Colonisation in "Utopia" and "The Tempest" Book Review by lydia01

Colonisation in "Utopia" and "The Tempest"
An analysis of the significance of colonisation in Thomas More's "Utopia" and William Shakespeare's "Tempest".
# 118895 | 1,936 words | 14 sources | MLA | 2007 | GB
Published on Mar 14, 2010 in Literature (English) , English (Comparison) , Shakespeare (The Tempest)

$19.95 Buy and instantly download this paper now


In the Renaissance context, the British colonisation of America was triggered by Christopher Columbus' first voyage to the Bahamas and Cuba in 1492. This paper discusses how the possibilities and dangers of this newly discovered world were profound issues at the time More and Shakespeare were writing and how their work is shot through with a contrast of fear and fantasy for the 'other'. The paper also examines how colonisation is also inextricably linked to humanist culture in that both believed in the possibility of social reformation. By suggesting that it is possible to create a perfect commonwealth, the paper discusses how "Utopia" appears to portray colonisation as a good thing, whereas in "The Tempest", Caliban epitomises its problems.

From the Paper:

"By idealising a commonwealth, Utopia glorifies colonisation, and reflects the optimism that saturated the beginnings of the British Empire for example. Howard Felperin notes that this same optimistic energy is shown by Gonzalo in The Tempest, as he describes his perfect commonwealth halfway through act II scene I; "I would with such perfection govern, Sir, T' excel the Golden Age" (II:I:149) . In reality the enthusiasm behind colonialism was driven mainly by the promise of money - the piles of gold and silver to be generated by opportunities for new trade. But any sort of financial incentive is absent from Utopia. This makes us as suspicious of Utopus as we are of Hythloday; what are his motives for taking over the island? If Hythloday is the utopian explorer, Utopus is the utopian conqueror. In book 2 we learn that Utopus easily conquers the country, changes its name and "brought the rude and wild people to that excellent perfection in all good fashions, humanity, and civil gentleness" (p.56). He also alters its geography. Utopia's shift from a mainland country to an island is a near impossible and therefore doubtful feat, which implies so is the radical transformation of its people. "

Sample of Sources Used:

  • William Baldwin, Beware the Cat (San Marino, Huntington Library, 1988).
  • Sir Thomas More, Utopia (London, J. M. Dent, 1910).
  • William Shakespeare, The Tempest (London, J. M. Dent, 1994).
  • Catherine M. S. Alexander and Stanley Wells, eds., Shakespeare and Race (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2000).
  • David Bevington, How to Read a Shakespeare Play (Oxford, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2006).

Cite this Book Review:

APA Format

Colonisation in "Utopia" and "The Tempest" (2010, March 14) Retrieved February 06, 2023, from

MLA Format

"Colonisation in "Utopia" and "The Tempest"" 14 March 2010. Web. 06 February. 2023. <>