Presentation on theme: " This story is a perfect example that literature is open to many interpretations Just before leaving Oxford Laura has a discussion with a friend who."— Presentation transcript:
This story is a perfect example that literature is open to many interpretations Just before leaving Oxford Laura has a discussion with a friend who claims that Americans often don’t understand the true meaning of Shakespeare Hamlet, because Shakespeare was a very English poet.
She protests, and claims that human nature is the same all over the world, apart from certain details. The friend gives Laura a copy of Hamlet, to study while in the bush, in hope of her gaining “the grace of correct interpretation”.
To many people in English culture the play of Hamlet is well-known, and accepted without many difficulties. However, in the Tiv culture there are several errors in the plot that the chiefs point out.
While visiting the Tiv in Africa, Laura is asked to tell the elders a story from her culture. It is at this point that she finds her chance to tell about Hamlet because she thinks it is one of the most important pieces of literature in her society. Laura thinks that the story will be fairly easy to explain because of it is generally understood by everyone.
"I was quiet sure that Hamlet had only one possible interpretation, and that one universally obvious” Once the story started, it was clear that the Tiv had a completely different way of thinking, and interpreting story’s.
The first error that the elders found in the story was the word usage that was used to translate non-existent word in the Tiv vocabulary. The word "chief" was used in place of king or ruler, which may not seem to make a difference to her understanding. However, to a culture that relies heavily on chiefs, the story is greatly changed because the word “chief” brings about many responsibilities.
Trying to explain that the “chief” was dead, brought about a lot of confusion. To the Tiv people there is no such thing as a ghost, which means as soon as they found that King Hamlet came back to visit Hamlet, the Tiv thought it to be an omen sent by a witch. The Tiv rely on interpretations to make sense of stories, and the only way for them to interpret Hamlet is to relate its meanings to their culture.
The story telling tradition among Tiv people is considered to be an art. The audience are critical She thought the story was universally intelligible
Even when clearifying the characters of the play, the interruptions continuous “I told you that if we knew more about Europeans, we would find they really were very like us. In our country also,” he added to me, “the younger brother marries the elder brother’s widow and becomes the father of his children. Now, if your uncle, who married your widowed mother, is your father’s full brother, then he will be a real father to you. Did Hamlet’s father and uncle have one mother?” (P207)
Bohannan’s reaction was uncertain She thought they had the same mother Was not sure the story does not say For Tiv it is vital component of relationship Therefore crucial
They think Hamlet (the character) is stupid Don’t understand why Claudius’ marriying Gertrude is a problem In their culture it appropriate response of a man to his dead brother’s wife
Old man reprimended her Pointed out that these genealogical disorganisements made all the differences to the story Ask elders of her group about the detailes when she is back
This clearyfies approaching to a text differently when considering the cultural modes of the society “He had no other wives,” I told him. “But a chief must have many wives! How else can he brew beer and prepare food for all his guests?” I said firmly that in our country even chiefs had only one wife, that they had servants to do their work, and that they paid them from tax money. It was better, they returned, for a chief to have many wives and sons who would help him hoe his farms and feed his people; then everyone loved the chief who gave much and took nothing—taxes were a bad thing.
One of the elders of Tiv mentined – no young man should challenge his elders Witchcraft influenced him since they dont believe ghosts
It was terrible and wicked thing to seek revenge against the uncle, father now. Tiv believes that Hamlet should have appealed to his father’s age-mates-empowered to avenge “No man may use violence against his senior relatives” the Tiv say
“it is clear that the elders of your country have never told you what the story really means.” “ We believe you when you say your marriage customs are different, or your clothes and weapons. But people are the same everywhere; therefore, there are always witches and it is we, the elders, who know how witches work.”
“you must tell us some more stories of your country. We, who are elders, will instruct you in their true meaning, so that when you return to your own land your elders will see that you have not been sitting in the bush, but among those who know things and who have taught you wisdom.” funny
Tiv reaction demonstrates the multiplicities of meaning acc to perspective The Tiv’s re-telling of Hamlet is indicative of the cognitive process of interpretation of a western literary work in light of another culture’s epistemolgy
Their reaction highlights the importance of locating a text within a cultural context Bohannan and the Tiv listeners had no choice but to misrecognize eachothers’ narratives.
For Tiv the story was No less powerful No less morality weighted No less tragic