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( Re)appropriation


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( Re)appropriation a reading of The tempest, Kapalkundala and disgrace
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Bhattacharya, Sunayani
University of South Florida
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Dissertations, Academic -- English -- Masters -- USF   ( lcsh )
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ABSTRACT: 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.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2009.
Includes bibliographical references.
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by Sunayani Bhattacharya.

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(Re)appropriation :
b a reading of The tempest, Kapalkundala and disgrace
h [electronic resource] /
by Sunayani Bhattacharya.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 85 pages.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2009.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
ABSTRACT: 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.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Advisor: Hunt Hawkins, Ph.D.
Dissertations, Academic
x English
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
4 856


(Re)Appropriation: A Reading of The Tempest Kapalkundala and Disgrace by Sunayani Bhattacharya A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of English College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Hunt Hawkins, Ph.D. Sara Deats, Ph.D. Shirley Toland-Dix, Ph.D. Date of Approval: April 7, 2009 Keywords: shakespeare, coetzee, bank imchandra, postcolonial, resistance Copyright 2009, Sunayani Bhattacharya


Acknowledgements Firstly, I would like to thank my advisor Dr. Hunt Hawkins, for painstakingly reading and re-reading the various drafts, a nd for providing invaluable guidance during a process that often seemed challenging, to say the least. I also wish to thank Dr. Sara Deats and Dr. Shirley Toland-Dix for being such wonderful committee members and for all their help in stru cturing this thesis. Thank you for taking the time to work with me in this endeavor and for never accepting a nything less than my best efforts. This work would not have been possible without the help of the Department of English, and the USF library collectionsa bi g thank you to both. I would also like to thank all my friends for helping me th rough the thesisyou have been incredible. Finally, I would like to thank my parent s and my brother for always being there and for having such faith in me. None of this could have happened without you.


i Table of Contents Abstract ii Introduction 1 Chapter One: The Tempest and Its Aftermath 12 Chapter Two: Refashioning Gender: Kapalkundala and The Tempest 36 Chapter Three: Positions of Power: Reading Disgrace and The Tempest 55 Conclusion 73 References 76 Bibliography 79


ii (Re)Appropriations : A Re-reading of The Tempest Kapalkundala and Disgrace Sunayani Bhattacharya ABSTRACT The thesis looks at William Shakespeares The Tempest in conjunction with J.M. Coetzees Disgrace and BankimChandra Chattopadhyays Kapalkundala In their own distinctive ways, each of these texts appropria te Shakespeares play and are, in turn, appropriated by it while exploring the patterns of dominance and resi stance inherent to the colonial/postcolonial context. The Tempest as a play, is central to this argument owing to its experiments with power stru ctures and their subsequent subversion. Shakespeares text also provides an intere sting point of departure because of the numerous postcolonial re-readings that it continues to provo ke, creating theoretical room for discussing the status of these later works as rewritten versions of the colonially sanctioned master narrative of imperial control. Coetzees novel reworks the master-slave dialectic, although any easy parallelism with the characters of Prospe ro and Caliban is problemati zed with the introduction of Miranda-like figures. Chatterjee writes from within colonial Bengal while situating his reading of the play in a pre-colonial erathe temporal displacement providing the ideological distance needed to both critique and reaffirm the presence of an alien system


iii 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 te xt 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 t hose that specifically consider the linguistic reshaping of history. In the concluding chapter, I hope to br ing together the thread s that these separate discussions create in an attemp t 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.


1 Introduction: The Logic of Re-inscription The empire writing back has consisten tly attracted the attention of selfconsciously postcolonial author s and scholars, generating a sp ecialized field within the broader examination of colonial structures of power. Writing back allows the postcolonial author to not merely re-narrativize the origi nal work, but to incorporate in the newer text those concerns and themes that frame th e modern writer and hi s/her subjects. While it would be simplistic to reduce the complexities of the coloni al situation to the struggle between the ruler and the ruled, an investiga tion of the relationshi p shared by these two groupsthe colonizer and the colonizedprovides a clue to understanding the structures of power underlying the imperialist project. The act of re-visioning a western text from the perspective of the (ex) colonized calls into question the colonizers patter ns of dominance, reve aling the points of subversion and of resistance to that sy stem. The intricate and interdependent relationship between resistan ce and subjugation illuminates the complexities of the colonial situation, and effectively negates a ny attempts at simplistic polarization. While the centrality of the western te xt is undermined by the approp riation of authorial voice on the part of the colonized, the erstwhile n ative, too, must nece ssarily contend with his/her dependence on the ideological constructs inherited from the former masters. Thus,


2 neither the canonical text nor its re-visi oning is left unmolest ed as both enter a gladiatorial contest interrogating their mean ing. This agonistic re lationship provides an additional stratum to the idea of writing b ackthe original a nd the reworked texts themselves must engage in establishing ethical/ intellectual superiority as they critique or affirm the colonizing mission. Given the ideological force of lite rature, not surprising ly the process of colonization 1 chose the written text as the ideal mode of cultural and intellectual domination. A case in point was the establishment of English studies in India even before it became a self-legitimizing institution in England, leading to an unprecedented growth in the consumption of English literature in the colonies. 2 A similar, though later, civilizing spurt occurred in Africa as well with English studies forming the core of school and college level curriculum. What be gan as a move to educate the culturally deficient native was initially embraced by the subjugated as a means to gain access to the private world of the whites. English literature in general and Shakespeare in particular, became the yardstick by which the oppressed race began to measure its intellectual capabilities, often denigrating indigenous literary traditions in order to better acquire the elements of the superior culture. Thus during the process of decolonizationa 1 For the purposes of the thesis, I refer specifically to the historical development of British colonialism (discussed later in the chapter). 2 English is introduced into the Indian curriculum following Thomas Babington Macaulays Minutes in 1835. In the next chapter I investigate the role English education plays in creating the reformed native with reference to the character of Ariel in Shakespeares The Tempest and the problems inherent in the ideological force of literature.


3 historical event covering the first half of the twentieth centurythe erstwhile native had to sort through the debris of a problema tic loyalty to the body of knowledge that had to be necessarily rejected or revolutionized in order to formulate a nationalist, anticolonial ideology. The incomplete separation of this sense of loyalty to the imposed intellectual tradition from the desire to reinstate the voice of the subjugated complicatesand to an extent latently underminespostcolonial critique of colonization. As Dipesh Chakrabarty argues in his Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference European liberal humanism, and the ensuing elaborations that so deeply inform the Western canonical text, forms the backdrop for much contemporary criticism, undergirding a feeling of dependence that postcolonial authors often struggle to negate. Self-conscious writing back to the western texta work that once served as a primary tool for the colonialist enterpri seprovides a mode of empowerment that reclaims the identity of a rational human be ing that had been denied the colonized. By thus appropriating the texts th at were the former symbols of oppression, the postcolonial author is then able to engage in a dialogue with the west on his or her own ideological terms. The text loses its mythic status as em bodying the civilized vi rtues, and is instead exposed as a negotiation of power struct ures propagating a rather one sidedand hypocriticaldefinition of the human. Thus Shakespeares playsonce a symbol of British colonial powertoo question the very sy stem of control that sought to position the plays as a part of the imperial enterp rise. The points of rupt ure that now become


4 visible allow access once again to the white ma ns world; only this time the method of entry is intentionally disrup tive, uncomfortably probing. With the emphasis shifting from imitation to authorial recreation, the colonize d can effectively impose his/her perspective on the west and its symbols, rendering ineff ectual any attempts at a monologic version of colonial narratives. Shakespeares The Tempest (1610-11) has been repeatedly read by authors in an attempt to uncover the deeply problematic j uxtaposition of domination and resistance. To understand the centrality of The Tempest in a postcolonial setting one needs initially to consider the construction of the characters of Caliban and Prospero, and the forces of attraction and repulsion that sh ape their interactio ns. The play revolves around Prospero, the former duke of Milan as he bides his time on an enchanted island with his daughter Miranda, his airy spirit Ariel, and Caliba n, the deformed native. At one level, Prosperos desire to bring hi s usurping brother, Antonio, to justice drives the plays plotMirandas marriage to Fe rdinand, the son of the King of Naples, forms a subplot and to achieve those ends Prospero magically creates a tempest that leaves Antonio, the King of Naples and his men stranded on the island. Prosperos in teraction with both Caliban and Ariel creates another interest ing subplot as it comments explicitly on the complex historical reality of colonization. Prospero, as the co lonizer, establishes his rule over the island and subjugates the previous i nhabitants, in this case Ariel and Caliban. Postcolonial authors and critics interested in the structures of power undergirding colonialism have exploited this angle of The Tempest and have adapted the play to suit


5 their particular socio-political realities. 3 It is important to place the master-slave relationshipthat emerges between Prospero (master) on the one hand, and Ariel and Caliban (slaves) on the otherwithin the socio-historical reality of the colonies to uncover the power struggles th at lie beneath an apparent ly polarized set of voices. The Tempest thus becomes symbolic of the logic of colonization and also of resistance to subjugation. The dual pressures operating within the play enhances the instability of the colonial situation, and makes it possible for authors to appropriate The Tempest to suit their particular ideological agendas. The pa tterns of subjugation and subversion that form much of the plays fabric are interrogated in later works, with a particular view to understanding the way in which these tw o seemingly disparate motifs are often negotiated within an undiffe rentiated space of contest. Two texts that highlight th e problematics of power in The Tempest are the Bengali author Bankimchandra Chatterjees Kapalkundala (1866) and the South African novelist J.M. Coetzees Disgrace (1999). In both of these works, the authors are engaged in challenging the established norms of social interaction as propagated by the colonial masters, while adopting very different approa ches and ideologies. Situated in radically different epochs of the colonial process, Bankim and Coetzee re-vision Shakespeares play as a reflection of their own literary and cultural spa ces. While Bankims work must indirectly negotiate the colonial master owing to his close prox imity to the institutions of 3 The next chapter presents some of the major appropriations of The Tempest and seeks to establish the plays investigation of patterns of subjugation and resistance.


6 controlhe lived and worked in nineteenth century Bengal during the British imperial heydayCoetzee has to incorporate his identity as a white man in post-apartheid South Africa into his text. However, their concern with expressions of pow er and its subversion justifies the juxtaposition of their works. The protagonists in both Bankims and Coetzees novels must situate themselves within their respective social norms in order to understand the constructedness of the structures that define them, and to fashion forms of resistance from within their socio-cultural milieu. At this juncture, it is important to ma ke certain distinctions in the seemingly homogeneous concept identified as colonial rule to understand the peculiarities of the examination of power structures in Kapalkundala and Disgrace. British imperialism like the other European colonial venturesman ifested very specific characteristics in the different colonized parts of the world. These traits were both a result and the basis for unique modes of colonizer-colonized interact ion; modes, however that shared the common cause of imposing an alien power structure over indigenous forms of sociocultural existence. The pattern of a settler colony 4 marked the relationship between the British and the indigenous African tribes in South Africa, while a more rigid insider/outsider binary characterized British rule in India. South Africa developed as an offshoot of the imperial trade route between Europe and Southeast Asia during the first half of the seventeenth century, serving as little more 4 A settler colony is defined as a colony inhabited by members of the erstwhile ruling class even after the period of decolonization. As a result, the distinction between indigenous people and alien rulers is blurred in the post colony.


7 than a base for ships to rendezvous. The Br itish continued to fo llow the Dutch policy when they captured the colony in 1795, and the scenario remained much the same until South Africas gold and diamond reserves were discovered in the late 1870s. The British government identified the Cape station and its surrounding area as a settler colony, particularly after it transported some five thousand odd men, women and children primarily from the lower middle classesand set them up as agricultural farmers. It should be noted, however, that the Afrikaners, descended from the orig inal Dutch settlers, maintained a skeptical distance from the Br itish and in some cases even established independent states within the colony. While the demographics of the Cape colony differed significantly from the other Britis h settler colonies in North America and Australiawhere colonial invasion had practically er adicated indigenous groups Britain still provided the colonists considerab le constitutional powers. A combination of administrative freedom and wealth consolidat ed the settlers hold over the land, and they effectively relegated the Africans to the role of manual laborers. The social hierarchy dividing the whites and the black s that had initially been th e product of racial prejudices and slavery, found support in th e colonys economic realitie s, and the abolitionist movement managed little other than effecting administrative policies that were color blind only in name. As Leonard Thompson notes in his A History of South Africa [w]herever Afrikaners had settled, they to lerated scarcely any social interaction with black people except as masters with servants. Indeed, they went a long way toward preserving the patriarchal relati onships that had originated in the


8 seventeenth century, minus the overt practi ce of slavery. The British settlers in the Cape Colony and Natal, and in the towns a nd villages in the republics, had rapidly complied with the established mores. (108) The creation of the modern postcolonial state of South Africa had to contend with these sharply marked racial divisions, as a sizeab le white population still remained in the republic. The colonial matrix in India assumed the form of a non-settler colony, as the majority of the British colonists left I ndia following the latter s independence in 1947. The Indians were the colonized natives subjec t to the outsider British colonizers, and the insider/outsider binary madeand still to an extent makesitself apparent in the relationship between these two groups. The British East India Company ruled the Indian subcontinent from 1612 to 1857 when the British government took over the administration following the Indian Rebelli on of 1857. During the early days of the colony a fluid line divided the British from the Indians, with frequent instances of interracial marriage and of the colonizer going native. 5 Stricter laws segregating the communities came into effect after 1857 and th e racial divide was one of the dominant characteristics during the final century of co lonial expansion in India. Unlike the South African settlers, the British administrators in India had limited constitutional powers because the Indian people vastly outnumb ered the pockets of British colonialists. 5 William Dalrymple, a British historian, provides deta iled examples of such interracial exchange in his quasi-novelistic work White Mughals (2003).


9 However, while postcolonial I ndia did not have to negotiate the presence of its former colonizers, the educated Indian still had to deal with his/her problematic loyalty to British ideological constructs that had become too deeply ingrained to be dismissed following decolonization. Bankims Kapalkundala is a novella produced during the early days of British rule in India (1866), and the adaptation of an Elizabethan play within the context of colonial Bengal creates its own peculiar dyna mics of structure. A further dimension is added by Bankim locating his plot in Mugha l Bengal, thus establishing a separate paradigm of colonialismas Bankims cr itique of the Mughal empire masks his resistance to British rulewithin which he th en sets his commentary on the British Raj. The authors own position as a member of th e British civil and legal systems introduces the perspective of the colonized during th e nineteenth centuryat a time when the challenge posed to British colonial rule had not yet acquired the nationalistic fervor that it did later. Bankims primary concern in this no vel is the exploration of liminal identities and the subversive potential of such in-between selves. Limi nality itself becomes a mode of resistance that allows Banki m to critique not just the impo sed structures of control, but the indigenous patriarchal system as well. Kapalkundala, the novels eponymous heroine, is situated at the cusp of the civilized and the barbaric, 6 a position that paradoxically allows her to perceive the interrelatedness of the two traditionally antagonistic spaces. 6 She is raised by a mysterious father figure on a re mote island away from human society, and then she marries a relatively wealthy, upper middle class Bengali. Her upbringing exposes her to untamed nature while her marital life forces her to abandon her previo us identity in favor of a socially conditioned one.


10 Bankim then goes on to inscribe an androgynous self that seeks to negate the myths of physical and intellectual effeminacy so rigorously propounded by the British, particularly in colonial Bengal. Kapalkundala s significance consists in it s ability to construct an alternative masculinity that is best expresse d in the figure of the socially marginalized woman. The focus thus shifts from the str uggle for control that takes place between Prospero and Caliban to a repositioning of Miranda as the empowered androgynous figure. A radical revisioning on Bankims part succeeds in marginalizing the stories of the male figures by rendering them them atically and conceptually impotent, foregrounding instead the possibili ties of the feminine. He subv erts Shakespeares text so that it provides him with the thematic means to counter the reality of imperial attitudes seemingly endorsed by the play. Bankim adapts The Tempest to reflect the reality of colonial rule in nineteenth century Bengal, and to explore the re lationships of power binding the colonizer and the colonized. While Bankim provides a point of view deep ly rooted in the historical time period of Englands imperialist expansion, J.M. Coetzee speaks literally from the post colony. He is doubly implicated in his historical cont ext as he belongs to the race of the former oppressors. In Disgrace, Coetzee addresses the former colonizers feeling of guilt that accompanies the process of decolonization. His novel reverses the master-slave dichotomy as it places power in the hands of the ex-colonized. It is Prospero who must now seek a voice, who must strive to have his story heard while Caliban threatens to demolish any semblance of equality. The novel is a retelling of the white mans disgrace


11 amidst the rapidly changing political climat e of South Africa, a nd, in this context, The Tempest is peculiarly suited to Coetzees projec t. The power equations are reversed, yet neither side attains anything but a pyrrhic victory. Petrus /Caliban cannot overcome the stigma of violence that Lurie/Prospero pa radoxically imposes upon hi m; the latter cannot escape a sense of helplessness at being s ubjugated by the ex-slaves aggression. Like Prospero, David Lurie may claim divine inspir ation, but Lurie has to accept the intrusion of history and his ultimate role not as the disseminator of knowledge but as the student who learns by becoming the dog-man. He has to re-learn the ethics of the past, this time not through the words of Byron and Wordsw orth, but with the help of his daughter Lucy and her neighbor Petrus. His operatic recreation of the ambiguous romance between Byron and his Italian mistress Teresa marks the same movement of the margins towards the center, with the lush notes ultimately rejected in favor of the tinny, almost slapstick sounds of the toy banjo in the company of toomenny dogs. It is this insistent sense of history that refuses to be bur ied, that forces Prospero to look for ways in which he can come to terms not only with the figures of Caliban and Mirandawho now exist beyond his controlling/creative powersbut also with his newer, dispossessed self. For these authors, the ac t of rewriting a canonical te xt plays out the internal tensions regarding the paradigms of subalter nity and the patterns of resistance. Perhaps one can begin to understand the significance of the act of writing back by concentrating on the interplay of history and context in texts which seek to blur the lines dividing the center from its perceived margins.


12 Chapter One: The Tempest and Its Aftermath In his essay entitled On Originality, Edward Said refers to Lukacs The Theory of the Novel to examine the connections between writing and the intentions that produce it. Such interrelatedness, Said ar gues, arises from a desire to tell a story much more than it is one for telling a story (On Originality, 132). Thus, following Said, one must concentrate not merely on the written text, bu t also draw attention to the subtext that compels authors to write what they write, at the time that they write. Saids analysis of the art of writing further elaborates that, to study literature as inertly given writing, canonized in texts, books, poems, works or dramas, is to treat as natural and concrete that which derives from a desireto writethat is ceaseless, vari ed, and highly unnatural and abstract, since to write is a function never exha usted by the completion of a piece of writing [] [S]ince one has neither the time nor the capacity to study all writing, it becomes necessary to analyze the inte ntion or, where it can be decoded, the stated desire from which a specifically demarcated set of writing originally derives. (Said, 131-135) If one assumes Shakespeares plays to form such a demarcated set, then the unit of study prompts the establishment of a conn ecting structure, whereby the group can be


13 said to have logical coherence. A closer in spection reveals Shakespeares plays to have a recurring preoccupation with structures of power and their subsequent subversion. One such play, The Tempest has frequently come under close scrutiny because of the colonial ideology it expressly presents and critiques. The play gained currency during the process of decolonization, as both the colonialist a nd the revolutionary n ative responded to its exploration of patterns of subjugation and resistance. As Frantz Fanon suggests in The Wretched of the Earth decolonization was the period wh en the colonized aggressively rejected the colonizers supremacy and sought to replace that cu lture with indigenous forms. That substitution often resulted in the colonized appropri ating the symbols of dominationsuch as Shakespeareto address contemporary cultural and political needs. However, the colonizer engaged with The Tempest as well and used it to rationalize both colonial domination and indige nous reactions. A brief survey of a few notable reworkings of The Tempest serves to underscore the complexity of the responses it has evoked, and also situates the play in a dial ogue between power and its subversion. In Prospero and Caliban: Psychology of Colonization 7 the French social scientist Octavio Mannoni proposed a theory behind colonialism that essent ially triggered the reevaluation of the play within the context of (post)colonial Africa and the Caribbean. 8 An English colonial, Philip Mason furthers Mannonis Prospero complex in his autobiography Prosperos Magic: Some Thoughts on Class and Race (1962) and 7 Psychologie de la colonization (1948) 8 I discuss this in greater detail on pg. 8, specifically with reference to The Tempest


14 formulates the broader Pygmalion complex. For him, what drives the colonial master to seek total domination on his secluded island is hi s desire to love only what he has created himself, and when his creature contests hi s authority, Prospero and his kind suffer from uncontrollable rage and irritation. Masons wo rk, unlike Mannonis, reveals an implicit support of native self-government and the diffe rence perhaps stems from the particular anti-colonial movements these wr iters and critics experienced. 9 Each re-reading of The Tempest thus becomes a marker not only of mutually related historical events but also of very individual reactions to them. From th e perspective of Africa n, Caribbean, Asian and Latin American authors, The Tempest becomes a means of forging a nationalist identity; of challenging the Western canon in order to give voice to the many Calibans and Ariels. The works of George Lamming, Aim Csaire and Roberto Retamar assume the form of an internal dialogue, no longer content with ex plaining the colonial situation but rather actively proposing a vi able alternative. In The Pleasures of Exile (1984), the Barbadian novelist George Lamming weaves into his study of the condition of the exiled aut hor in mid-century London, his vision of Shakespeares Caliban, and of all the voices that have been suppressed in order to construct the colonially sanctioned imag e of Prosperos solitary subject. Lamming draws upon C.L.R Jamess discussion of the Haitian slave revolt and the overpowering figure of Toussaint Louverture, in order to resurrect Caliban from the historical position 9 Mannoni wrote Prospero and Caliban in the wake of the Madagascan Uprising of 1947-48 and Masons work appears in 1962 in an attempt to rationalize an ti-colonial movements in Kenya, India and Southern Rhodesia using Mannonis theories.


15 of the questioning colonial subject. The wo rk also brings into question Mannonis identification of Prospero and Caliban as representative of the positions of the colonizer and the colonized respectively, and demons trates how each individually informs the construction of the other. Lamming also identifi es Caibans need for a voice that is his unique creation/possession. The reader needs to uncover the codes of the linguistic system which Prospero introduces to Caliban to understand how the latter appropriates it to formulate his pattern of resistance. Like Lamming, Aim Csaire, the poet and author from Martinique, is also interested in recove ring Calibans voice to narrate the version of colonial history suppressed by th e ruling class, and he brings to bear his involvement in the negritude movement by adapting The Tempest for a specifically black audience. Csaires Une Tempete ( A Tempest )first performed in Paris in 1969employs language to critically re-evaluate western humanist ideals, and to reveal the violence undergirding colonialism. Csaires Caliban re turns to his African past to counter the violence of the civilizing mission. In he r Mastering the Masters: Aim Csaires Creolization of Shakespeares The Tempest , Judith Holland Sarnecki identifies Csaires incorporation of African myth ic and linguistic traditions into the imposed European language as an attempt to beat Shakespeare at his own game. The Caliban Csaire creates speaks a language that, like Creole, is pieced toge ther from fragments that reveal the violence done to Africans forced into slave ships and carried far from their


16 homeland. Calibans creolization of the French language, furthermore, reveals a mastery that unsettles Prospero to the point of madness. (277) Roberto Retamar, a prominent figure in the cu ltural restructuring of postrevolutionary Cuba, disrupts the faade of scholarly objectivity in his reworking of The Tempest Retamar writes his Caliban: Notes Towards a Discussion of Culture in Our America (1969) in a voice that reflects the history of Cuba and crea tes a collective autobiography of the Cuban people. The essay identifies th e divide between Ariel and Caliban as one based on class and, for Retamar, the coloni zed persons loyalty lies with Calibanthe representative of the revolutionary proletariat. Irrespective of their allegiance to either the colonizer or the colonized, these writers manifest the common desire to explor e the relationships shared by the characters in The Tempest relationships defined by patterns of domination and resistance. But can the abovementionedand indeed any (post)colo nialinterpretation of the play escape the charge of presentism 10 that has been leveled agai nst efforts to incorporate The Tempest into the postcolonial canon? Shakespear e writes his plays during the age of discovery when England has certainly begun establishing significan t trading posts in future colonies but her efforts have still not acquired colonial dimensions. However, while any discussion involving a postcolonial reading of The Tempest must necessarily acknowledge the texts situatedness in pre-co lonial history, to argue that the plays 10 A bias towards the present or present-day attit udes, esp. in the interpretation of history. ( Oxford English Dictionary)


17 historical conditions of production sever it from a study of the territories and peoples colonized by Europe would be to deny th e proto-colonial strand that the play emphatically interrogates. At th e risk of making a universalized claim, I would argue that The Tempest embodies so many of the founding principl es underlying colonial structures because the motifs of subjugation and its subve rsion stem from the very circumstances that situate the play within an explora tion of power relations The popularity that The Tempest has enjoyedalong with, significantly, Othello among authors re-telling colonial history, further testifie s to the plays investigation of structures of power. In the case of The Tempest the stated desire 11 is to study the modes of domination and resistance, and their inte rdependent relationship. One way of approaching colonial relati onshipsas it constructs the colonial identityis to analyze the interdependent ti es that bound Britain a nd its colonies, both historically and in the real m of economics. From such a perspective, the concept of dominance and racial or cultural superior ity is integral to the understandingand establishmentof the colonial situation. However, subjugation becomes possible only when there is the colonial other who accep ts or rebels against the imposed dominant authority. The presence of the irredeemable native allows the colonizer to define himself or herself as lawmaker, while the c onquered individual remains a servant as long as he/she has a perceivable opposition. For this particular reading of colonialism, then, the colonizer has to exert omnipotent control in orde r to play his or her part; the 11 Said, On Originality, 135.


18 colonized must acknowledge the others presence to co mplete the picture. Without this pre-existing and complicit relationship (of ma ster and slave) the colony has no social, moral or economic validity. In Orientalism Said explores the binary between the orient and the occident, and he insists that the coloni al self can be defined only in terms of the opposition provided by the non-self or other; The Orient is not only adjacent to Europe; it is also the place of Europes greatest and richest and oldest colonies, the source of its civ ilizations and languages, its cultural contestant, and one of its deepest and most recurring images of the Other. In addition, the Orient has he lped to define Europe (or the West) as its contrasting image, idea, personality, experience. (1-2) In The Tempest the complicit and interdependent relationship shared by the master and the slave expresses itself in repeated instances of individuals seeking to assert their unquestionable power over those who mu st needs fashion their resistance from within the imposed authority. Prospero, Caliban, Ariel, Miranda and the shipwrecked kings men all strive to attain that position of dominance, and their constructions of legitimacyor righteous victimhoodprovide the play with its distin ct exploration of (in)dependence. Even a cursory look at critical trends 12 reveals the significant attention that has been paid to the Prospero-Caliban bina ry in an attempt to reconstruct the latters rebellious voice and to situate both in an in terdependent relationship. Prospero shares a seemingly omnipotent relationship with all ot her characters of the play, and it is his 12 As previously discussed with reference to Mannoni, Mason, Lamming, Csaire and Retamar.


19 desire to obtain sovereignty that drives the primary level of action. The complexity of the bond between the colonial ruler and his thing of darkness, however, exposes Prosperos dependence on the very subject he claims to have subjugated. Carefully concealed within the framework of the play is the rather precarious position th at Prospero himself occupies. His claim to righteous victim hood appears dubious when one considers the circumstances leading to the usurpation of his dukedom. As he recounts his story to Miranda he directs her attention to hi s consuming passion for knowledgeMe, poor man, my library/Was dukedom large enough ( The Tempest 1.2, 109-110). From Prosperos own revelation, Antonio is justifie d in wishing to replace the former in order to effectively manage the affairs of the stat e which, as Prospero remarks, was already his duty by his brothers unofficial mandate. To further cement Antonios position, one can draw on the testimony of fered by Machiavelli in The Prince The means, according to the early modern political thinker, must be subor dinated to the end if by doing so the states good is served. Even if one takes into account Machiavellis rather questionable reputation in early modern England, Prospero s till fails to serve in his appointed role as the duke when he ensconces himself in his pursuit of obscure knowledge and severs his ties with the state and its subjects. I would argue that Prosperos aversion to ruling becomes further problematized in light of his relationship with Caliba n. Stranded on the desert island with ample opportunity to pursue his scholastic goals (Prosp ero tells us in Act 1, Sc. 2 that Gonzalo, one of his courtiers, provides the castaways with Prosperos most treasured volumes),


20 Prospero turns his mind to attaining total dom ination over the few who inhabit the island. At this juncture one is led to wonder whet her or not it is Calibans existence that provokes Prosperos desire to rule Milan. Once again, Prosperos own words can be called upon to substantiate this reading. As the play comes to a close, Prospero informs Alonso that following Mirandas marriage he wishes to retire me to my Milan, where/Every third thought shall be my grave ( The Tempest 5.1, 314-15). The deposed duke gains a moral victory over all who had pr eviously wronged him, yet he expresses no desire to rule his dukedom. It appears as though the lack of Caliban and the enchanted island deprives Prospero of the ability or the need to continue performing the role of the colonial ruler. What Calibans presence does, in effect, is to provide the necessary opposition that Prospero needs in order to esta blish his sense of self as the colonizer. If one acknowledges that it is indeed Calib ans presence that forces Prospero to assume the mantle of kingship, then it follows that the former is as instrumental in shaping the latters being and sense of self as Prospero is responsible for creating a colonized identity for Caliban. In his work entitled Prospero and Caliban: The Psychology of Colonization Octavio Mannoni draws attention to this double bind from which both the ruler and the ruled suffer. Each must constantly resist the other as a real and perceived threat but, paradoxically, th eir identities depe nd on this mutual antagonism. While Mannonis dependency syndrome (and the subsequent fear of abandonment that the native supposedly e xperiences) has been ju stifiably challenged by many postcolonial authors and critics, it is worth reiterating his ideas, if only to


21 underscore the complexity of the relationship that exists between Caliban and Prospero. Mannoni postulates: If we look at the external facts alone we cannot help realizing that the dependence relationship is reciprocal in na ture: if the master has a servant, the servant likewise has a master, and though he [the servant] does not compare himself with him [the master ], he nevertheless takes pl easure in the value of the thing he possesses. ( Prospero and Caliban, 80) Although Mannoni consciously wishes to present the trope of dependence as something that is almost wholly a part of the coloni zed persons psyche, his argument cannot avoid the curious bind which the colonial situation places on both master and slavethe former requires the presence of the latter in order to validate his or her position of authority. His near total reliance on resistance undermines the discourse of domination to the point where one realizes that not only must the co lonized carve out a language of resistance, but the colonizer too needs to resist such dependence. The most crucial blow to Prosperos precarious balance of power is dealt, ironically, by the very language through which he hopes to subjugate the inhabitants of the enchanted isle. It is also the same language that provides him w ith his magical powers and ultimately allows him to cleanse the co rrupt city/court. Prospe ro consciously draws attention to the force of words and indeed relies wholly on them to fashion his world view and foist it both on himself and othe rs. The plays actionas scripted both by Shakespeare and Prosperois carried out primarily through linguistic commands as


22 physical acts are often replaced by their verb al re/foretelling. The very physical punishments that Prospero inflicts upon Ar iel and Caliban are presented as curses. Calibans curses (A southwest bl ow on ye/And blister you all oer! ( The Tempest 1.2, 326-327)) remain ineffective because he is for ced to function within the linguistic system devised by Prospero. The latter can control the language, and thereby the potency, of his spells, while Caliban can onl y verbalize his thoughts. Like all else related to his regime, however, Prosperos power over words is never absolute. One gets a hint of his dependence on words as he frequently urges Miranda to pay closer attention to the words uttered by him; Prosepero: Dost thou attend me? [] Thou attendst not. Miranda: Oh, good sir, I do. Prospero: I pray thee, mark me. (The Tempest 1.2, 78-88) Paradoxically, his repeated urgings serve to underscore the instabil ity of his discourse and thus, as a consequence, the omnipotent pos ition he wishes to appropriate. Because the whole structure of his regime depends on his control of words, Prospero becomes vulnerable if Caliban can expose the inherent duality in Prosperos language. Like the colonizer, Prospero requires a monologic langu age; one that the colonized can learn but never appropriate to articulate his or her own desires. Prospero teaches Caliban the European tongue for much the same reasons Robinson Crusoe teaches Fridayto civilize the native and facilitate communication. However, Caliban s chargeYou taught me


23 language and my profit ont/ Is I know how to curse ( The Tempest 1.2, 366-367) discloses his ability to manipulate the coloni zers language to express his own emotions, thereby revealing Prosperos lack of total control over meaning and truth. The point is further reinforced when Caliban plots agains t his master using the same linguistic code that was employed to colonize the island. The colonized subject narrates his version of the islands colonial history to Stephano a nd Trinculothe drunken shipwrecked men in Alonsos serviceand enlists thei r help to overthrow Prospero: Caliban: I say by sorcery he got this isle; From me he got it. If thy Greatness will Revenge it on him [] Remember First to possess his books, for without them Hes but a sot, as I am, nor hath not One spirit to command. They all do hate him As rootedly as I. ( The Tempest 3.2, 51-95) Caliban is no longer the passive vessel vulnerable to Prosperos linguistic promises as he identifies language 13 as the source of his masters pow er. He uses the language that Prospero teaches him to plan Prosperos dow nfall. The subjugated succeeds in trapping the possessor of the Word with his own language. 13 I suggest language forms the foundation for the knowledge that Prospero acquires from his books. In this context, then, when Caliban alludes to Prosperos b ooks, he identifies also the linguistic power that his master derives from those brave utensils ( The Tempest 3.2, 96).


24 The Barbadian author George Lamming all udes to this prison -like nature of language in The Pleasures of Exile and although he places Caliban within such a cell, it is Prospero who is ironically confined; Prospero believeshis belief in his own powers demands itthat Caliban can learn so much and no more. Caliban can go so far and no further. Prospero lives in the absolute certainty that Language which is his gift to Caliban is the very prison in which Calibans achievements will be realised and restricted. Caliban can never reach perfection [] [f]or Language itself, by Calibans whole relation to it, will not allow his expansion beyond a certain point. ( The Pleasures 109-110) However this absolute certainty preven ts Prospero from circumventing his own system of words, thereby de priving him of a language of resistance. From such a perspective, Caliban is empowered because he canand doessubvert language initially when he curses both Prospero and Miranda for misleading him with false promises and usurping his island, and then later while plotting with Stephano and Trinculo. For Prospero to question his own linguistic system would amount to a fatal challenge to his already unstable identity. Hence the colonial master has to pe rpetually play out the ritual of linguistic control, knowing full well that his created sens e of self has no existence beyond it. Prospero must teach Caliban his own tongue, but the commands and punishments are uttered only to reaffirm Prosperos retention of the image of the rational European man. If Caliban fails to understand or respond to this alien language, then the white man has no means of recreating the char ade of western civilization at the margins


25 of the known world. Prosperos desire to cl ing to his native tongue masks a double layer of fearof becoming or, worse st ill, of being the irredeemable otherthat lurks at the fringes of his quotidian interactions with the inhabitants of the outpost. For Prospero the alternative to the identity th at his language provides is a fear of being contaminated by Calibans system of signs, and consequen tly of becoming the dreaded other. Lying beneath even this paranoia is a deeper re alization, one which mu st be dispelled if Prospero is to retain the moral and political high ground. In Prospero and Caliban Mannoni touches upon the first level of fear as he discusses the European observers response to Madagascan behavior: The observer is repelled by the thoughts he encounters in his own mind, and it seems to him that they are the thoughts of th e people he is observing. In any such act of projection the subj ects purpose is to reco ver his own innocence by accusing someone else of what he considers to be a fault in himself. (20) What Mannonis words do not acknowledge is that Prospero can never resist his own language because he is eternally aware and frig htened that by doing so he will be forced to acknowledge the Caliban within himself. Caliban, on the other hand, ha s to craft his resistance fr om within the system of domination and to succeed he must necessarily reinvent the linguistic codes. Ironically, it is Prosperos mode of domination that allows Caliban access to the point of rupture in the colonial fabric. The island comes under Prospero s control the moment that he is able to render its past inaccessible and, even more importantly, irrelevant for its native


26 inhabitants. Sycorax, her prior claim to the island, Ariel and Calibans individual existences become invisible, at best re membered through mythic narratives almost always as expounded by Prospero. The colonizers dismissive attitude toward the islands history becomes apparent when he refutes Calibans charge of usurpationThou most lying slave,/Whom stripes may move, not kindness! ( The Tempest 1.2, 347-348)and provides his version of the colonys past: Prospero: This blue-eyed hag [Sycorax] was hither brought with child And here was left by th sailors [] Then was this island Save for the son th at she did litter here, A freckled whelp, hag-bornnot honored with A human shape. ( The Tempest 1.2, 271-286) Homi Bhabha, however, suggests by disavowing Calibans history, the European colonizer allows for the existence of a logic of reversal ( The Location of Culture 15). Bhabha argues that [s]uch a forgettingor disavowalcreates an uncertainty at the heart of the generalizing subject of civ il society, compromising the individual that is the support for its universalist aspiration [] The unhomely moment relates to the traumatic ambivalences of a personal psychic history to the wider disjunctions of political history ( The Location of Culture 15).


27 This uncertainty in the ordered structur e is made visible in Calibans speech This islands mine, by Sycorax my mo ther,/Which thou takst from me ( The Tempest 1.2, 334-335). By directly referring to Prosperos usurping tendencie s he disturbs the delicate symmetry of power that the colonizer wishes to maintain. Suddenly, the island is no longer the abode of the wrongfully usurped magician/duke and his complaining slave. Instead it becomes the home of the usurped duke and the betrayed native as Caliban narrates the history of colonization: Caliban: When thou camst first, Thou stokst me and made much of me, wouldst give me Water with berries int, and teach me how To name the bigger light, and how the less, That burn by day and night. And then I loved thee And showed thee all the qualities othisle, The fresh springs, brine pits, barren place and fertile. Cursed be I that did so! ( The Tempest 1.2, 335-342) The uncanny shadow world of Calibans claims effectively reverses Prosperos absolute logic supporting the imperia list project. Calibans proclamation of his own selfhood contrasts the way in which Lamming presents him, and the difference between the two Calibans clarifies the relationship that the slave shares with his master. In the chapter entitled A monster, a child, a slave, (in The Pleasures of Exile ) Lamming interprets


28 Caliban in the context of European humanism that Prospero imposes upon the native of the enchanted island. He submits that Caliban has no sight [] Caliban may become Man; but he is entirely outside the orbit of Human. It is not Prospero who keeps him ther e; nor is it his own fault that he is there. It is some original Law [] which has ordained the state of existence we call Caliban. If Caliban turns cannibal, it is not because human flesh may appear a necessary substitute for food which is absent It is rather because he is incapable of differentiating between one kind of reality and a nother (110-111). I would suggest that what Lammings readi ng crucially points out, but fails to expand upon, becomes evident in Calibans own response to the charge of ra pe. He categorically asserts his desire to people the isle with Calibans ( The Tempest 1.2, 354), thus bringing forth the image of an alternate reality. Calibans statement contradicts Lammings because it demonstrates not a failure on the pa rt of the colonized person in differentiating between two kinds of reality, but rather manifests a consci ous decision to reject the notion of the individual as depicted by Prospero. Shakespeares deformed monster consciously identifies his progeny as Calibans and not as men While Caliban has been the primary symbol of resistance for the colonized peoples, Prosperos other subject/servant Ariel, the airy spirit, represents another crucial aspect of colonialism. Ironically, his proximity to Prospero creates his greatest potential for subversion while simultaneously undermining his sense of an independent self. Ariel contrasts Calibans bestiality with his light airy being and thus seemingly occupies a


29 higher position in the islands hi erarchy. He still expresses disc ontent, but his defiance is almost always followed by willing obedienceand the promise of freedomthus problematizing any straightforward explicati on of his reaction to Prosperos orders. Prospero also leads him to believe that his present condition of subjugation is infinitely better than his past, although, ironically, Prospero never fails to remind Ariel of the consequences, should he choose to disobey; Prospero: Dost thou forget From what a torment I did free thee? Ariel: No. [] Prospero: If thou more mu rmurst, I will rend an oak And peg thee in his knotty entrails till Thou hast howled away twelve winters. ( The Tempest 1.2, 251-298) If one retains the colonial paradigm, Ariel occupies th e position of that peculiar entity called the reformed native. Externally he is still the other to Prosperos Western self, but, unlike Caliban, he internal izes the colonizers moral and educational ideals. His powers, at a lesser level, mimic t hose of Prospero, and are effectively used by the latter to carry out what, in the langua ge of politics, can only be termed as administrative affairs. As in any historical colony, Ariel becomes the colonized subject who has been successfully educat ed by the colonizer to fill in the clerical posts in the government. While in The Tempest Shakespeare does not directly allude to Ariel overturning Prosperos power stru cture, the extent to which the colonizer must depend on


30 the spirit raises significant questions regard ing Ariels submissiveness. At this point the concept of mimicry becomes important in understanding the nature of his resistance. Homi Bhabhas essay, Signs Taken for Wonders, succinctly defines mimicry as a strategy for exposingand exploitingthe essential duality embedded in colonial governance. Mimicry, Bhabha posits, occurs through the ruse of recognition (165). Bhabha is careful to distinguish it from Fanons idea of the black identity as becoming entirely passive and allowing the white man to represent his self-esteem (126). In Black Skin, White Masks Fanon asserts that colonial educati onand here he spea ks specifically of Martiniqueforces the black child to incu lcate a way of thinking that is essentially white in nature, so much so that the child comes to recognize itself as white. Only when this child comes in direct contact with the wh ite man does he first f eel the full weight of being black. The black person now has to nego tiate the conflict be tween being black and possessing an attitude that a ssociates the color with moral and sexual depravity. His moral standards urge him to eliminate th e black man from his consciousness and the struggle leads to a paralysis of effective action. For Bhabha, the encounter between the black and the white person is a moment filled not with confusion, but possibility. He theorizes a third possibility in the form of an ironic compromise (122) that allows that colonized person to escape the black/white binary; [I]t is difficult to agree entirely with Fanon that the psychic choice is to turn white or disappear. There is the more ambivalent, third choice: camouflage, mimicry, black skins/white masks (172).


31 Within the notion of mimicry is embedded a kind of double vision, which complies with colonial authority, but simultaneously disrupts the same. Mimicking the colonizer camouflages those modes of know ledge and beliefs that are considered inappropriate by the dominant discourse. Acco rding to Bhabha, this form of colonial imitation occurs because the colonial power can only partially transmit its ideals of thought and manners to the natives of the col ony, as total identificati on on the part of the colonized would cause the colonizers power to become automatically invalid. Prospero only delegates the manual portion of magic to Arie l in order to ensure that he retains the upper hand in the relationship. Hence the educ ated colonized is forced to occupy the position of not quite/not white (131)almost the same as the colonizer because he is imbibing the latters ideas and ideologies, but also different because the colonizer and the colonized can never be identical. Mimicry embodies that gap between difference and desire that is a part of any colonial discourse. On the one hand the colonizer desires to create reformed, rational beings, while on the other hand he/she fears the difference between the white person and the coloni zed subject. The double vision prompted by mimicry highlights the hollowness of colonial power, and so what gets mimicked is only the symbol of authority, estranged from the meaning which it signifies. Bhabha suggests that this hollow doubling, because it occurs within the range of knowledge and belief systems that had been disavowed by the coloni al structure, is cap able of producing new and different sites of power, which can then question imposed institutions of control.


32 If read in the light of Bhabhas hypothesis, Ariels mimicry then opens up the possibility of a serious challenge that can be posed from within the colonial system itself, using modes of authority as appropriated means of subversion. In this light, it is interesting to draw attention to the Shakespearean canon which served initially as a vehicle for authorial contro l. Shakespeare became one of the central texts of the civilizing mission by which the West sought to enlightenand humanizethe East, and, not surprisingly, the prominent position was acc orded to Shakespearean texts in colonial educational institutions. In general, English as a discipline was first established in the colonies at a time when the classical curri culum still had a firm hold in the mother country itself, and became one of the most effective means of governing the colonies. English was introduced in India following Thomas Babington Macaulays Minute in 1835, in which he stressed the need to replace oriental learning with European education to create the reformed native. Gauri Vi swanathan examines the growth of English studies in the coloniesin Br itish India in particulara nd theorizes that when one perceives the ideological force of literature it is but a short step towards uncovering the cultural hegemony implicit in any such means of imparting education. As she formulates her thesis in Masks of Conquest Viswanathan asserts: Indeed, once such [ideological] importanc e is conceded to the educational function, it is easier to see that value assigned to lite raturesuch as the proper development of character or the shaping of critical thought or the formation of aesthetic judgmentare only problema tically located there and are more


33 obviously serviceable to the dynamic of pow er relations between the educator and those who are to be educated. A vital if subtle connection exists between a discourse in which those who are to be educated are represented as morally and intellectually deficient and the attribution of moral and intellectual values to the literary works they are assigned to read. (4) This subtle connection calls for the assigned works to represent the racial superiority which the colonizer wants to proj ect. In this context English becomes doubly important given the almost unconscious c onnection posited between the canon and the British values that it supposedly embodies, thus serving as the ideal vehicle for cultural control. The Bookand by induction, Shakes pearesimultaneously represents the colonial power and the civilizing mission that it undertakes. It plays such a crucial role within the colonial context because it appa rently symbolizes the Wests desire to illuminate the Eastern darkness, and thereby humanize the mentally deficient colonized. The high moral ground of this Enlightenme nt-inspired project is undercut by the colonizers desire to create a class of reformed natives, capable of filling in the clerical posts in the administration. Such an ideological inculcation finds an interesting ally in Shakespeare given the latters close relations hip with the rise and growth of British nationalism. His playtexts are marketed as the commodity ideally suited to raise the intellectually and morally handicapped native to the level of the superior ruling class. To all appearances, the co lonized strains to imbibe the novel knowledge while the colonizer experiments with the formers pow ers of retention and repetition.


34 However, colonial authority, as projecte d through its humanizing missions, is far from being a stable discourse and ambivale nce exists at multiple levels within the structure of power. Most damaging is the co lonizers perception of the colonized as a willing receptacle for occidental ideas, and as possessing a sense of moral/intellectual inferiority that must necessarily precede th e desire to be instructed. This image, ironically, operates within th e rulers mind, significantly removed from socio-historical reality. The desire to create an impersonal sy stem of management, relying solely on the constructed sense of superiority, distances th e ruler from the ruled, making the latter an object emptied of all personal identity to accommodate the knowledge already established and being circulated about [the] native ( Masks of Conquest 11). Paradoxically, this inability to interact w ith the real subject allows the colonized to perceive the dual nature of the colonial government and find the means to subvert it. The image that the colonizer creates relies almost exclusively on the chasm between the historically extant colonized and his ruler s perception of him. The gap forms a liminal zone which brings into sharp focus the di fference between reality and ideology, also allowing the colonized to mutate into a peculiar hybrid of submission and resistance. This entity has the peculiarly disturbing ability of acknowledging only th e form of authority, denying any validity to its content. Even th e printed bookthe very source of colonial authorityloses its omnipotence for the hybr id because it becomes only a fragmented projection of authority. The st ructures of knowledge and hist ory denied legitimacy by colonialism now enter the dominant discourse and question the rules of authority, as


35 hybridity reverses the process of disclaiming essential for the existe nce of colonialism. The judgmental stance assumed by the coloni zer is exposed by the hybrid as being merely a position of power, and the culture of the colonized ceases to be that which is authoritatively determined by the mother countr y. Colonial narrative, which had thus far assumed the mask of monologism, now has to contend with other historical and cultural narratives. The intellectual guard ians of colonial supremacy cease to function merely as instruments of instruction as they are appropria ted to tell the story of those races that they were supposed to subjugate. Thus begins a complex process of rewriting, in which voices that had hitherto been silenced to sustain more Euro-centric points of view are given primacy. Such appropriations complicate any eas y establishment of binaries between the ruler and the ruled, and gradually the fissures in authority are revealed through the very narratives that were once symbols of power.


36 Chapter Two: Refashioning Gender: Kapalkundala and The Tempest Bankimchandra Chatterjee occupies th e curiously doubled position of being a conservative Bengali Hindu within the larger framework of nineteenth century colonial Bengal. On the one hand he is deeply enme shed in Western ideologies, conditioned in part by thinkers such as Comte, Darwin and Max Muller, while on the other he draws extensively from Hindu mythology and cont emporary reformist thought, creating a peculiar combination that simultaneously reinforces and critiques the Bengal of his religio-cultural inheritance. His fictional and non-fictio nal works link empirical and imaginary histories in a conscious effort to write a continuous narr ative of the past to counter the British colonial stereotype of the weak Bengali/Hindu/Indian. In doing so, Bankim 14 attempts to create not only a community with a legitimate history that can serve as an inspiration for both the present and th e future of the colonized people, but also contests the image of the effeminate Be ngalia representation th at had become the justification for colonial administration. The British actively propagated the myth of the physically, morally and in tellectually weak Bengali babu 15 an individual in constant 14 I refer to Chatterjee as Bankim following the co nvention used by most contemporary scholars of the period. 15 Usually used to refer disparagingly to middle/upper class Bengali gentlemen as having only a veneer of western education, and as indulging in a debauched lifestyle.


37 need of Western supervisionand Bankim cha llenges this mythic id entity, seeking to replace it with an alternat e gender construction. As John Ro sselli submits in The SelfImage of Effeteness: Physical Educati on and Nationalism in Nineteenth-Century Bengal, countering the effete image imposed upon the Bengali/Indian formed the basis of the cultural revivalist movement of whic h Bankim was such a central part. Rosselli traces the reasons behind such a perception of the Bengali and also the importance given to imaginatively recreating history in order to oppose the myth of frailty that the British methodically propagated. So pervasive was this image of the Bengali that the colonized felt this to beat least in terms of their co ntemporary culturea reality that had to be rectified. Rosselli suggests th at in colonial Bengal, Bengalis, they [the Bengalis themselves] admitted, were lilliputian in size and weak in constitution, physically about the weakest people in India, in mere physique and courageinferior to Englis hmen. Educated Bengalis were broken in health; the term of life accorded to the Bengali c onstitution has been rapidly decreasing. To Bankim Chandra Chatterjee [] the matter was simple: Bengalis never had any physical valour. This lack was freely admitted. (123) The reformed, ideal Bengali finds comp lete expression in the novelists later works, but his search for a viable identity begins as early as in the exploration of gender in Kapalkundala (1866). The novel marks Bankims first major publication in Bengali


38 and also his fascination w ith reworking western texts. 16 The plot of Kapalkundala is set in the Contai subdivision of Bengal, and it narrates the tale of a young woman brought up by a Prospero-like father figure on a desert island. Kapalkundala falls in love with Nabokumara man who, like Ferdinand, is st randed on the islandand she escapes her domineering father by marrying this man a nd fleeing with him. Bankim then introduces Luthfunnisha (alias Moti Bibi), Nabokuma rs previous wife, but no one, except the reader, knows her real identity till the very end of the novel. Kapalkundala closes with the heroines suicidean act that symbolizes her rejection of her socially conditioned wifely identity in favor of the unt amed, natural part of her self. What makes the novel unique is that in it Bankim challenges the identity imposed by the colonizer through a reworking of a canonical Western textShakespeares The Tempest Bankims decision to choose The Tempest a work that the imperial masters had propagated as embodying the superior culture, is integral to the nationalist/culture revivalist project of the late ni neteenth century. He employs the characters of the play to re-imagine the concept of the masculine and the feminine, and to reclaim the gender identities that had been systematically nega ted under colonial rule. Thus Bankims act of writing back to The Tempest involves both a retelling of th e plays basic plot from a colonial context, and a re-visioning of the gender identities a ssigned by the British. 16 Bankim later goes on to loosely refashion Thomas De Quincys Confessions of an English Opium-eater in his 1875 publication Kamalakanter Daptar ( From the Desk of Kamalakanta ).


39 For Bankim, rewriting The Tempest serves two significantly productive functions. From the perspective of colonial Bengal, subverting the paradigm of British authority using such an identifiably British icon as Shakespeare exposes the contingent nature of colonial power and allows for the existence of multiple narratives instead of a single, occidentally-defined authorial voice. Kapalkundala becomes symbolic of the Bengali intellectuals ability to appropriate the col onizers discourse and to create a text whose codes of communication exclude the ruli ng class. Thus access to a work like The Tempest no longer requires the exclusive sanction of the culturally superior British, and what is instead made available to the intellectually aware Bengali is the subaltern voice that the colonizer wishes to suppress. At the leve l of the text itself, Bankim reworks the characters of Miranda and Caliban to formul ate his peculiar brand of gender identity. He exploits the plays insistent questioning of power as stemming from both the ruler and the ruled to implicate the colonizer in the crea tion of the myth of the effeminate Bengalia myth that must necessarily appear as truth for the propagation of th e imperialist project. The alternative that Bankim presents rejects the hypermasculinity of imperial Britain in favor of the empowered feminine principle, and he finds a su rprising ally in Miranda who he transforms into a powerfully androgynous figure, balancing both the masculine and the feminine. If there is anything more central to ni neteenth century intellectual Bengali culture than the British presence, it is the ov erwhelming acceptance of Shakespeare as representative of that presence. Gauri Viswanathan, in her work The Masks of Conquest,


40 alludes to the dominant position occupied by English literature within the colonial framework and traces the growth of Englis h studies as a means of cultural subjugation. Bankim presents himself as well aware of the ideological force of literature in his novel Kapalkundala when he reworks The Tempest to tell the tale of a Bengali woman and her inability to integrate within a patriarchal society. Kapalkundala shares many plot elements with the Shakespearean playthe magus-like father figure, the woman existing beyond the social structure, and a male figure closely resembling Ferdinandbut the reference to Shakespeare extends even to the structural aspect of the novel. Bankim uses key phrases from Shakespeareamong other En glish and classical Indian authorsas epigraphs to the chapters, thus consciously equating a Wester n ideological construct with its oriental counterpart. 17 Significantly, however, he negotiate s any direct critique of the system by situating his novels within a seemingly remote historical past, often invoking Mughal 18 rule in order to displa ce the points of colonial r upture. The most apparent example of such temporal distancing can pe rhaps be best seen in his novel entitled Anadamatha ( Abbey of Bliss ), in which the ruling power is identified thro ugh progressive editions as ingrez (the English), sepoy (soldiers), and finally as yaban (a pejorative term 17 Bankims comparative approach is discussed in greater detail with reference to his essay Shakuntala, Miranda Ebang Desdemona, but it is also evident in hi s selection of epigraphs. Each epigraph summarizes the action that unfolds in the chapter, and while Shakespeare functions as Bankims primary English source, Kalidasa serves as his Indian equivalent. Thus while the two opening chapters are headed by brief quotes from The Comedy of Errors and King Lear respectively, the next fe w epigraphs are drawn from Kalidasas Raghuvamsa and Shakuntala Bankims choice of texts and authors indicates a desire to obliterate the ideological hierarchy that the colonizer sought to impose through literary works. 18 The Mughal empire was the Muslim imperial power that ruled the Indian subcontinent from around the early 16 th century to the middle of the nineteenth century.


41 used for Muslims). The objects of criticism are merely renamed, and not eradicated by the veiled threat of censorship. 19 Although less prominent in Kapalkundala here too Bankim places the burden of colonial rule on the Mughal system, thus ensuring that his interrogation of an identifiable Western text fails to register on the censorship radar. At the same time, it would be inappropriate to judge Bankim by modern day postcolonial standards in his negation of British dominance, as his argument seeks to validate the politically effective Hindu with in the context of th e alien government. The Westand its ideological appendagesform a liberating backdrop against which to place the logic of an emergent colonial na tionalism. The novel form is at once a product and a critique of colonial Bengal and one can trace in it the foundations of the transformed colonized subject and the language of his/her ar ticulation. The meteoric rise in the readership of the novel and the various linguistic and st ructural modifications in its Bengali versions testify to the dual pressu res of unquestioned a pproval and critical negation of Enlightenment rationality. To be ab le to satisfy both these trends, textual subversion must needs assume a subtler form inclusive of the complex loyalty on the novelists part toward the foreign ruler. Th e Bengali novel as it emerges simultaneously rejects the colonizers essentialized definitions of the effeminate Bengali self, while accepting European humanist ideals. 19 Bankims anti-colonial writing might have cost him a promotion while serving as the deputy magistrate in the town of Khulna, Bengal.


42 Significantly, Bankims first novel, Rajmohans Wife his sole work in Englishfailed to make an impression on both European and Indian audiences. Rajmohans Wife represents a conscious attempt to e xpress himself in the language of the dominant discourse, an attempt demonstrated to be inadequate. What Bankim proceeds to do, subsequent to this literary failure, is to incorporate the West within the comparative mode of study, thereby appropria ting the legitimacy of the colonizers texts to validate vernacular literature. His essay, Shakuntala Miranda Ebang Desdemona 20 published in the Baisakh edition of the Bengali literary magazine Bangadarshan compares Kalidasas Shakuntala to Shakespeares Miranda and Desdemona in an apparent attempt to explicate Shakuntalas coy behavior thr ough the lens of Shakespearean heroines. The study, however, curiously undermines the centrality of Shakespeare when it emphasizes the difference of cultures that functions outsi de the ambit of the colonizers claim to intellectual and social superior ity. Bankims approach is deceptively straightforward, yet strategically subvers ive when he discusses Miranda s lack of social graces; Shakuntala possesses all the social graces Miranda none. She has not the least inhibition in praising Ferdinand to her father; the kind of praise one would lavish upon a picture [] Yet the shyness that is intrinsic to womankind is not lacking in Miranda. That is why there is in her simplicity, in comparison to Shakuntalas, a novelty and charm [] [W]e understand th at Miranda though unaware of social custom, was affectionate and was disturbed at seeing someone suffer [] [M]ark 20 Shakuntala, Miranda and Desdemona


43 the amazing technique of the two poets [K alidasa and Shakespeare]; they did not set about portraying Shakuntala and Miranda after conferring with each other, but the characters seem as though sketched by the same pen. (Shakuntala Miranda Ebang Desdemona, 223-224) The subtle equating of the two poets negates any asse rtion of hierarchy, rendering invalid the very premise legitimizing th e colonizing mission. Characteristically, Bankims probing analysis does not end ther e as he goes on to remark on the easy availabilityand indeed almost the omnipresenceof Shakespeare in colonized households; We wanted to reproduce this first love ta lk between Ferdinand and Miranda in its entirety but it is not nece ssary. Everyone has Shakespeare at home; everyone may open the original text and read it. (Shakuntala Miranda Ebang Desdemona, 226) Shakespeares presence is never denied; inde ed Bankim calls on it to substantiate his argument. The implication of centrality is re futed, and, by consequence, the structure of power that imposes Western ideological positions. The choice of textsand the cultural unde rstanding Bankim wishes to articulate through such a comparative studyunderscores his proto-nationalist atti tude and is itself a subject of much critical debate. For my present purposes however, I wish to focus on the comparative mode that the essay assume s, and its implications in evaluating the


44 characters of Kapalkundala and Luthf unnishathe two female protagonists in Kapalkundala In Shakuntala, Miranda Ebang De sdemona, Bankim pays particular attention to Miranda in orde r to undergird, and explain, th e differences between her and Shakuntala; Miranda is once ag ain at the core of the na rrative as he constructs Kapalkundala. Bankims heroine shares many el ements of her fate with Miranda, in a manner that can hardly be thought of as coincidental. She is brought up by the Kapalik 21 who, though not her biological father, imparts the same care and education as Prospero does to his daughter. Despite having lived in the wilderness, away from human society for all her life, Kapalkundala, at least superf icially, displays no asocial or anti-social behavior. Like Miranda, she is acutely aw are of her love for Nabokumar, although the reader is not made aware of it till much la ter in the novel. There are, however, some significant differences between the two female protagonists that exhibit a more complex form of adaptation on Bankims part than has been conventionally acknowledged. Although Kapalkundala is Nabokumars legitimate wife in the course of the novel, she lacks the knowledge of soci al conventions that Mira nda seems to possess. For Kapalkundala the transition from her island hom e to her marital home is prompted not by love but by a desire for self protection a nd the move is by no means an easy one. So, unlike Miranda, Kapalkundala can never be forthcoming about her love for Nabokumar. To an extent, the dissimilarities arise not as a result of a lack of social graces but rather because of Kapalkundalas indifference towards them. The final example of this 21 Roughly translates as a sage worshippin g the darker aspects of the Goddess Kali.


45 indifference occurs when she agrees to leav e Nabokumar for Luthfunnisha to reclaim her position as his wife; Kapalkundala again set about thinking. He r minds eye swept all over the wide world but could not see any familiar face there. She looked into her heart but, strange! she could not find Nabokumar there. Then why on earth should she be a thorn in the path of Lu thfunnishas happiness? ( Kapalkundala 142) This Kapalkundala is difficult to reconcile with the Miranda who pledges not just her love but even her life to Ferdinand. Ye t Bankim provides enough textual clues not to sever the comparison entirely. Thus the question ariseshow does the novelist utilize these differences between the characters in his reworking of The Tempest ? What is peculiarly interes ting about Bankims novel is th at it portrays not a single, unified Miranda, but rather splits the character into two distinct individuals Kapalkundala and Luthfunnisha. In a move that closely resembles Marilyn Frenchs 22 division of the feminine into its inlaw and outlaw aspects, Bankim juxtaposes the docile Miranda with her uncontrolled self. It is al most as though they mirror each other with Luthfunnisha representing the socially c onditioned self of Prosperos daughter. Luthfunnisha may seem to be far more worldl y wise than Miranda could ever hope to be, and her status as a courtesan in the Mughal c ourt could not be further from that of the usurped Dukes only offspring. Yet through this division Bankim is able to project the 22 In her work entitled Shakespeares Division of Experience


46 version of Miranda that emerges once the ch aracters leave the enchanted island. Although Shakespeare considerably problematizes the genre of the festive comedy, 23 The Tempest retains the structural form of the genre with courtly di sorder, retreat, reconciliation, renewal and a return. If this pattern is accepted, then Nabokumars first wife Luthfunnishasymbolizes a return for Miranda from the green world into the urban space. While Kapalkundala represents Miranda s past and present, Luthfunnisha reflects her future selfone enmeshed in the world of the court. The transition between the two worlds is not easy, owing to the incomplete division between the city and the country with which both Shakespeare and Bankim e xperiment. Thus neither Kapalkundala nor Luthfunnisha can be perfectly reconciled with Miranda, but together they reveal the various facets of her charact er. In answer to the question posed earlier then, Bankim retells Shakespeares play by imaginativel y exploring the possible trajectories of individual characters. A secondary project Bankim undertakes while writing back to The Tempest is an investigation of the liminality of his female characters. This is also a part of the anticolonial drive that undergirds much of Ba nkims work as it helps create the alternate gender identity to counter the imposed coloni al stereotype of the weak native. The liminial feminine identity that he envi sions derives its potency from rejecting 23 One of the most significant ways in which he does this is by dissolving any neat boundaries between the city and the country, thereby rendering the concept of a retreat into a purer world considerably more problematic. Kapalkundala reflects this same ambiguity regardin g ordered and chaotic spaces when the island and the forest become not sites of refuge but of dark uncertainties. Also, see reference to C.L. Barbers Shakespeares Festive Comedy in the following chapter.


47 conventional gender stereotypes and finds its full expression in the figure of the Mother Goddess in Anandamatha. In Kapalkundala Bankim recruits Miranda and Caliban to help him fashion the empowered feminine se lf. The split in Mirandas characteras shown through Kapalkundala and Luthfunnishareveals the social conditioning that these women are subjected to by the patriarchal system. Caliban provides the prototype of the untamed thing of darknessa figure that Kapalkundala must strive to become in order to achieve complete self-expression. Ho wever, before identifying the Calibanic in Kapalkundala, it is necessary to consider the plural identities Bankim bestows upon both her and Luthfunnisha to understand his fa scination with the gendered self. The two female protagonists of Kapalkundala together work out what can only be described as an experiment on the part of the novelist, in wh ich Bankim pushes the plurality of identity to its logical extreme. Kapalkundala is christened Mrinmoyee by her husbands family in order to reclaim her from the asocial past that her name is thought to represent. 24 Luthfunnisha introduces herself as Moti Bibi when she first meets Nabokumar but the novel then reveals her to be Padmabati, his first wife. Bankim is careful to stress that she assumes the name of Moti Bibi only when travelling under a disguise, thus undergirding also the need for pseudonyms in certain situations. The multiplicity of names projects the instability of these iden tities and the inability of 24 Renaming of the newly married wife and thus symbolically severing her identitarian ties with her natal family and claiming her as their own was a traditional device in many Bengali households up until the early decades of the twentieth ce ntury. According to the nov el [t]he name Kapalkundala was a bit horrible so women-folk called her Mrinmoyee( Kapalkundala, 68). Note in this context, the very patriarchal act of renaming Antoinette as Bertha, by her un-named husband in Rhys The Wide Sargasso Sea is also the first step towards erasure and cont rol of her untamed self.


48 Bankims female characters to inhabit any one, rigidly defined domain of selfhood. The image that the reader perceives is one in wh ich the many personas continually threaten to collapse, and indeed mutate, into one anot her. To see Mrinmoyee and Padmabati as essentially a single self woul d be to acknowledge the mold that their husbands family places them inthat of the s uperficially domesticated Hindu wife, deriving contentment from the legitimacy of social relations. Yet, the constant pressure of their other, less tamed selves impinges upon any such easy id entification, and ultimately the two women are defined by those very outlawed identities. The problematic divi sion and juxtaposition of selves can be seen as an extension of Bankims analysis of the liminal within the social. Nabokumars second meeting with Moti Bibi at the inn marks a moment when one individual self is made to bear the burden of multiple identities. To demonstrate the paradox, I quote from both their first a nd the second encounter beginning with Nabokumars response to Moti Bibis taunti ng enquiry regarding his knowledge of beautiful women; I have seen many a woman [,] answered he but never such a beautiful one. The woman boastfully asked Not a singl e one? [] Not a single one! NoI can never say that. So far so good rejoined the woman. Is she your wife? Why? What, above all things, sends you on the thought of a wife? The Bengalee always regards his wife as an unsurpassed beauty. [] My wife is


49 with me. It gave another opportunity of showing Motis vein of humour. Is she the non-pareil beauty ? asked Moti. ( Kapalkundala 54-57) When Moti makes the final statement, she is already aware of Naboku mars identity, thus posing the narratival problem of identifying the subject of this sent ence. The non-pareil beauty she mentions could simultaneously refer to her, to Padmabati (her earlier name as Nabokumars first wife), Ka palkundala, or Mrinmoyee (the name given to Kapalkundala by her husbands family after her marriage with Nabokumar) as they all fulfill the prerequisite of the claimNabokuma rs divinely beautiful wife. Note however, that at this point only Luthfunnisha and the re ader are aware of the multiplicity of selves and the multiplicity of wifely-identities, so far as Nabokumar is concerned. By the time Kapalkundala acquires this knowledge, she is al ready too committed to one identity to be able to effect a shift in character. This in sight allows Luthfunnisha to move back and forth between her various selves, manipulating them in order to enable her return to Hindu social legitimacy. However, the final self she consciously adopts in order to become Padmabati again, is the disguise of a Brahmin boy and she is left stranded with this identity, as both Nabokumar and Kapalkundala (the only two people who know about her real identity) commit suicide at the end of the narrative. Thus Luthfunnishas constant role-shifts take her beyond not merely the notion of unified selfhood, but outside biologically designated gender frames as well. Kapalkundala is herself a curiously a ndrogynous figure, simultaneously straddling several zones of liminality. While the circumstances of her upbringing and her


50 relationship with the mysterious Kapalik pl ace her in a situation similar to that of Miranda, Bankim introduces a number of textua l clues that reveal the presence of an alternate other within Kapalkundala. Para doxically, she is not just a reworking of Miranda but of Caliban as well. The dark, unpredictable dimension of her nature that makes her so peculiarly unsuitable to a Benga li, nineteenth centur y domesticated social context, ironically se rves to make her repr esent the unnatural m onster of Prosperos island. Like Caliban, Kapalkundala chooses not to subdue her outlawed self as she feels it to be the closest to her sense of her own identity. 25 The transition from the Miranda-like malleable self to the more untamed Caliban-like side of Kapalkundala is established by the way she wears her hair. One of the things of which the reader is aware, when he/she first sees her through Nabokumars eyes, is of the mass of unruly hair that seems to give her an ethereal auramuch like the idols of the goddess Durga or Kali. The untied/unbraided hair remains symbolic of her wilder self. When that identity is forcefully reined in, as Mrinmoyee, the demu re wife of Nabokumar, Kapalkundala has to submit to the normative, carefully coiffeured hairstyle of a nineteenth century Bengali housewife. As the novelist describes the n ew, domesticated Kapalkundala, he once again draws attention to the arrangement of her hair; Now the mass of her raven-dark hair th at once hung out in heavy serpent-like coils, sweeping down her waist-line, has been gathered up and twisted in a 25 This can be seen as analogous to Frenchs division of the feminine into the inlaw and the outlaw aspects, although it is important to note that here Bankims model for the outlaw is the male Caliban.


51 massive knot that perched high in the b ack of her head. The braiding of locks even was worked up into an elaborate art-work and the fine skilled designs and figures displayed in the pleating spoke highly of Shyamasundaris [Kapalkundalas sister-in-law] fini shed style of hair-dressing. ( Kapalkundala 112) Before she can revert back to her earlie r self, she must unloos en her hair, thus symbolically rejecting the identity of M rinmoyee to revert to the wild, untamed Kapalkundala. Perhaps the most telling passage, in which Kapalkundala appears most like her Calibanic self occurs at the close of the nove l. As she ventures ve ry willingly into the forest to gather certain herbs that must be collected at the dead of night, Kapalkundala throws off the caution and fear that is the mark of a socially conditioned Bengali housewife, and reveals her untamed, transgressive, Calbanic-self; She remembered the surf-touched cool sea-breeze that playfully shook her dishevelled hair on the sand-dunes of the Bahari [the island]. She gazed into the unrelenting blue of the sky and recollection brought back to her mind the cameocut impression of the boundless stretch of the sea resembling the vast deep azure of the sky overhead. With a heart heavy with such reflections did Kapalkundala walk onward. ( Kapalkundala 117)


52 Nabokumar notices this indefinabl e streak in his wife, but he is so enamored with her domesticated Mrinmoyee-self that he can no longer perceive the transgressive Calibanlike Kapalkundala, or the essentia l liminality of her desires. His rigidly defined code of ethics perceives her subversive behavior to be a sign of her unfaith fulness, her lack of marital fidelity. Nabokumar simply lacks th e emotional or inte llectual ability to understand the complexity of the multiple id entities lurking within Kapalkundala. It would be profitable to comp are Kapalkundalas dilemma with that of Jean Rhys Antoinette (in The Wide Sargasso Sea ) just as it to would be worthwhile to compare Nabokumars imperviousness to his wifes lim inality with the harsh British husbands refusal to see the Caribbean side of Anto inette/Berthas character. Seen through the eyes of Nabokumar, and the patriarchally atte nuated society, the wife Kapalkundala is little more than an anomaly, and one that mu st be rectified, even if she has to be physically erased in the process. In ali gning Kapalkundala with Caliban and Miranda, Bankim can be seen as reworking The Tempest with a view to contesting both colonial gender identities imposed by the British, and the patriarchal social structure of nineteenth century Bengal. While Kapalkundala and Caliban are strikingly similar in that the difference that they wish to express so str ongly is contained by the society in which they live, and that that very society situates them in preconceived molds, they are also similar because the construct of the domesticated angel in the house was a British c onstruct of taming and containment. What is achieved at this point (for the colonized reader) is the


53 conflation of the patriarchal and imperi al positions in the figure of the chastising/regulating Nabokumar, and the coalescing of the untamed native as well as the transgressive woman in the form of Kapalkundala. For Prospero and his ilk, Caliban is always the comfortably othered, familiar thing of darkness; a potential threat rendered impotent when framed by we ll-known conventions of othering. Similarly, Nabokumareven at the moment of Kapa lkundalas deathcan acknowledge only her fidelity and his love, and not the va lidity of her alternate identity. Since she has little contro l over the way that her life moves through its different phases, Kapalkundala is perpetua lly at the mercy of male fi gures who in protecting her, are ultimately protecting thei r own self-interesther rebe llion can only be expressed through death. Kapalkundala transcends the human realm in perceiving the Goddess Kali as the only figure whom she can trust and from whom she can demand recognition for her individuality. Thus her decision to sacrifice herself can be seen as not an act of selfdestruction, but as giving primacy to her desi red sense of self at the cost of losing her physical identity. Similarly, another such lim inal figure, Antoinette, nullifies the intersecting forces of imperial and patriarchal control conspiring to contain her and reinscribes her identity, paradoxically through eras ure and death. As this is the one act that Kapalkundala must perform on her own, she does not allow either the Kapalik or Nabokumar to enact their male vengean ce on her body, simultaneously denying the norms of both the father and the husband. The f act that the Kapalik cannot sacrifice her, and Nabokumar cannot prevent her suicide prov ides Kapalkundala th e self-justification


54 that she has been seekin g throughout the novel. Significantly enough, her death also disrupts the patriarchal system that had so far imposed its will on her as it emotionally compels her husband to follow her example. The narrative had begun with Kapalkundala granting a fresh lease of life to Nabokumar (a man virtually condemned to death when his selfish associates on a passe nger boat had left him stranded on a desert island to starve, or die of tiger-mauling, or both). Hencef orth, throughout the narrative she consigns herself to a life in which she is merely satisfying his wish es. It is only at the very end of the narrative that she leads himalthough th is time to his death. Reworking The Tempest a canonical text produced from the imperial center and touted as normative of civilized European culture, paradoxical ly allows Bankim to explore these conflicting and c ontested registers of gender iden tity at a time when these very identity positions were under severe att ack and when the very project of nationalist revival was integrally related to the recoveri ng/reconstructing of a heroic and a culturally distinct identity position. Kapalkundala renders invalid the rigid hierarchy of both social and gendered modes of being that the colonial enterprise sought to implement by employing both Miranda and Caliban in the ironi c reversal of power relationships within colonial Bengal. Shakespeare s play provides Bankim not only with the necessary raw creative material but also with the means to rupture the colonial fa bric assigning a mythic sense of self.


55 Chapter Three: Positions of Power: Reading Disgrace and The Tempest The socio-historical context of Shakespeares The Tempest its fascination with a powerful European man forcibly occupying a contra-European space and his apparent civilizing intent, its etching of a complex and intertwine d master (Prospero)-slave (Caliban) relationship, and its engagement w ith the problematic female figure (Miranda) as a locus of desire has prompted generati ons of readers, espe cially those operating within a postcolonial context, to respond and react to the pl ay. As Meredith Anne Skura remarks in The Case for Colonialism in The Tempest , Europeans were at that time exploiting the real Calibans of the world, and The Tempest was part of the process [] When the English talked about these New World inhabitants, they did not just inno cently apply stereotype or project their own fears: they did so to a particular effect [] The Tempest itself not only displays prejudice but fosters and even enacts colonialism by mystifying or justifying Prosperos power over Caliban [] The Tempest is a political act (223). Seen in this light, Prospero becomes the clas sic example of the colonizer, ruling over the curiously deceptive island a nd the thing of darkness ( The Tempest l 275, 5.1). Calibans attempts to win back his island remain unsuccessful because, from the


56 imperialist perspective, his primitive challenge can never equal Prosperos Enlightenment rationality. If The Tempest is concerned with themes of subjugation/resistance, and the interdependence of colonizer/col onized, then J.M. Coetzees Disgrace reworks some of these primary motifs. The novel engages with the deeply problematic and unstable power locations in contemporary South Africa, and e nunciates its complex and embittered racial reality. Coetzees historical situatedness as a white man living in post-apartheid South Africa makes such negotiations with race a nd power relationsin both the public and the private sphereinevitable. This appears to be an abiding theme in Coetzees narratives as he explores the complex familial and col onial bonds that function along the axes of subjugation and resistance. In Disgrace, as in Foe and In the Heart of the Country he demonstrates how each of these positions that of the father or the daughter, the master or the slave, the colonizer or the colonize dis implicated in the other in an Hegelian life-and-death struggle. 26 Disgrace problematizes the relationship between the colonizer and the colonized by portraying positions of power in a state of flux. Coetzees novel narrates the story of 26 In Phenomenology of Spirit Hegel traces the path that self-conscio usness follows through desire, a life or death struggle, to finally the master-servant relationship. A very cursorywith the acknowledged risk of being simplisticreading reveals self-consciousnesss desire to impose itself too strongly on other selfconsciousnesses that it perceives, in order to show its elf as being more than a mere animal consciousness. Hegel posits this desire as one for recognition and theo rizes a dramatic struggle to death that takes place between these two entities. He argues th at the willingness to give up ones life is the most effective means of claiming a unique selfhood when confronted with an other which also possesses self-consciousness (114).


57 David Lurie as he is forced to leave his teachi ng post following a brief, but intense, affair with one of his students. The protagonist then takes refuge on his daughters farm in rural South Africa, and has to come to term s with his sense of dislocation and disempowerment. Lurie is a strange and fractur ed Prospero figure, lacking any effective forms of power. Even before his disgraceful exit from the university, he is aware of not having any real authority in what he calls an emasculated institute of learning ( Disgrace, 4). Coetzee describes Lurie as, [o]nce a professor of modern languages, he has been, since Classics and Modern Languages were closed down as part of the great rationalization, adjunct professor of communications. Like all rationalized personnel, he is allowed to offer one special-field course a year, irrespective of enrolment, because that is good for morale [] For the rest he teach es Communications 101, Communication Skills, and Communications 201, Adva nced Communication Skills. (3) It is almost as though the author picks up the character of Pr ospero from where Shakespeare had left himan old man without his magicand builds him into David Lurie. However, unlike Prospero, his willingne ss to abjure his powers is really a sham. Lurie chooses to move away from the institute that had been his s ource of authority but his departure is nothing like the grand exit of Shakespeares Prospero. In Coetzees version he slinks away from the public eye to contemplate, and ultimately to humble himself before, his disgracecaused both by hi s socially condemned relationship with his underage student Melanie, and by his inabil ity to protect his daughter Lucy from the


58 physical assault on her isolated farm. One is reminded of Prosperos epilogue calling for the audiences approval and good wishes to co mplete the magical play; only this time Luries audience refuses to gran t him an honorable release. Disgrace, unlike most works of postcolonial re-visioning, recovers Prosperos voice and not Calibans, as Coetzee begins hi s story after Caliban has insidiously, but effectively, taken over his island. The author charts Prospero/Luries journey from a complete loss of power to a partial recons truction of his self not merely through his interactions with other charac ters, but also via his creative instincts. Luries academic ambitions urge him to compose a grand opus on Byron, one of the British poets writing during the Romantic era, but like his relationships with women, this too gradually devolves into a disjointed seri es of fruitless lamentations. As he goes through his period of disgrace, Lurie realizes that he must id entify not with the voi ce of the Don Juan-like socially attractive poet, but with Byrons mi stress, Teresa, who is well past her prime, and the poets wraith-like daughter. Like Te resa, who evolves from being a muse to giving voice to Byrons faint whispers, the relationship between th e ruler and the ruled, too, has turned a full cycle and it is the white man who must now fight for his right to be heard. In Coetzees narrative the traditiona lly subjugated figure of Caliban finds expression not in the character of a single man but as the entire black community. The acts of violence committed by the various Calibansthe rape of Lucy in particularare represented as a continuous and integrated deed that defines them as a people.


59 Lurie/Prospero and his kind suffer from a vulne rable individuality that hinders fruitful interaction with each other, thereby renderi ng them ineffective against the Calibanss communal aggression. Prosperos solitudethe source of his magus-like powers as it allows him to accumulate knowledgebecomes untenable in Luries South Africa. Coetzees protagonist fails to communicate even with his daughter, thus alienating himself from the primal bonds of kinship. Tellingly, Coetzee portray s his protagonist as struggling to give voice to Byron and his long-forgotten mistress Teresa in a fictive world dominated by individuals who can only give the impression of communicating. Petrusone of the several Caliban-like fi gures in the novelevolves from being Lucys dog-man and general handyman to her neighbor and ultimately her protector on the farm. He plays out the act of reclaiming hist ory as he slowly rise s to the position from which he can dictate terms and offer to take in the white woman under his protection. He negates the apparent need displayed by Shak espeares Caliban to destroy Prosperos books to be on par with the magician. Instead, Petrus confidently disp lays his wealth and family, and expresses no compulsion to compet e with Lurie on intellectual/cultural terms. Lurie, however, interprets th is expression of independence as symbolic of Petruss savagery, and as further proof that he and his brutish kind cannot be trusted around European women. Luries own actionshis semi-consensual relationship with Melanieundercut such a judgment and the r eader is continually reminded of Luries own rather tenuous claim of su ccumbing to lust in the name of Eros. It is the boy Pollux who rapes Lucy, but Luri e conflates the iden tities of Petrus and Pollux, and his


60 convictions are strengthened when Petrus insists on protecting Pollux. For Petrus the question of seeing the boy as guilty does not even arise because as he tells Lurie, You have no work here. You come to l ook after your child. I also look after my child [] Yes. He is a child. He is my fa mily, my people. So that is it. No more lies. My people As naked an answer as he could wish ( Disgrace, 201). While Shakespeares Caliban can only make a futile attempt at colonizing the body of Miranda, the Calibanan amalgamation of the entire black communityof Disgrace is able to not only mark Lucy, but also claim her through her unborn child. Significantly, the relationship between Petrus and Lurie also marks a breakdown of the colonizers language. Petrus does not ove rtly reject Luries tongue, but he adapts it to suit his communicational needs, while Lurie realizes that the English he is familiar with is no longer capable of telling the storie s of either communities. Perhaps one way to look at the situation would be to use what Chantal Zabus, in her eponymous article, terms relexification. In her descrip tion of the word, she explains: [t]he emphasis is here on the lexis in th e original sense of speech, word or phrase and on lexicon in reference to the vocabulary and morphemes of a language and, by extension, to word formation [] [T]h is concept can be expanded to refer to semantics and syntax, as well. I shall t hus here [define] relexification as the making of a new register of communication out of an alien lexicon. The adjectives new and alien are particularly relevant in a post-colonial context in which the


61 European language remains alien or irredu cibly other [] and a new language is being forged as a result of the artists imaginative use of th at situation (315). The problem of language is inherently presen t in any postcolonial situation because its unique connection with socio-cu ltural reality makes it the idea l site for the subversion of authority. For the erstwhile colonized it is the language of the mastershence defined by the very act of colonizationand for the white man, too, it is a tired language, burdened with heavy syllables that can no longer ade quately represent changing times. Throughout the novel Coetzee repeatedly draws attention to the inadequacy of the English language and looks for an alternative means of ar ticulation. He expresses his doubts about the suitability of English through Lu rie, as the latter ponders how [h]e would not mind hearing Petruss stor y one day. But preferably not reduced to English. More and more he is convinced th at English is an unfit medium for the truth of South Africa. Stretches of En glish code whole sentences long have thickened, lost their articulations, their articulateness, their articulatedness. Like a dinosaur expiring and settling in th e mud, the language has stiffened. ( Disgrace, 117) The only tentative solution that Luriea schol ar of languagescan offer is to start from the basics again. However, his proposition, that one should st art with the alphabets and the small words and then work ones way back to the larger words in order to allow those words to regain some of their original purity seems problematic and a fracturing of Prosperos confident assumptions regarding words.


62 Coetzee mimics the confusion over language in his refusal to draw easy parallels between The Tempest and the relationships between Lurie, Lucy and Petrus. In the context of the novel, Lucy is Mirandas count erpart, but she is significantly different from the Shakespearean character because Lucy openly rejects Lurie/Pr osperos offers of guidance. However difficult it might bea nd she acknowledges the dangers of her decisionshe seeks to lead he r life on her own terms, even though those very terms are compromised by virtue of her position as a single white woman living in rural South Africa. Lurie insists that as her father, it is up to him to steer he r through her life, but remains aware of the possibility of his being led by her. Fr om Lucys perspective, her relationship with her father cannot be that of a teacher-s tudent and she tells him, You do not see this, and I do not know what more I can do to make you see [] I think of you as one of the three chimpan zees, the one with his paws over his eyes [] I cannot be a child for ever. You cannot be a father for ever. I know you mean well, but you are not the guid e I need, not at this time. ( Disgrace, 161) Here Lucy sharply contrasts with the Mi randa whoinitiallyobeys her father and hesitates to look for a source of knowledge be yond him. Even more interestingly, Lucy accepts Petrus/Caliban in a bid to undo the wrongs of the past. She understands that to survive on her land she needs the help of the community whose land it was originally. While Lurie almost mocks her decision to stay on even after the rape, she can only justify herself from a very different perspective


63 But isnt there another way of looking at it David? What ifwhat if that [the raping] is the price one has to pay for staying on? Perhaps that is how they look at it; perhaps that is how I should look at it too. They see me as owing something. They see themselves as debt collectors, tax collectors. Why should I be allowed to live here without paying? Perhaps that is what they tell themselves. ( Disgrace 158) She is still unable to transce nd the us/them binary but nonetheless she is willing to accept their viewpoint as having some legitimacy. Her actions might be a move toward, quite literally, paying for the sins of her forefath ers, but Coetzee offers no further elaboration in that direction. Lucy unde rstands that her individual existence depends upon forming those very communal alliances that now empower the novels many Calibans, and in this she rejects the alienating solitude that her father emphatically embraces. Her acceptance of Petruss offer of protec tion clearly marks the shift in powerthe white male figure must now give way to the erstwhile slave and accept his own marginalized minority status. Like Lucy, the other female characters in the novel also aid in destabilizing any easy identification between Lurie and Prospero. With Soraya, the pros titute, Lurie strives to play the role of the dominating partner. At a very superficial level, he seeks to physically re-make her when he asks her to wi pe off the make-up that offends him. On a far more fundamental level, he repeats his desire for supremacy by imagining her and her life outside the room in Windsor Mansions:


64 Soraya is not her real name, that he is su re of. There are signs that she has borne a child, or children. It may be that she is not a professional at all. She may work for the agency only one or two times a week, a nd for the rest live a respectable life in the suburbs, in Rylands or Althone. That would be unusual for a Muslim, but all things are possible these days. ( Disgrace, 3) When he tries to track her down she rejects hi m, leaving him with no option other than to look for other sexual partners. His student Melanie, momentarily succumbs to his pressures, allowing him to imagine himself as an agent of the god of passion, Eros, but, paradoxically, it is the same Melanie who forces him to realize that he is no more than a repulsive old man ( Disgrace, 169). Ultimately with Lucys friend Bev, Lurie is forced to admit that his Prospero-like powers can no longer exist even in the realm of his imagination. Unable to deny the loss of hi s youth and masculine charm, he turns to fictional Teresathe girl Byron loved and th en neglectedbut she too is broken and the best she can offer Lurie are her songs of despair and the silly plink-plonk of the toy banjo ( Disgrace, 184). This act of authorial re-visioning extends to the genre that encompasses both The Tempest as well as Disgracethe festive comedy as envisioned by Shakespeare. 27 Stated 27 C.L. Barbers Shakespeares Festive Comedy: A Study of Dramatic Form and its Relation to Social Custom elaborates on structure of Shakespeares festiv e comedies and traces th e forms roots in early modern holiday customs. Barber asserts that most of these holiday rituals reversed the order of everyday life, and were understood to be a temporary license, a misrule which implied rule (10). He then goes on to suggest that Shakespeares festiv e comedies follow this pattern of reversal and that the green world represents holiday humor. For Barber, translating the festive experience into drama allowed Shakespeare to


65 in rather simplistic terms, the festive co medy dramatizes a tem porary retreat to the countrythe green worldin order to escape the corrupt influences of the city. The country provides a site for moral regenerati on, following which the characters return to their homes in the city, refreshed and ready to take on the problems of real life. The holiday humor of this mode automatical ly creates a city/country divide and Shakespeares playat least s uperficiallyseems to conform to the generic demands of the festive comedy. Interestingly, however, Sh akespeare stretches th e boundaries of the genre by questioning this city/country binary. Caliban/Prosperos island is described as enchanted because, to different people, it takes on different forms. Hence while the old courtier Gonzalo sees it as lush green and as conducive to life, to Antonio, Prosperos usurping brother, and Sebastian, the brother of the king of Na ples, the island is seen as though Sebastian: it had lungs, and rotten ones. Antonio: Or as twere perfumed by a fen [] Gonzalo: Here is everything advantageous to life. Antonio: True, save means to live. Sebastian: present holiday magic as imagination, games as expressive gestures [to bring in to focus] the saturnalian form itself as a paradoxical human need, problem and resource (15).


66 Of that theres none or little. ( The Tempest 2.1, 48-52) The action of the playespecially through Pr osperos control over Caliban and Ariel shows that the island itself is as corrupt as the city. The effects of moral regeneration are not extended to Caliban or even to the dr unk Stephano and Trinculo. Prosperos triumph seems to be more of a political achievement and this fact only further complicates discourses of pure country versus corrupt city. In Coetzees case the problematization of genre is markedly more deliberate and he goes so far as to almost completely reverse the traditional positions occupied by the city and the country. There is no easily identi fiable demarcation between the two zones as each seems to constantly intersect and implicat e the other. The city is represented as a place that demands repentance for the crime that Lurie commits; it is no longer content to leave that task of reformation to the c ountry. When Lurie first leaves the city and reaches his daughters home in the country, he feels as though the latter is untouched by the problems of urban life. Lucy appears befo re him as having perfectly fitted into the role of the settler, living happily with he r dogs, her flower and pr oduce patches, and her handyman Petrus. He urges himself to get used to the simple life of the country, and the city begins to look remote and distinctC ountry ways. Already Cape Town is receding into the past ( Disgrace, 65). This pastoral idyll however, is first disrupted when Lucy and her father are attacked and she is raped. All at once, the citys corruption seems to invade the country,


67 and the latter loses its innocence and simplicit y. Lurie is slowly forced to realize that the differences are not as strong as his scholarly mind had initially assumed them to be. The brutality of the attack and its bewildering conseque nces suddenly transform the country into a space as treacherous and unstabl e as the city. Adding to its danger is the violence involved in the acts of aggression a nd the undisguised hatred of the rapists that Lucy feels is directed towards her. The count ry, particularly the farm, becomes the site for a postcolonial re-writing of history, and one in which the protagonists are conscious of a violent re-telling of the past. Coetzee us es the traditionally idyllic countryside to examine the process by which the violence that had been concealed by colonialism is let loose upon those perceived as belonging to the now-defeated ruling class. There is, however, one place that occupies the liminal zone between the city and the countrythe animal welfare clinic. In Disgrace, here, the fateful abundance of the country meets the cruel, but efficient methods of the city. Although the clinic claims to be a place of healing, Lurie soon real izes that it is no more than a last option for the animals as well as their owners. Signifi cantly, it is in this in-between zone that he finds some form of meaning in an othe rwise upside-down world. The dogs that come in have to be killedbecause we are too menny and then Lurie assumes the responsibility of disposing off their corpses. The plentitude of lifeone of the defining features of the countryside, and traditionally the most celebratedbecomes the cause for inconvenience. As Bev puts it,


68 [t]he trouble is, there are just too many of them [] They dont understand it, of course, and we have no way of telling them. Too many by our standards, not by theirs. They would just mu ltiply and multiply if they had their way, until they filled the earth. (Disgrace 85) The us/them binary operates even here, although it only serves to stress this little clinic occupies neither. The apparent rigidity of the city/country binary breaks down in the space of the animal clinic which becomes, rather, a zone of in-betweenness. To say that Lurie remains in the Easter n Cape to help the dogs have an easy journey into the afterlife woul d perhaps involve a considerable degree of simplification. However his act of remaining in the country does partially resolve the binary. With his curious little toy banjo and the doomed dogs, Lu rie can no longer belong wholly to either the country or the city, and must remain in the one place that perhaps best unites the plentitude of the country with the harsh efficiency of the city. The novels context of production provides an interesting clue to reading its obsession with retribution and a re-distribution of guilt, and to critically examining the idea of reparation. Disgrace follows shortly after the much discussed report presented by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and one can percei ve a dialogue that Coetzee establishes with the ideas driv ing the project. The Commission itself was constituted in 1995 under the Promotion of Na tional Unity and Rec onciliation Act, no. 34, to allow South Africa a smooth transition in to democracy. Its purpose was to provide a platform where victims of apartheid coul d give voice to the crimes that had been


69 committed against them, and the perpetrators could claim general amnesty. The preamble to the Interim Constitution of South Africa created the foundation for such a commission; This Constitution provides a historic bridge between the past of a deeply divided society problematized by strife, conflic t, untold suffering and injustice, and a future founded on the recognition of human rights, democracy [] The pursuit of national unity, the well-being of all Sout h African citizens and peace require reconciliation between the people of South Africa a nd the reconstruction of society. (as qtd in Between Anger and Hope xiii) The very scope of the TRC, however, raised certain difficult questions that revealed the problematic of basing democracy on the grounds of voluntary reconciliation. One of the central motifs that dominated the entire pro ceedings was the move to grant amnesty to those human rights violators who provided a complete confession of their crimes. Coetzees novel focuses on the idea of a total confession, the motives that prompt such declarations, and the assume d spirit of repentance. In a move that mimics the proceedings of the TRC, Lurie is called upon by the sexual harassment committee to confess and repent for his near-rape of Melanie Isaacs. In return, he is promised a compromise, one that will allow him to continue with his life in the university. Lurie agrees to plead guilty to the charges of harassment brought against him but he raises a significant point that undermines his confessionif it may indeed be called a confession insofar as the term still reta ins its religious connotations even within a secular establishment;


70 You want a confession, I give you a confession [] And you trust yourself to divine that, from the words I useto divi ne whether it comes from my heart? [] I have said the words for you, no you want more, you want me to demonstrate their sincerity. That is preposterous. That is beyond the scope of law. I have had enough. Let us go back to playing it by the book. I plead guilty. That is as far as I am prepared to go. ( Disgrace, 52-55) Later in the novel Lurie comple tes the cyclical call for peni tence as he faces the second mock court in the shape of the Isaacs fam ily. His presence in their house signals his desire to proffer the spirit of repentance that had been missing in his plea of guilt, but even here he cannot rid himself of the ambivalence that assails him at the moment when he presents the most vulnerable of selves. As he leaves, Lurie chooses to fall upon his knees in the traditional gesture of obeisanceand more significantly of surrender hoping to atone for his mistakes. The obser vation that follows succeeds in undermining not only the honesty of his contrition, but the very practice of repentance Is that enough? He thinks. Will that do? If not, what more? He raises his head [] He meets the moth ers eyes, then the daughters, and again the current leaps, the current of desire. ( Disgrace 173) Coetzee explores the avenues of contriti on and its connections with disgrace, explicitly rejecting the simplis tic notion that an honest conf ession necessarily entails the spirit of repentance. Through Luries rather skillful wordplay, he reveals any social structures desire to extract remorse from the offenders declaration of guilt, thus


71 problematizing both the concept of forgiv eness and the subse quent process of reconciliation. It is Lu ries refusal to repentand not th e crime of which he is accused that finally places him outside established norms. Ultimately, even contrition is not enough for the social victim whose civiliz ed mantle has taught him to mask his vengeance with the proffered repentance. He will be satisfied only when the guilty is humiliated and reduced to a state of utter dependency, thus reversing the balance of power. Coetzee presents the gang of rapists as disagreeing with the proclamations of the TRC particularly on the account of reconci liation. To correct the wrongs of history, Petrus and his people must subjugate thei r erstwhile masters, inflicting on them a physical humiliation and branding them with shame and a fear of that shame. Lurie surmises, The men [the rapists] will watch the newspapers, listen to the gossip. They will read that they are being sought for robbe ry and assault and nothing else. It will dawn on them that over the body of the woman silence is being drawn like a blanket. Too ashamed they will say to each other, too ashamed to tell, and they will chuckle luxuriously, recollecting their exploit. Is Lucy prepared to concede them that victory? ( Disgrace, 110) He is only too aware that the shame is not Lu cys alone, that he too is part of this disgrace. The TRC that fails to reconcile is not the dominant force in the South Africa that Coetzee perceives; it is the world in which victims are not satisfied with the


72 offenders confession. They wish to reverse the cycle of history and take possession of the very beings of their former masters. Disgrace is in many ways a rewriting of The Tempest because it deals with some of the crucial themes present in the play. However, it is not limited to a reworking because the novel uses as its backdrop the hi storical reality of a post-colonial country where binaries are seldom to be found in their unadulterated state and where the protagonists have to constantly li ve through a re-visioning of history.


73 Conclusion An examination of works from such vas tly different historical time periods and ideological concerns can provide only a glim pse into the act of reconstituting western texts to critique hegemonic structures of power. In their own way, both Bankim and Coetzee challenge the notion that there can be a simple, definitive interpretation of any text, often calling into question the status of interpretation itself. The theoretical concerns that have so far shaped the notion of postcol oniality substantiate the appropriation that takes place on the part of the author, the reader and the critic creating a space of interaction that can best be defined by a lack of rigidity or monologic comprehension. To even say that postcolonial texts allow the margin to speak for itself, merely overriding the imposition of the center, would be to fall in to the same trap as saying its converse. Rather, the picture that emerges is a far more fluid, playful one, imbued with a sense of critical questioning and a refusal to accept absolute standards of evaluation. Kapalkundala may seem to be superficially distanced from Shakespeares The Tempest owing to the repeated displacement of th e source of authoritative control, but it situates itself firmly within the tradition of rewriting when it insistently calls into question the patterns of subjugation and re sistance. Bankims preoccupation with the comparative mode of study enhances the c onnections that might otherwise be buried


74 under spatial, temporal and linguistic differe nces. The work emerges as re-telling the history of a group of people whose oppressed state extends far beyond social and political control. The authors close alliance with the alien system of governance problematizes any easy rejection, but nevertheless allows the reader to perceive th e complex elements of loyalty that must be overcome in order to resist. In many ways, Bankim himself reenacts Calibans role as he borrows Prosperos books only to later deconstr uct their stability. His language of thought is one condi tioned by Prosperos presen ce although he is never too far removed from those barbaric ideologies so detested by the colonizer. This uneasy binary is reflected in Kapalkundala as both the author and the pr otagonist strive to free themselves from the imposed systems of control which they have paradoxically embraced. Coetzees negotiation represents the dise mpowered story of a Prospero who has fallen from grace, and is deprived of the r ough magic that has served him so well over the centuries. The process of readjustment calls into question the n ecessity of adjusting, simultaneously compelling the Prospero figure to acknowledge his own liminality. The reader is once again reminded of Luries By ronic operathe grand plans that must be slowly whittled down to fit a le ss glorious state of existence. As Lurie consigns himself to being the dog-mannot so subtly remarking on Petruss original occupationso must Prospero face the prospect of living w ithout his hyperbolic sense of control. Disgrace places before the reader a world in which th e struggle for power must be left to the latecomers of history as older orders fail to accommodate the shifting nature of authorial


75 control. Ironically, Prosperos disempowerment does not necessarily translate into an empowered Caliban. Like Macbeth, Caliban has waded too far in blood to attempt a reconciliation or a reje ction of the violence that has so steadily been drummed into him. Caliban and Prospero must share an uneasy truce, one that merely destabilizes the power structure without providing a viable alternative. Whether the emphasis is on a re-visioning of the nature of Ca liban and Mirandas resistances, or on a recovery of Prosperos disenfranchised voice, Coetzee and Bankim are united in their search for a common gr ound from which to challenge the imposed narratives of colonialism. Their exploration of the patterns of subjugation and resistance never seeks to disown the Shakespearean para digm within which they operate. Indeed, Shakespeare is himselfa self that is significantly imagined by the colonial ruler evoked and re-formulated, along with the ch aracters penned by him, in the newer versions of the play. He provides the authoria l legitimacy that the postcolonial text must appropriate in order to attrac t the attention of the erstwhile ruling class. The work that emerges out of this creative interplay of history, language and power thus embodies no single ideological position, but is rather a re flection of the inter-rel atedness of modes of existence.


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