Shakespeare in the Bush By Laura Bohannan Shakespeare in the Bush Quiz A. Choose three of the following points of discussion between the Tiv and Bohannan about Hamlet. Explain briefly how the Tiv interpret each of these components of the play. 1. The Ghost 2. Beliefs about Chiefs 3. Hamlets madness and revenge 4. Polonius advice to Ophelia about Hamlet 5. The reason for Ophelias death
B. Explain what Bohannan thought at the beginning of her experience and how this changed after her storytelling attempt with the Tiv. Misinterpreting Hamlet Shakespeare in the Bush Answers 1. The Ghost No individual personality exists after death, so the Ghost must have been an omen sent by a witch, and omens cant talk. So since it was an omen, Hamlet
should have gone to a-man-whosees-the-truth who could have told him the truth about how his father died. Misinterpreting Hamlet Shakespeare in the Bush Answers 2. Chiefs The next in line after a Chief dies is the Chiefs brother, not his son, and it is right for him to marry his brothers wife in order to protect the wife and
the children and to have more children to help with the work. A Chief also should have many wives. Misinterpreting Hamlet Shakespeare in the Bush Answers 3. Hamlets Madness and Revenge Hamlets attempt to kill Claudius was a grievous sin because it is wrong for a man to kill his fathers brother. This
would have been the responsibility of the elders or King Hamlets age-mates, not Hamlet Jr. But because the Tiv conclude that Claudius sent a witch to make Hamlet mad, he would not have been responsible for murder due to his madness. Misinterpreting Hamlet Shakespeare in the Bush Answers 4. Advice to Ophelia
Polonius was a fool for not letting Ophelia go to Hamlet because if Hamlet didnt marry her, he would still be required to give her many presents as his mistress. Misinterpreting Hamlet Shakespeare in the Bush Answers 5. Ophelias Death Laertes had to come up with some money quickly to pay off his fines and debts, so he
thought of marrying off his sister, but all potential suitors would have been too scared because she had been courted by Hamlet, the son of the past chief. So he killed his sister by witchcraft, drowning, so that he could sell her body for money. Shakespeare in the Bush Answers B. Explain what Bohannan thought at the beginning of her experience and how this changed after
her storytelling attempt with the Tiv. In the beginning Bohannan believed that: Human nature is pretty much the same the whole world over; at least the general plot and motivation of the greater tragedies would always be clear. Bohannan believed that Hamlet is a universal story that resonates a universal message to all people regardless of culture. She disagreed with her colleague who said that Shakespeare was, after all, a very English poet, and one can easily misinterpret the universal by misunderstanding the particular. Bohannan believed that the particular story of Hamlet could not be misinterpreted and that the universal message would still come across.
Why was Bohannan proven wrong about the universality of Hamlet? Critical Perspective: New Historicism Although the Tiv might read Hamlet one way, Shakespeare was writing in a very different time and place, and that is the CONTEXT we must use to understand the PLOT. Only then can we correctly discover the intended
UNIVERSAL THEME. Bohannans colleague was correct in saying that one can misinterpret the universal by misinterpreting the particular. A great piece of literature reveals the universal through the particular, but the audience must understand the CONTEXT first to get to the UNIVERSAL THEME.
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