Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Shakespeare Interpretations

"Shakespeare in the Bush"

1) "Shakespeare in the Bush" by Laura Bohannon illuminates a common mistake any individual can make regarding literature.  That is, the misconception of believing themes in a piece of work are ultimate and unarguable.  This idea is first introduced by Bohannon's friend, who says "one can easily misinterpret the universal by misunderstanding the particular."  This quote also opens the discussion of what exactly a "misunderstanding" can be.  Indeed, by the end of Bohannon's article the reader realizes that a single change of culture between readers can result in numerous "misinterpretations" and "misunderstandings."  But are they wrong, or simply different?

2) Cultural differences abound in Bohannon's narrative of her time in Africa, one of the most noticeable in the discussion of Hamlet's father, the ghost.  Since "these people didn't believe in the survival after death of any individuation part of the personality," Bohannon struggles to even begin her story of Hamlet to the African tribe.

3) These differences, however, do not necessarily allow others to open to new ideas.  Even after the complicated process of explaining English customs and retelling Hamlet to the tribe, Bohannon is reprimanded for her misunderstanding of the text.  As a final conclusion, Bohannon recounts what one old man tells her at the end of her story: "We...will instruct you in [the story's] true meaning, so... your elders will see... who have taught you wisdom," emphasizing the idea that each culture cannot be stopped from interpreting Shakespeare in its own fashion.

"Foreign Shakespeare"

1)"Foreign Shakespeare" introduces the idea of how and why Shakespeare has become such a global phenomenon, and how its language (or, in translation, lack of language) has effected its globalization.  Kennedy first points out that in order to fully appreciate Shakespeare,  "foreign environments have had to find a desire for him," meaning that Shakespeare cannot simply merge from one culture to the next-- it must be willfully brought in to a new culture (p3).

2) Kennedy focuses strongly on the arguments between precise use of Shakespeare's original language for the sake of tradition and art, and the benefits Shakespeare has when it is translated into a modern-day language.  For the latter he points out that both the audience and performers "have a more direct access to the power of the plays" when it is performed in a more easily understood dialect (p5).

3) Towards his conclusion Kennedy brings up the final point that "Shakespeare is foreign to all of us" (p16).  This idea carries forward the argument that although Western European culture prefers the belief that Shakespeare is their cultural claim, at this point in time the language and even cultural "myths" accompanying make Shakespeare a foreign idea and art-- one that may be lost in the soon future as our dialect and customs continue to develop.

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