Topic: SociologyIdentity

Last updated: February 3, 2019

Colonialism has been around since the beginning of humanity in which people would take over vast lands occupied by others for resources and power. In 605 BC, Israel was conquered by Babylonians who used the Israelites as slaves and took away their freedom such as practicing religion. However, conquering Israel came with negative consequences and Israelites fought back and killed Babylonians to regain what they had lost. Similarly, in The Tempest by William Shakespeare and “the maid” by Nayyirah Waheed, negative effects can be observed as consequences of colonialism; objectification of the colonized, revenge, and the difference in power between the colonizers and the colonized can be seen.

Firstly, objectification of people can be seen in both pieces of writing. In “the maid”, the maid is simply seen as a tool “for the speaker’s children, … kitchen, … clothes, … and house”. Furthermore, the maid becomes dehumanized as the speaker shortens her name to rid the identity that the maid might have and mistreats her by not even “asking the maid her children’s names”. Also, the bare minimum for one’s survival is given to the maid as she gets “an unmade twin bed” suggesting that the speaker does not care about the maid’s wellbeing.

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Similarly, in The Tempest, Caliban is treated as an object by Trinculo, who ponders if Caliban is “a man or a fish”. (2.2.24) Trinculo reminisces a time when he travelled to England and witnessed freakshows there and thinks that Caliban would net him a lot of money in England. In both pieces of writing, the colonizers view the colonized as just simple objects and as a tool for their own use. Difference in power between the colonizers and the colonized can be seen as a direct consequence of colonialism in both pieces of writing. In The Tempest, Prospero views Caliban as a lesser being and confines him to a rock. Moreover, Prospero orders Caliban to “fetch in fuel” (1.

2.368) and threatens Caliban to “rack thee with old cramps, and fill all thy bones with ache” if Caliban does not obey his commands. Throughout the play, Prospero instills and constantly reminds Caliban of his dominance above him. Likewise, the speaker in “the maid” exercises control over the maid by “setting the maid’s hours past her own children’s bed time” and “shortening her name” to give the maid a sense of awareness the class difference that exists between them. (Finish the paragraph with a concluding sentence) The last consequence by colonialism is the hatred towards the colonizers which is further fueled by the objectification and difference in power between the colonizer and the colonized. In “the maid”, the maid’s hatred towards the speaker is shown as she is forced to undergo heavy labor and all the while being mistreated and dehumanized. Caliban also shows signs of hatred towards Prospero multiple times in the play; for instance, asking Stephano to “knock a nail into Prospero’s head”.


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