Aime Cesaire inspiration to write ‘A Tempest” was Shakespeare’s play called ‘The Tempsest”. Aime is well known from his reputable post-colonial poetry as well as essay and play writing. A Tempest is a new rendition of Shakespeare’s The Tempest with a similar cast of characters and flow of the plot.
However, Aime Cesaire slightly transformed the characters into depicting Ariel and Caliban as oppressed natives and Prospero as the manipulative European power. The two slaves use different approaches on their master all with the hope of being free. Ariel comes in a friendly manner to negotiate for independence whereas Caliban is bitter and rude towards Prospero.
From the play, the audience gets to see the author’s anti-colonist ideas, from the colonized perspective by exploring the relationship between colonial subjects and the colonizer. The setting of the play is on some island in the Caribbean where Prospero lives. Caliban is designed as a black slave whereas Ariel is a mulatto slave and was treated better. Caliban is depicted as an oppressed native that is rebellious against colonization. His ultimate goal was to be liberated from the chains of his master; therefore, he was willing to do all that was within his power to attain this.
Ariel is obedient and loyal to Prospero as he ‘respects his word” and obeys all the orders given to him without hesitation. He truly believes that someday he will be granted his freedom. The reason for his belief is perhaps the better treatment he receives. Ariel seems to be more outspoken of his feelings to his master. For instance, at one point Prospero asks him whether he is upset and Ariel pleads him to relieve him off too much labor. Prospero busted Listen, and listen well! I’ve got a job to do, and I don’t care how it gets done! (Ce??saire and Miller???15) And although he (Ariel) is shouted at, he still keeps reminding the colonizer of the promise to let him free. The author tries to portray Ariel is a character that clings to things told in the past even though they seem like lies. As the audience sees, there was no possible way that Prospero was going to emancipate any of his slaves without having their replacements. Ariel is optimistic that the excellent service he offers and submissiveness will make the master honor his promise.
Meanwhile, Caliban slights Prospero every opportunity he gets. As the play starts the greeting that Caliban uses with his master is a Swahili which also means ‘freedom”. Prospero had forbidden the use of vernacular in his compound, and this leads him to complain. As we can see from this Caliban is daring and likes provoking the colonizer. When asked not to use his native language, Caliban attempts claiming birthrights to the island, which angers Prospero to the extent of wanting to whip him. Here it is notable that this slave does not care much about the kind of relationship he has with the colonizer. He openly shows that he does not like the living conditions of being someone’s property. During their argument, Caliban asks Prospero to be addressing him as X, a man without a name or better yet a man whose name has been stolen.
Caliban is more talkative, less submissive and resistant. He tries to authorizing his freedom by speaking it. Throughout the play, the conversation between Caliban and Prospero is more compared to Ariel. It was through these conversations that Caliban realized that being freed from the master was not something that would happen peacefully. The work done by the salves was quite a lot, and Prospero could not manage to do it by himself. Moreover, this colonialist was authoritative and loved power as depicted by the author of the play. With this knowledge, Caliban began thinking of ways to eliminate the master to be free.
Caliban boldly takes a stand-in opposing Prospero’s orders. And despite Ariel trying to persuade him otherwise he still holds on wanting freedom immediately. The black slave explains to his co-worker that their master had become more demanding and intolerable. From the interaction between the two, it seems as though Ariel is genuinely a humble individual, who cannot do any harm which is contrary to Caliban. Another difference between the slaves is how Caliban strives to preserve his identity whereas Ariel does not care at all. Ariel reminds Caliban of the power their master had and Caliban replies, Better death than injustice and humiliation. (Ce??saire and Miller???24) This statement shows how determined Caliban is towards safeguarding his identity. He wants to remain primitive and ignorant.
Ariel used to coat his speech when addressing the master, contrary to Caliban who showed his apparent hatred in his talks by using curses. According to Prospero, his servants owe him a debt of gratitude for introducing them to modernity. Maybe this was the reason as to why Ariel was patient and believed the master would at some point grant him freedom. He was content to serve the master until this debt is paid off. But when it comes to Caliban, he did not feel as though he owed Prospero anything. Therefore it is right to say that Ariel had something that kept him motivated to be submissive whereas Caliban did not.
More insight is added to Caliban’s attitude and character after his encounter with Trinculo and Stephano. The black slave willingly subjugates himself to them and begs them to be his master. No one would have expected this, which shows Caliban to be incapable of autonomy. Under his new master (Stephano) Caliban condition worsens as he stopped being rebellious. Here he no longer sent curse as he used to when under Prospero and being more submissive seems to be making him more pathetic. Caliban thought maybe going to another master would be some freedom, but that was not the case. In the end, he resigned himself back to Prospero and promised to be more submissive than before. As for Ariel, he did find his freedom eventually, and his state ends up being better than it was as the scene began.
With the different approaches used by the slaves, it appeared like Caliban was the one to earn his freedom first. Ariel was always down to earth and careful with the choice of words he used. Caliban even went as far as plotting to kill his master which he did not succeed and instead when released to Stephano he yearned to return to Prospero. Ariel negotiations and commitment convinced the master to fulfill his promise of granting him true liberty. The two slaves were different even on the tone they used while talking to Prospero and this too did matter in determining their fate.