Master of Arts (MA)


Comparative Literature (Interdepartmental Program)

Document Type



The surrogation of Caliban from Shakespeare’s The Tempest to Césaire’s A Tempest has always been related to colonialism. In Shakespeare’s time, Caliban, depicted as half animal, served to represent the Other in an emerging colonial discourse. As opposed to Shakespeare’s character, Césaire’s Caliban is blatantly black and racially oppressed. Césaire indicates that A Tempest is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest for black theater. As an adaptation, the play reinterprets the figure of Caliban to express postcolonial attitudes of the time. This thesis addresses the questions of how the figure of Caliban in Shakespeare’s play fits into the discourse of colonialism and how the figure of the black Caliban in Césaire’s play reinterprets Caliban in a postcolonial context. To answer the questions, this thesis employs postcolonial theory as advanced by, among others, Aimé Césaire, Leopold Senghor, Frantz Fanon and Homi Bhabha. The discussion indicates that each figuration of Caliban, both on stage and in critical theory, always functions as a surrogate for another reinterpretation of the figure within a given political context. Césaire’s Caliban, as a refiguring of Shakespeare’s Caliban, however, also invites another surrogation, one that relates to the later wave of postcolonial theory emphasizing hybridity, which views Caliban as one who blends borders and identities in a hybrid formation.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Leslie A. Wade