Home vs. The Exotic in Shakespeare’s The Tempest Essays

Home vs. The Exotic in Shakespeare’s The TempestHome. Just the word conjures up feelings of familiarity and comfort, a place that is welcoming and memorable. Does home necessarily have to represent a place? Rather, can it encompass a multitude of feelings and objects that represent comfort and ease? The post-colonial novel often strives to strike a balance, whether it be uneven, between what is considered foreign and exotic and that which is homely and familiar. Post-colonial literature frequently is representative of the interplay between characters’ experiences in an exotic environment versus those at home. With this interplay between home and the exotic comes a dynamic complexity that explores themes such as fears and desires, freedom, gender roles, and sexuality. With an overarching comparison between home and a foreign environment, the many layers of the meaning of post-coloniality can be filtered out and explored in depth.

Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest, serves as an excellent example of the interaction between the ideas of home and the exotic. These ideas are not only displayed in setting, but also represented by many of the main characters in the play. The study of this play can be considered a re-interpretation of a canonical text in light of post-colonial themes. The story is one of intrigue that explores the personalities of individual characters and their role in relation to what they consider as home and foreign. The characters that are most important in explaining these ends include Prospero, his daughter Miranda and Prospero’s two servants, Ariel and Caliban. Each one has a set of separate experiences on the island that shape their ability to determine what they find comforting and homely and what is exoti…

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…sa. This somewhat simple observation has resounding qualities in this post-colonial text as it blurs the defining line between home and the exotic. It can be concluded from these observations that the ideas of homeliness and exoticness are not necessarily balanced in the post-colonial text, but rather blurred so the definitions are defined with each other instead of against each other.

Apparent from this play, the post-colonial text ties in the features of home and the exotic while incorporating various post-colonial themes. The Tempest, being considered a canonical text, has undergone re-interpretations in a post-colonial light to display varied themes central to texts written and referring to time periods during and after colonization. Through the character’s experiences, the ideas of home and the exotic are exposed, revealing post-colonial meanings and ideas.


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