Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Hunt Hawkins, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sara Deats, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Shirley Toland-Dix, Ph.D.


shakespeare, coetzee, bankimchandra, postcolonial, resistance


The thesis looks at William Shakespeare's The Tempest in conjunction with J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace and BankimChandra Chattopadhyay's Kapalkundala. In their own distinctive ways, each of these texts appropriate Shakespeare's play and are, in turn, appropriated by it while exploring the patterns of dominance and resistance inherent to the colonial/postcolonial context. The Tempest, as a play, is central to this argument owing to its experiments with power structures and their subsequent subversion. Shakespeare's text also provides an interesting point of departure because of the numerous postcolonial re-readings that it continues to provoke, creating theoretical room for discussing the status of these later works as rewritten "versions" of the colonially sanctioned master narrative of imperial control.

Coetzee's novel reworks the master-slave dialectic, although any easy parallelism with the characters of Prospero and Caliban is problematized with the introduction of Miranda-like figures. Chatterjee writes from within colonial Bengal while situating his reading of the play in a pre-colonial era-the temporal displacement providing the ideological distance needed to both critique and reaffirm the presence of an alien system of governance.

I would like to divide the scope of the thesis under five chapter headings to consider the nature of each individual text, as well as their interconnectedness. While the introduction seeks to present some of the underlying theoretical and historical frameworks, the following three chapters analyze the way in which Chatterjee and Coetzee adopt the play to represent their peculiar socio-cultural situations. The significance of language in any text that "writes back" from the margins to a work that is firmly placed in the political centre warrants a separate treatment, with regard to both the rewritten texts as well as those that specifically consider the linguistic reshaping of history. In the concluding chapter, I hope to bring together the threads that these separate discussions create in an attempt to understand why a play like The Tempest continues to provoke multiple postcolonial versions, and whether or not one is justified in approaching the newer works as mere "versions" of the colonially sanctioned text.