The Tempest In Defense Of The Indians

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The Tempest, In Defense Of The Indians, And Montaigne?S Essays Essay, Research Paper I Know I Am But What Are You? Cultural Differences in The Tempest, Montaigne?s Essays, and In Defense of the Indians The Tempest, In Defense of the Indians, and Montaigne?s essays each illustrate what happens when two very different worlds collide. As Europe begins to saturate New World soil, the three authors offer their accounts of the dynamic between the European invader and native other. Though each work is unique in its details, they all share a common bond: Shakespeare, de Las Casas, and Montaigne show the reader how European colonialists use differences in appearance and language to justify theft and slavery. The Tempest?s Caliban serves as an instrument to highlight the colonialist

notion of the other. Caliban is the original inhabitant of the island; it is his native land. But Caliban is ugly. Prospero claims that he is “not honored with human shape” (p. 17), and so the new European inhabitants never think of him as a potential equal- they see him as their inferior. This initial incongruity between characters supports further dehumanization of the native for the remainder of the play. Caliban?s appearance does not only contribute to the Europeans? poor estimation of him, but it also serves as the justification of his slavery. When Trinculo says, “Wilt thou tell a monstrous lie, being but half a fish and half a monster” (p. 55), he communicates two important concepts. First, Trinculo reinforces the idea that Caliban is more animal than man. Next, he

assumes that Caliban?s exterior mirrors Caliban?s interior. Caliban?s physical deformities, according to Trinculo, also indicate deformity of character. Together, these faults aid Prospero?s justification of forcing Caliban to “serve in offices that profit us” (p. 18). A second factor of Caliban?s oppression is language. The ability to communicate that ends man?s isolation from others and leads to civilization. When Prospero discovers Caliban, the native has no knowledge of Europe, much less its tongue. Miranda and Prospero take it upon themselves to educate Caliban in “civilized” language. Miranda says: “I pitied thee, took pains to make thee speak, taught thee each hour one thing or other, When thou didst not, savage, know thine own meaning, but wouldst gabble, like a

thing most brutish, I endowed thy purposes with words that made them known.” (p. 20) Miranda believes that communication indicates that one is civilized. She does not for a moment consider that Caliban?s “gabble” was most likely his own language, the language he used to with Sycorax. Miranda believes that true communication (and true civilization) comes only in the words of her own language. Prospero agrees with this notion. He believes that Caliban?s deformity and inability to communicate with foreigners make the native his subordinate. Caliban is only “?a lying slave, whom stripes may move, not kindness” (p. 54). Prospero refuses to hear Caliban?s exclamation that he was “first?mine own king” (p. 54). Once Caliban controlled his own life. With the arrival of

Prospero, who sees no redeeming qualities but brute strength in Caliban, the native becomes a slave. Prospero believes that Caliban is not human and sees no reason to treat him as one. Montaigne and de Las Casas also explore the humanity of natives. Though their portrayals of the Indians are very different, their aim is the same: to promote the humane treatment of the Indians. Both works oppose the colonialist mentality that appears in The Tempest. Montaigne and de Las Casas argue that differences in culture are not tantamount to inferiority. De Las Casas? account of the Indians describes a race of people who are “completely innocent, meek, harmless, and temperate” (p.26). Like Caliban, de Las Casas? natives are very simple, even childlike. However, de Las Casas believes his