Analysis of the story "Shakespeare in the bush".

Essay by ecestanyCollege, Undergraduate September 2003

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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...