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The present paper is an attempt to provide an explanation for this phenomenon by foregrounding the ‘mutual cognitive environment’which Shakespeare so skillfully and dexterously creates in his masterpiece The Tempest, and contends that this feature accounts for the sustained popularity, present day relevance and appeal of the play. This claim will be elucidated and established through an analysis of the drama within the framework of the concept of ‘mutual cognitive environment’(or shared background knowledge) as explicated by Sperber and Wilson in their discussion of Relevance Theory (Sperber and Wilson, 1995: 39). Further, the paper maintains that for the present day reader of The Tempest this environment is created due to the interaction of contextual assumptions which include knowledge of marginalised groups of people, of colonialism and racism, and of women as ‘constructed’in a patriarchal society. The analysis is motivated by the assumption that Shakespeare’s depiction of characters such as Ariel, Caliban and the only woman character Miranda, who may be viewed as marginalized, is so convincing that it creates a ‘mutual cognitive environment’thus facilitating the reader in arriving at an interpretation.

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