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Analysis Of The Story "Shakespeare In The Bush".

1259 words - 5 pages

In the story Shakespeare in the Bush, author Laura Bohannan has an argument with a friend about the interpretation of Shakespeare's literature. Her friend stated that Shakespeare was "a very English poet" and that people of other cultures could certainly misunderstand his literal meanings. The author then argues that the plots and motivations of Shakespeare's tragic plays will always be apparent because human nature is more or less universal through out the world. She does however take into account that the customs and translation of his works could produce slight differences in their interpretations. The argument remained a stalemate as she was preparing to travel to Africa. Her friend gave her a copy of Hamlet as a parting gift with hopes that perhaps she would find the true interpretation. On her trip to Africa the author finds out that custom, translations, and culture play a larger role in the interpretation of Shakespeare and that his meanings were not as universal as she previously thought.During her stay with the Tiv in Africa, Bohannan gets a chance to relay the story of Hamlet to the tribe. She began the tale with the appearance of Hamlet's fathers ghost. Right away the elder questioned this. The concept of someone having a ghost or living after they die was very foreign to them. They were convinced that the author had gotten the story wrong because the only explanation for a spirit could be that it was an omen sent by a witch. Horatio was also viewed as a fool for not bringing such an important matter before a person with proper knowledge of such omens. The Tiv's perspective was that hamlet this matter should have never been brought to Hamlet's attention. It is obvious that their customs and traditions were already biasing their interpretation of the story. If Hamlet were not informed of this "omen" he would have never sought revenge for the death of his father, thus changing the plot dramatically.Another major complication with the story the Tiv had, was Hamlet's uncles' succession to the throne. In Tiv society it is only natural for the brother of the chief to become chief in the event of his brothers death. The Tiv also commended the speed with which Hamlet's mother remarried after the death of her husband. A wife of one of the elders overheard this part of the story and explained that a quick remarriage is ideal. She stated that without a husband the farm would not be cultivated, therefore a quick remarriage was essential so that lack of food would not occur. It was obvious to the Tiv woman that the mother had done this in the best interests of the family so Hamlet had no reason to feel negatively about it. The author tried in vain to explain why these things would make Hamlet miserable. Fear of famine was not on the mind of Hamlet's mother for she was powerful enough not to rely on her husband for food. Western society would view this remarriage as a form of incest and would not be socially acceptable. Also a mourning period would...

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