Deconstructing the Archetypal Self-Other Dichotomy in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest

  •  Marwan Harb Alqaryouti    
  •  Hanita Hanim Ismail    


Shakespeare’s The Tempest (1610-1611) is one of the controversial plays regarding whether to be placed in the purview of colonialism or anti-colonialism. The bard sketches two antithetical characters in the course of the play, Prospero and Caliban, who form the two extremes of the self against the other dichotomy. This study aims at proving Shakespeare’s proclaimed presuppositions at the realm of colonialism through his attempt to deconstruct the dichotomic discourse of colonialism via these two characters. The study also explains how the play starts with structuring two binary-oppositional spheres to lead readers eventually to question the very purpose of colonialism, which dehumanizes the colonized people. The data used in this study are generated through both primary and secondary sources of data collection, (i.e. the paly and other studies that give input to the discourse of the study). The paper moreover, focuses on Abdul R. JanMohamad’s concept of Manicheanism allegory to examine the backdrop of postcolonial view of self/other dichotomy. A critical discourse narrative technique is employed in the discussion section of the study based on the deconstruction apparatus, such as binary opposition, Manicheanism allegory and symbolism. The study also refers to Shakespeare’s symbolism of Prospero as a character who can be perceived as Columbus himself, and consequently as the representative of the colonial enterprise. At the end of the play, therefore, the language of Prospero becomes noticeably less hegemonic, as he realizes that the individuals on the island should be emancipated from his dominance. In this way, Prospero becomes the mouthpiece of Shakespeare himself, who conveys counter-colonial beliefs, such as the confusion of the biological and the cultural, and the colonizers’ claim of their superiority, over the colonized; and thus, their right to dominate.

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