Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Ronald Shafer, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Lingyan Yang, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Christopher Kuipers, Ph.D.


Many postcolonial studies have dealt with the destructive impact of colonialism on the Other / the colonized with comparatively less attention paid to the mentality and motives behind colonialism. In addition to showing the colonial discursive practices, this dissertation will focus mainly on the basic motives and instigators, in Shakespeare's selected plays, that are used to oppress and dominate the colonized. This study explores Shakespeare's reactions to and treatment of colonialism in light of the 16th century fledgling English colonialism that was initiated partially to compete with other European colonial powers as well as assert and protect the growing English nationalism during the Renaissance. Shakespeare demythologizes the hegemonic attitude of the colonizer towards the Other. Towards this end, this dissertation employs postcolonial theory to read selected Shakespeare's plays including, but not limited to, The Merchant of Venice, Antony and Cleopatra, The Tempest, and Troilus and Cressida. Feminist literary theory will inform the study of Shakespeare's treatment of the woman Other who is doubly oppressed by her gender profiling and by her being part of the racial Other in the English Renaissance. By tracing the aforementioned plays of Shakespeare and others of his dramatic oeuvre, I will point out modern postcolonial attitudes of the Bard in that early stage of postcolonial writings. This dissertation will show that Shakespeare attacks the Greco-Roman model of domination that was summoned during the Renaissance revival of the Greco-Roman antiquity. This project will also show the many facets of Shakespeare's counter hegemonic and anti-colonial stratagem which he uses to disclose the colonial practices that are used to oppress and colonize nations across the globe. Shakespeare demystifies the colonial enterprise through exposing the hypocritical intentions and claims behind colonialism such as civilizing and educating the colonized people who were considered inferior to colonialists. This dissertation will tackle the Bard's iconoclasm from four angles: economic, civil, cultural, and militaristic. Shakespeare seems to understand the cultural and religious atmosphere that was not yet a fertile ground to tackle racial and religious sensitivities; therefore, he subtly counters the hegemonic practices of colonialism, including his own nation's colonialism.