much of Shakespeare’s work. Any similarities to a colonialist narrative merely stem from this
commentary on how people treat those they think are inferior to them. Because the play was
precolonial, it could not make a sincere account of colonialism.
Reading the play The Tempest within the context of colonial discourse has its merits
but is ultimately misleading, because it deviates from the intended artistry. Colonial
interpretations reach beyond the scope of the real accounts of colonization of at the time. This
treatment is either based on falsehood, imagination, or, in the most generous view, a
forecasted description of the future. The treatment becomes even more careless for the book
when it is entirely based on imagination. As people’s imaginations vary widely, they might
feel a certain entitlement to make interpretations that fit their interests. At the time, New
World civilization was still a new concept just gaining momentum. Because of this, The
Tempest is better read as a psychological journey into the human mind.
Limiting The Tempest comes at the detriment of fuller interpretations. As Skura points
out, “Though the term ‘colonialism’ may allude to the entire spectrum of New World activity,
in these articles it most often refers specifically to the use of power, to the Europeans’
exploitative and self-justifying treatment of the New World and its inhabitants” (44). While
power dynamics and exploitation are certainly themes in The Tempest, the exploration of the
tensions between loyalty and betrayal, and justice and revenge are the most dazzling artistry
in the play. There is the embarrassment and shame when Prospero is banished from Milan.
Yet he convinces himself that he is the superior person on the island and demands the loyalty
of Caliban and Ariel. This commentary about social hierarchy and perceived superiority is
not specific to New World events but is an almost universal part of human nature.
The dynamic between justice and revenge is another clear point of the play that could
get missed if reducing the view of The Tempest to a colonial narrative. It is a major part of the
play that readers are urged to confront and analyse. Prospero seeks justice on Antonio in the