Reponse Paper To Anthropology Editions Essay #7: Shakespeare In The Bush

564 words - 3 pages

Significant Concept: Bohannan's article touches on a subject that is central to cultural anthropology, namely, one researcher taking advantage of appeared to be an opportunity to test her theory of comparative perspective out in the African bush. Specifically, Bohannan wanted to read Shakespeare to the natives to ascertain whether the "general plot and motivation of the greater tragedies would always be clear." As the indigenous peoples' reaction to Hamlet illustrates, this is not the case. Instead, the telling of the classic story allows a glimpse at how easily one can allow ethnocentric ideas to enter into - if not out and out define - expectations about how a given set of people ought to react to a liter ...view middle of the document...

He continued, "[I]f there had been witchcraft in [Hamlet's father's death] then Hamlet could have called the elders to settle the matter" (49). From this, one begins to understand how significant a part of a given culture norms and values are, and how they respectively provide an element of necessary context for interpreting the actions of other people and defining societal priorities in light of what Bailey & People often refer to as the human variation between cultures. From the seemingly universal notion of how people ought to act in a given to the symbols used in Shakespeare's work, Bohannan's article reinforces the key idea of relativism as it is discussed in the corresponding chapters of the B&P text, as well as the material we have been covering in class.Discussion Item: Aldous Huxley's novel, "A Brave New World" discusses a similar situation as the one mentioned in the article, in which a man is taken from one remote society and is thrust into the main group having only the culture that he has "taught" himself through the religious study of Shakespearean works. After reading this article, it is clear how Huxley's work yet seems to lack anthropological legitimacy and factual credence that Bohannan brings to light with her article. Where Shakespeare relies heavily on common cues and symbols in order to move his stories forward, individual interpretation and even the motivations of the characters involved might vary from one society to another as those cues and references change as well. In that same context, I can't help but wonder how Huxley might choose to write the "John from the reservation" character nowadays, given the wide range of enthnological information available today.


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