Date of Award


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

English, PhD


School of Arts and Humanities

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

David Luis-Brown

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Lori Anne Ferrell

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Myriam J.A. Chancy

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2020 Teah Goldberg


Adaptation, Female, Miranda, Postcolonial, Sycorax, The Tempest

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature


My dissertation is entitled: “The Island has two sides: Female Subjectivity in Postcolonial Adaptation.” In it I will argue that many postcolonial narratives either consciously or unconsciously adapt Shakespeare’s The Tempest in an effort to resurrect repressed female narratives of resistance. Through an examination of Elizabeth Nunez’s Prospero’s Daughter (2006), J.M. Coetzee’s Foe (1986), Maryse Condé’s I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem (1988), and Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea (1966), this dissertation will contribute to the fields of feminist and postcolonial studies by arguing that the kinds of female critical voices that we find embedded within these postcolonial texts, either through fictional characters or through an author’s narration, call for us to reassess our understanding of the female characters, both present and absent, in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. I will begin by establishing Sycorax, Miranda, and Claribel from The Tempest as prismatic figures. When I use the terms prismatic and prismatism, I am referring to women’s ability to transform or reflect the singular, limited gender role/identity imposed upon her into a vast female spectrum, one which is both varied and unified. In my estimation, thinking of these characters as prismatic allows us to imagine the 20th century postcolonial novels above as providing a feminist lens that can teach us how to read arguably some of the most understudied and misunderstood female characters in early modern literature. Thus, this study asks for us to reassess the kinds of complex and problematic female characters represented by Miranda, Sycorax, and Claribel, not only in the early modern period, but in the present day. Further, I argue that these seemingly disparate characters and tropes should be read in terms of their gendered similarities rather than judged on the basis of their perceived differences. I suggest that we may interpret their re-emergence in different forms in postcolonial novels of the 20th century as having recovered the repressed female narratives of these renaissance era women. In the end, by showing the ways in which Rhys, Condé, Coetzee, and Nunez have adapted some of Shakespeare’s early modern women for a modern audience, I argue that these figures revive and illuminate the complicated position of early modern female characters to postcolonial feminist rebellion.