Laura Bohannan tries to explain Hamlet, a 17th century European revenge drama, to a group of Tiv tribal elders who have never seen, read, or heard of this Shakespearean work. The Tiv are a tribe of people who live on the banks of the river Benue in central Negeria. Laura Bohannan is on the field trip to that area to study the tribe’s culture. One tradition is to tell stories of the past, and when Laura Bohannan was asked to tell a story she chose Hamlet. Hamlet is a play written by Shakespeare, it is a drama about a son seeking revenge for his father’s death. Hamlet is a prince that learns, from his father’s ghost, that Cladius, Hamlet’s uncle, which now has married Hamlet’s mother, murdered his father. Hamlet, upset by his mother’s fast change of hart and ghost’s revelation, swore to take revenge by killing Cladius, but at first he wasn’t sure if the ghost was his dead father or an evil spirit. After Hamlet saw the ghost he started to act like a mad person.
His stepfather willing to find out what is wrong with Hamlet he sent for two of Hamlets classmates and ordered them to get close to Hamlet and find out what he was up to. Hamlet saw right through them and didn’t tell them anything, but with them Hamlet’s ‘friends’ brought a small traveling theater to cheer Hamlet up. Hamlet decided to make actors show a play of how his father was killed. When Cladius saw the play he decided to kill Hamlet, by sending him to another state with a letter saying that Hamlet must be killed. But Hamlet forged the letter and came back. Cladius then persuaded Laeties to duel with Hamlet with a poisoned sword; Laerties is a son of Polonius whom Hamlet killed by an accident. Before the duel Cladius puts poison in a drink for the winner whoever it might be. During the duel Hamlet is lightly injured, but with the poison and kills Laerties.
In the first section of the passage, Hamlet is filled with self-loathing. His feelings of worthlessness are made quite apparent as he questions himself with statements like "What is a man, if his chief good and market of his time be but to sleep and feed? A beast no more." This metaphor clearly shows how unworthy Hamlet feels about the fact that he has been lying around doing nothing and his ...
Hamlets mother happy to see that her son has won drinks Hamlet’s drink and dies, Hamlets seeing that using his last strength kills Cladius and dies. Laura Bohannan had troubles explaining this play to the tribal elders, because of the differences in cultures. First elders didn’t understand the part with a ghost. Then how could Hamlet decide to kill Cladius and not go through the court. And why Hamlet was acting like a mad person. Hamlet acts as a mad person, so he can do stuff that would arise suspicions if he was a sane person.
He confesses that to his friend Horatio. Many people believe that Hamlet actually became mad after talking to the ghost, but he didn’t. Through the play we can see logical thinking in his soliloquies and actions.