Sie sind auf Seite 1von 2

17/01/2015

WoleSoyinka's"Hamlet":(Nigeria'saPrison)

WoleSoyinka's"Hamlet":(Nigeria'saPrison)
AbraReid,'91.5,English32(Spring1990)
Hamlet:Icouldbeboundedinanutshellandcountmyselfakingof
infinitespacewereitnotthatIhavebaddreams.(2.2.2546)
WoleSoyinka's"Hamlet,"showsthepoet'sempathywithShakespeare'smostfamouscharacter.
"Hamlet"containsmanyreferencestotheplayitself,yetmanyoftheimagesandlinescouldbeapplied
toSoyinka'sownlifeinprison.Thepoemiswritteninsonnetform,withatightrhymescheme,which
focusesthereader'sattentionontheemphasiswhichSoyinkaplacesonthelinkbetweenhimselfandthe
Dane.
ThefirststanzafocusesonHamlet'sreluctancetoactontheghost'srevelation.Thediscoveryofhis
father'smurderprovokes"passion'sflame",yetHamlet'shabitofthinkingandanaylzingeveryaction
"douses"hisintentto"sweepto[his]revenge"(Hamlet1.5.31).Hisfearthattheghost'saccusationsmay
beuntrueallowstheusurpingrulerClaudiusto"indulge"himselfinhisincestouslustforthequeenand
continuewearinghisborrowedKinglyrobes.The"state'sdisease"belongstotheElizabethanideaofthe
Kingbeingasustaining,lifegivingpowerattheheartofallthingsinthestate.Thus,asClaudius'actions
areevil,hepoisonsthewholeofDenmarkwithhissickness.AtthetimeofSoyinka'simprisonment,
Nigeria'sofficialswerenotoriouslycorrupt,thusleadingtoananalogybetweenNigeriaandDenmark.
Violenceandpoliticalstrifewrackedthecountry,mirroringtheunnaturalstateofaffairsinDenmark
wherebrotherplotsagainstbrother,sonagainstfather,andfatheragainstmother.
ThesecondstanzadescribesHamlet'sworld,butitwouldequallyholdtrueasadescriptionofSoyinka's
imprisonment.In"ChimesofSilence"Soyinkadetailstheinnerworking'sofhismind:"Slowly,
remorselessly,realitydissolvesandcertitudebetraysthemind"(AShuttleintheCrypt,31).Soyinka's
world,likeHamlet's,existsinastateoflimbowhere"Ghostsembowell(ed)hisearth"everything
becomeslesstangibleandlessreal.ThelastsentencereferstoTheMurderofGonzago,aplaywhich
HamletsetsbeforeKingClaudiusinordertoprovehisguilt.Thestanzapresentsajuxtapositionbetween
theconfusionofthesupernaturalworld,andtherealityofdiscoveringtheKing'sguilt.Inaddition,the
stanzacreatesatensionbetweenthemachinationsofHamlet'smindandtherationalebehindhisactions.
Soyinka'spoem,writtenunderextremelyharshconditions,demonstratestheabilityofthehumanmindto
detatchfromanger,orpassion,sufficientlytoactorwritesomethinginadesirableway.
ThelaststanzafocusesonthedichotomybetweenHamlet'swishtorevengeandhisconstantstalling.As
theplay's"scourgeandminister"hemustrevengetofufillfilial"duty"butfateconsistentlyworksagainst
him.ItisonlyinthefinalsceneintheplaywhentheKing,andanotherrevengingson,Laertes,organize
aswordfightbetweenthem,thatHamletfinallyacts.Hamlet'strustandsenseofhonorcauseshimnotto
lookatLaertes'swordwhichis"unbatedandenvenom'd"(Hamlet,5.2.323),andthewoundherecieves
isfatal.Yet,thisknowledgespursHamletontocommittheonlyactthattheplayhasrequiredofhim:he
murderstheKing.Thus,SoyinkacommentsontheparadoxofHamlet'scouragearrvingatthetimewhen
heisphysically,athisweakest.Perhaps,Soyinka'semphasisofthispoint,couldrelatetohisown
couragewhichmanagedtorallyhisspiritsduringthelowestemotionalpointsofhissolitary
confinement.
http://www.postcolonialweb.org/soyinka/hamlet1.html

1/2

17/01/2015

WoleSoyinka's"Hamlet":(Nigeria'saPrison)

HamletreflectsNigeria'ssicknessanditsinfection,whichpermeatesthroughtoSoyinkahimself.The
confusionandhorrorsofDenmarkhavetheirmoderndaycounterpartinNigeria,and,morespecifically,
intheliteralandmentalimprisonmentofSoyinka.
[Followforanotherview]

http://www.postcolonialweb.org/soyinka/hamlet1.html

2/2