Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department


Committee Chair/Advisor

Rivlin, Elizabeth

Committee Member

Bennett , Alma

Committee Member

Paul , Catherine


Critical scholarship of William Shakespeare's The Tempest and AimŽ CŽsaire's adaptation Une Tempte frequently neglects to examine Ariel's place within colonialist discourse. Ariel's ambiguity in both texts undoubtedly contributes to this unjust marginalization. An understanding of the function of Ariel within the texts is critical in understanding the placement of both plays in colonialist discourse. This thesis proposes a reading of the Ariels that reestablishes their place within the dialogue.
Shakespeare's Ariel problematizes views of the colonized as content to live under the domination of the colonizer. Using subversive tactics--principally his invisibility--Ariel disguises himself as unimportant and attains his freedom. Caliban, on the other hand, spends much of the text resisting Prospero's authority, but ultimately convinces himself of the wisdom of his own servitude.
In moving from Shakespeare to CŽsaire, it is necessary to examine the place of other discourses in the creation of CŽsaire's adaptation. Just as his mulatto Ariel represents the physical interconnectedness of races, CŽsaire's negritude represents the intermingling of black liberation discourses. CŽsaire's Ariel complicates the idea of an embracement of negritude as the best method by which to gain freedom. Although CŽsaire's portrayal of Caliban illustrates his dissatisfaction with Shakespeare's portrayal of the colonized, CŽsaire's portrayal of Ariel highlights the implications inherent in the original text. My reading of Ariel ultimately suggests that he, by virtue of his ambiguity, is similar to The Tempest--open to any number of readings.



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