The New World Savage as Stranger

Leslie Fiedler, “The New World Savage as Stranger,” in The Stranger in Shakespeare, 199253


If Othello disconcerts by suggesting at its very end a mythological equivalence of Indian and Jew, The Tempest even more disconcertingly begins proposing a similar equivalence of Indian and Africa. Throughout the play, in fact, Shakespeare exploits the archetypal ambiguity of the New World and ancient Carthage as alternative versions of a polar strangeness, which Europe has kept redefining for nearly two millennia in order to know itself. Twice over we are told that the voyage whose second and unintended landfall was a “brave new world” has made its first, quite intentionally, in the city where Aeneas had, at a god’s behest, abandoned the “Widow Dido.”

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