Gloria Anzaldua’s treatment

Gloria Anzaldua’s treatment of The Tempest would be different than the one portrayed by Shakespeare because of the obvious difference in their perspectives. Gloria Anzaldua would probably focus on two main themes; feminism and colonization. From reading her work How to Tame a Wild Tongue we learn of the various adaptations Mexican Americans have been forced to make to their language in order to be assimilated in the mainstream American life. “Ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity- I am my language. Until I can take pride in my language; I cannot take pride in myself. ”(Anzaldua 2951).

This would perhaps, be the dominant theme of Anzaldua’s treatment of The Tempest. Caliban and Ariel epitomize the colonized, marginalized, subaltern people of the imperial era. Prospero had enslaved Caliban using his magic and relegated him to the position of a vile monster and slave. Prospero’s ostensible reason for doing so was because he had tried to molest Miranda. But the fact is that Prospero treated Caliban with contempt and disdain and tortured him with ordeals and laborious activities all the time. He did not treat him with respect and made Caliban feel inhuman and depraved.

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Prospero compelled Caliban to learn his language and his faith as a way of recompense for being taught life skills. The other area that would probably be focused on would be Shakespeare’s treatment of the character of Miranda. In the play Miranda is completely under the control of her father, Prospero, and does not seem to have any say in choosing her own husband. She is naive and has very limited exposure to the real world. She is emotionally and mentally dependant on her father. The treatment of Miranda’s character in The Tempest is that of a naive girl of fifteen who has lived in exile in a deserted island with her father for twelve years.

Despite the fact that Miranda has twice been almost molested by Caliban and Alonso, the King of Naples, Miranda still believes that all men are basically good and noble. This unrealistic view of life is due to the influence of Prospero, whose patriarchal principles may be interpreted in modern days as being chauvinistic and repressive. The political backdrop of the play was the time of prosperity and stability for England under the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. “As far as the social structures are concerned, the class barriers did exist, but this was a feature that was generally accepted, and not resented by anyone.

“(Ray 7) Another important social association was the beginning of colonization under King James I, when the English made peace with their Spanish rivals and hordes of people crossed the seas to colonize New England. One such expedition met with an accident at sea and the ship was wrecked, accounts of which were supplied by the survivors and was the source for the play written by Shakespeare. (Ray 8) The point of interest for Anzaldua would be the expeditions made by the Hispanic people to these foreign lands and how they brought their culture and language to North America.

The major change in the political scenario would be the shift in the attitudes of people in the post colonial era. People living in countries that had been colonized are no longer indifferent and/or accepting of class barriers or willing to overlook their cultural roots in trying to establish their identities in this world where cultural and linguistic diversity is disappearing in a globalized economy. In Anzaldua’s adaptation she would look at the play from the perspective of Caliban and a more emancipated Miranda from the theme’s standpoint.

In her adaptation the treatment of language would also be very different, in as much as she would probably adapt the dialogues using more of the variants of Chicano Spanish, Tex-Mex and Pachuco. (Anzaldua 2949) Anzaldua’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest might incorporate the following aspects: • The role of Miranda would be to comply with not only her father’s wishes but also be representative of the Mexican woman’s urge to be vocal in a repressive society. • Caliban’s story would be explored in greater depth and he would be given a voice that would represent the collective say of the colonized and marginalized people of the world.

In the screen adaptation she would stick to the basics of the story line, plot and characters, which will include: Miranda: Daughter to Prospero; a 15 year old Mexican-American, Chicano speaking girl, schooled by her father in the contemporary Mestizo society. Action for the scene introducing Miranda to Ferdinand: Ferdinand carrying heavy logs while Miranda tries to alleviate his burdened spirits by singing to him. The song is in Chicano that is native to Miranda but alien and incomprehensible to Ferdinand.

The song, despite its linguistic difficulty, proves to be the first bond between the two. A rough translation of Shakespeare’s lines for Miranda in Act III Scene I of the play “Juro por mi modestia que yo nunca querria cualquier companero en el mundo, pero que” or something along similar lines would probably be what Miranda confesses to Ferdinand through her song. Scene: Exterior; this is a metaphorical use of setting as it symbolizes her moving out of her cloistered existence and gaining more exposure to the external world. Location: by the sea; this is to harmonize the play with the original.

Time of day: afternoon; to show the exhaustion of Ferdinand and a somnolent environment which aids in fostering tender feelings in Miranda. Synopsis: Miranda has been raised by her father and a male-dominant society, schooled by him in arts and sciences, but never had the opportunity of meeting other people from different cultures. This adaptation would open the world for Miranda where she would be exposed to more influences and be ready to make her own decisions based on her views and personality. She will remain the innocent, sweet girl that she is in the original play but her choices will be hers and not imposed on her by circumstances.

Since Anzaldua will be able to relate more to the situation that Ariel or Caliban had to face in The Tempest because of experiencing the angst of existing in a land under foreign rule, being forced to speak a foreign tongue, she would include as part of the adaptation a way to redeem their self esteem and pride in their language and culture. Works Cited Anzaldua, Gloria. “How to Tame a Wild Tongue. ” Borderland/La Frontera, The New Mestiza. WolfWeb. Web. 26 May 2010. Ray, Ratri. William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers Pvt. Ltd, 2007. Print.


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