Critical Summary and Interpretation:- The poetic play 'Dream on Monkey Mountain' by Derek Walcott, a well-known West Indian playwright and poet, explores the effects of colonialism in the West Indies. It is a work of both English literary traditions and Caribbean experiences and language. Walcott uses highly poetic language and metaphors in this play. Specifically, he uses the metaphor of the white Devil to explore characters shifts in identity and the eventual reclamation of their black identity. The classical structure of the play is a continuation of an English literary tradition, unlike other plays from similar regions. It follows a less linear narrative and is quite ambiguous. The language in this play is extremely lyrical and dream-like.
The play begins with a continuous startling and unsettling noise that increases in volume. Then , a woman comes wrapped from head to toe-in white, against a curtain of fire and a swollen, talismanic moon. A Man with a top hat and a skull appears. This is the mysterious surrealistic dream around which the whole action of the play centers. Makak, an old hermit and Black charcoal maker, has lived alone on Monkey Mountain his whole life. The dream he dreams one night forces him off the mountain and on a journey toward Africa. How Makak will get from a small Caribbean island to Africa does not seem to trouble him in the least. With his only friend, Moustique, unwillingly accompanying him, Makak becomes a sort of faith healer. When Moustique is killed in a marketplace riot, Makak is jailed and once he manages to escape with two other convicts he only wants to go home to Monkey Mountain. The play represents Makak's search for home, but it is also about native man being oppressed by colonial rule and the clash of English and West Indian culture.In this play, there is the connection drawn between white women and the Devil. In Scene One Act One, Moustique asks Makak if his apparition is simply a white woman or a Devil. The Woman is described as white Goddes as a fantasy. However, She tells Makak that he is descended from kings, according to Makak, even though it is still uncertain whether or not Makak is mentally unstable or simply dreaming. When death, demons, spirits, etc. come on stage after Moustique dies, the woman is described as cleft-footed and having a face at the end of Act One. A man with a goat's head appears in this scene, and the white woman also wears a mask. In Act Two, Scene Two , Makak asks Tigre what he sees in the fire. Tigre responds,I see hell. I see people black like coals, twisting and burning in hell. And I see me too.� In dream, a black spider gives birth to white eggs, and Moustique is afraid of spiders. The spider and its birthing can be seen as a metaphor for colonialism and the loss of black identity throughout each subsequent generation. Masks are prominent metaphors as they are used by white characters to hide their true selves. In the Epilogue , Makak reclaims his black identity, as the Corporal asks if Makak wants a mask, and Makak refuses and shakes his head., but he still makes them work hard, and without breaks. In this sense, the Devil is an explicit metaphor for white plantation owners, a sad part of the colonial history in the West Indies. Even though the Devil has revealed his true identity it explores the reclamation of black identity through various actions. At the end of Act Two Scene Three, the Corporal demands that Makak kill the woman, calling her the wife of the Devil.� Makak beheads the woman, and in doing so, he reclaims his black identity. Even though she has previously told Makak that he is descended from royalty, it is necessary for him to kill her, as she was previously revealed to be another white demon. Throughout the play, black characters fight with white oppressors. Throughout the course of these actions, the black characters defeat the white/Devil characters, and in doing so, the black characters are able to reclaim their identities from white colonialist oppressors. Thus, in a way, it is a political allegory.