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Une Tempête ("A tempest") is a 1969 play by Aimé Césaire. It is an adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest from a postcolonial perspective. The play was first performed at the Festival d'Hammamet in Tunisia under the direction of Jean-Marie Serreau. It later played in Avignon and Paris. Césaire uses all of the characters from Shakespeare's version, but he specifies that Prospero is a white master, while Ariel is a mulatto and Caliban is a black slave.[1] These characters are the focus of the play as Césaire foregrounds issues of race, power, and decolonization.


The action in the play closely follows that of Shakespeare's play, though Césaire emphasizes the importance of the people who inhabited the island before the arrival of Prospero and his daughter Miranda: Caliban and Ariel. Both have been enslaved by Prospero, though Caliban was the ruler of the island before Prospero's arrival.

Caliban and Ariel react differently to their situation. Caliban favors revolution over Ariel's non-violence, and rejects his name as the imposition of Prospero's colonizing language, desiring to be called X.[2][3] He complains stridently about his enslavement and regrets not being powerful enough to challenge the reign of Prospero. Ariel, meanwhile, contents himself with asking Prospero to consider giving him independence.

At the end of the play, Prospero grants Ariel his freedom, but retains control of the island and of Caliban. This is a notable departure from Shakespeare's version, in which Prospero leaves the island with his daughter and the men who were shipwrecked there at the beginning of the play.


  • Césaire, Aimé (1969). Une tempête [A Tempest]. Collection Théâtre, 22 (in French). Paris, France: Éditions du Seuil. ISBN 9782020314312. OCLC 9435845.


  1. ^ Porter, Laurence M. (1995). "Aimé Césaire's Reworking of Shakespeare: Anticolonialist Discourse in "Une Tempête"". Comparative Literature Studies. 32 (3): 360–381.
  2. ^ Ritz, Brooke (Spring 1999). "Cesaire". Department of English. Atlanta, GA, USA: Emory University. Retrieved September 20, 2012.
  3. ^ McNary, Brenda (2010). "He Proclaims Uhuru — Understanding Caliban as a Speaking Subject". CTSJ: Journal of Undergraduate Research. Los Angeles, CA: Occidental College. 1 (1). ISSN 1948-5832. OCLC 455328764. Retrieved September 20, 2012.

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