Slavery and Freedom in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest Essay
1978 Words8 Pages
Slavery and Freedom in William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”
The subtly comedic interactions and juxtapositions between masters and slaves in William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” generate a question which has been the source of much controversy throughout history: are the hierarchical classifications “slave” and “free” reflections of a person’s fundamental nature, or are they social constructions based on bias and self-interest which have nothing to do with absolute truth? This question is crucial because the way that we answer it has the potential to either justify or condemn the widespread practice of enslaving certain individuals. A close look at Shakespeare’s portrayal of masters and slaves in this play suggests that although those…show more content…
In the course of their scheming, Caliban advises Stephano and Trinculo to “Remember/ First to possess his books; for without them/ He’s but a sot, as I am; nor Hath one spirit to command: They all do hate him/ As rootedly as I” (3.2: 95-99). Caliban is claiming that Prospero’s power over him is not due to fundamentally superior intellectual capacity, but rather to privileged circumstances which have allowed him to acquire his books on sorcery. The fact that Caliban is under Prospero’s powers would logically give him first-hand information regarding these powers, and because honesty about this information could potentially further his goal of overthrowing Prospero while dishonesty could undermine it, he has no motivation to lie in this instance. For these reasons it seems logical to trust Caliban’s evaluation of Prospero here. This evaluation supports the argument that “slave” and “free” are separate social classifications rather than separate natures, since one’s circumstances are a product of chance and the framework of the social system one was born into rather than fundamental nature.
Earlier in this scene we see that Prospero and Caliban also share very similar motivations. Caliban’s motivations are exposed when he is imploring Stephano to join him in his plot against Prospero: “I say by sorcery he got this isle; / From me he got it. If thy greatness will/
The Relationship Between Slavery and Freedom Essay
852 Words4 Pages
The Relationship Between Slavery and Freedom
For Edmund S. Morgan American slavery and American freedom go together hand in hand. Morgan argues that many historians seem to ignore writing about the early development of American freedom simply because it was shaped by the rise of slavery. It seems ironic that while one group of people is trying to break the mold and become liberated, that same group is making others confined and shattering their respectability. The aspects of liberty, race, and slavery are closely intertwined in the essay, 'Slavery and Freedom: The American Paradox.'
The contradictions between slavery and freedom are very apparent throughout history. America started out with the intentions of becoming separate…show more content…
It is a great debate as to why they treated that small group so poorly.
Jefferson felt very strongly about the freedom of an individual. His idea of freedom was that the individual was independent, and not under the control of a government for example. There were two main things that Jefferson was concerned with, debt and distrust of men who were landless workers (124). With the first he felt that while under debt a man had very limited freedom of action. The landless workers he felt were very dependent. They had to work because there was no land for backup. In these times owning property was an important part of being a free man. Perhaps this led to slavery for those who did not own land. Many think slavery was always race based, but Jefferson?s position shows a different view.
The problem with the landless workers escalated to its height in 1676 when about one fourth of freemen in Virginia did not own any land of their own (132). Many of these men wandered about, living dangerous and non goal oriented lives. These people were causing big problems among the Virginia population. While they needed the immigrants to work, when they were turned free they went out of control. Eventually this led to Bacon?s Rebellion. The problem was similar to that in England so they treated it the same way, with many tough restrictions of liberty (134). In efforts to control everything the government ended up