Monday, August 27, 2007

The "Tempest" in the Wilderness

It the article The “Tempest” in the Wilderness Ronald Takaki shows how Shakespeare’s play titled The Tempest served as a “masquerade for the creation of a new society in America.” Through Shakespeare’s play he presents circumstances that the English were going through with their new inhabitants and also circumstances that they will find occurring in the future. The story was about how Prospero and how he took possession of an island that was previously inhabited by Caliban. Throughout this play and the article Takaki and Shakespeare are presenting ways that the English and Prospero tried to rationalize the Indians’ and Caliban’s savagery.
To begin, the English encountered the Irish who, like the Caliban, were viewed at savages and the English believed that they were very uncivilized because they did not have manners or the knowledge of God. To the Englishmen these concepts were very important to them so when they encountered the Irish, they believed that they were living like beasts and were thought to be barbarous. So because the English viewed the Irish as savages, they made laws stating that no Englishman is allowed to marry someone who is Irish. The colonist also were very violent towards they Irish and did things such as burn their crops and slaughtered people and kept their heads trophies. However, this was their way of rationalizing the fact that the Irish were salvages and barbarous so there was no need to treat them like humans.
When the English came across the Indians they found that the Indians reminded them a lot of the Irish in the fact that they too were savages. To the English, the Indians seemed to lack everything that they deemed important. Such qualities like Christianity, cities, letters, and swords, that were a very big part of the English life, were completely missing from the Indians’. The native people were viewed as the “other” as was Caliban in The Tempest. The English took away the Indians land for a long time, even when Jefferson was president and he told the Indians that their land was their own and the colonist would not try and take their land from them, but then Jefferson went behind the Indians’ backs and tried to create conditions that would make the Indians willing to sell their land. The English turned what was once ‘the wilderness’ into a market area and took over the Indians land too hunt and grow crops, which caused the Indians population to decrease. However, the English still saw nothing wrong with treating the Indians this way because they were ignorant heathens.
In the end, it is truly okay to treat humans with little respect just because they do not have the same beliefs, priorities, or values as one does? If we were to treat people today, the way the colonist treated the Indians then, the United States would not be the melting pot that we have become. Everyone would have to share the same beliefs such as religion, family values, work values, and life goals. This is truly unrealistic and in no way would it ever happen. Also, it’s not only that it’s unrealistic that we would all have the same beliefs, but it’s truly wrong to kill such a large population of people just because you find them below you. However, this is an example of how we have learned from our past and have become better because of it. We know now that what happened between the Indians and the English was wrong and we would not allowed that to happen again.
I think that this article was very long and drawn out. I felt like it was doing a lot of repeating throughout the article and did not present much new information, only went on about similar things. I thought that it was interesting however, that they mentioned the incident with Christopher Columbus as well.

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