Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Naomi C. Liebler

Committee Member

Adam Rzepka

Committee Member

Jonathan Greenberg


This thesis engages with Shakespeare’s The Tempest, analyzing the character Caliban as a critique of British colonialism. I argue that Caliban is not intended simply as a begrudged antagonist, but as a figure intended to represent New World natives. Shakespeare’s “savage” also acts as an on-stage embodiment of Africans and other victims of British imperial exploits that suffered subjugation and hegemony. With this character, Shakespeare provides a demonstration of the relationship between Europeans and the colonized, while challenging the very institution of colonialism. Such a work provides valuable post-Shakespearean insights as well. Caliban contributes directly to the dialogue surrounding the experience of the indigenous, the costly cultivation of English identity, and the European condemnation of New World cultural practices. Considering Caliban’s nature, story and experiences is pivotal when navigating diasporic literature, as these elements have direct implications for later writers who subsequently attempt to navigate such nuanced experiences.

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