Unit 1 written Assignment
I choose to write about Shakespeare in the bush by Laura Bohannan. I think Bohannan has two main points to her story. The first point I think is, that any story is universal and can be understood by anyone in the world with a little help and explaining of curtain customs. Laura said in the first page of her story, “human nature is pretty much the same the whole world over.” (Shakespeare in the Bush). I think her other main point towards the end of her story, is that stories lose their meanings when the listener feels differently about the central points of that story. Bohannan tries to use the story of Hamlet as an example to support her claim to her colleague. Because her colleague said American’s have a hard time understanding the story of Hamlet. Bohannan hopes to prove human nature is universal and she thinks the Tiv will understand and interpret the story of Hamlet the same way she does. Bohannan believes the story of Hamlet is universally intelligible and the story only has one interpretation. Bohannan thinks the story of Hamlet will be easy to make clear to the Tiv, because she thinks it’s understood by everyone. During her telling the story to the Tiv, she comes across problems and learns that the Tiv disagree with numerous parts of the story. The Tiv thought it was ok for Claudius to marry his dead brother’s wife, because that is an acceptable custom for their tribe. But this is supposed to mean a wrong choice for the story to work. The Tiv also had trouble understanding the meaning of a ghost. They interpreted it as a witch or a zombis (Shakespeare in the Bush). The Tiv also disagree with Hamlet avenging his father. They believe it’s impossible for someone to kill their elders. They also interpreted Hamlet going mad differently, they said it was witchcraft. Bohannan says its because he couldn’t marry Ophelia. Throughout her telling the story of Hamlet the Tiv would interpret the events and motives using their cultural knowledge. This is an example of cross-cultural miscommunication (Shakespeare in the Bush). I feel that Laura Bohannan needed more experience in the “field” to make a claim like that to her colleague. I don’t think she had any evidence to support her claim that the story of Hamlet could be understood universally. And I feel she didn’t have enough knowledge about different cultures. Although she did end up learning a lot from the elders of the tribe. It seems to me that Bohannan’s colleague was right. The difference in culture has a big impact on the interpretation of Hamlet. The argument Bohannan presents at the beginning of her story is flawed. Even though the tiv elders were able to predict the end of the story, Bohannan didn’t prove the plot and motives of Hamlet were universal. Bohannan didn’t think about the Tiv’s different customs and traditions and that it would impact their understanding of Hamlet. Bohannan learned that no values are truly universal, because the way you understand something is different in a different culture. The Tiv and Bohannan felt that their interpretations were the correct interpretations. I feel there is no correct or right interpretations, because being right is dependent on the application of local cultural standards.