Shakespeare in the Bush

The article “Shakespeare in the Bush” by Laura Bohannan provides personal account and reflections on author’s visit to the Tiv people who live in the West Africa. Actually, Bohannan appears both author and narrator of the piece providing to the audience interpretation of Hamlet as she recounted the whole story. In the article the author tries to define what is right and what is wrong claiming that these concepts are universal. She admits that certain truths are able to remain without changes despite locations, spaces and times because truth is eternal: “I protested 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–everywhere–although some details of custom might have to be explained and difficulties of translation might produce other slight changes.”. In the article the author presents the fallacy of misinterpretation of truth and she tends to show that to people who weren’t brought up in the traditions of western world, Hamlet was simply shining example of heroic code. Tiv people couldn’t understand the very nature of Hamlet and questioned Bohannan both about his actions, thoughts and motivation.

However, it is underlined that Tiv people alternated in their conclusion Hamlet’s character. For example, they considered Hamlet as crude, vile and villainous personality. Further, Tiv people noted that Hamlet was unable to rule because he stepped back facing dangers and lines of demarcation were on his actions. With the progression of Shakespeare’s play, Tiv people felt even more disdain and disrespect for the character and they decided that their initial reflections that Hamlet was evil were proved once again. Furthermore, Hamlet was considered to be afflicted with madness and insanity and, therefore, he failed to be accountable for actions taken.  Nevertheless, rather interesting moment of the article is the fact that what is considered truth in one culture, may be regarded as evil in another one. In other culture truth may be nothing more than simply facets of human psyche.

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Works Cited

Bohannan, Laura. (1971). Shakespeare in the Bush. Available at http://www.cc.gatech.edu/people/home/idris/Essays/Shakes_in_Bush.htm