Picking Fun at Shakespeare

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"Audiences roared at the sight of Hamlet dressed in fur cap and collar, snowshoes and mittens; they listened with amused surprise to his profanity when ordered by his father's ghost to "swear" and to his commanding Ophelia, "Get thee to a brewery"; they heard him recite his lines in black dialect or Irish brogue and sing his most famous soliloquy, "To be, or not to be," to the tune of "Three Blind Mice." " - Lawrence Levine, "William Shakespeare and the American People: A Study in Cultural Transformation"

I find it interesting how not only did Levine manage to point out a problem with an archetype of people, but he also covered two of the characters in Adventures with Huckleberry Finn, the Duke and the King.  These two characters are just as ignorant toward Shakespeare's plays that they think it is okay to go around swindling people out of their money in the hopes that they will become famous, even though they are not really trained stage professionals.

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Well in a way, don't the Duke and the King seem like they could be Shakespearean characters that Twain dropped into this story as an hommage to Shakespeare himself? Their representation of actors that know Shakespeare seems like a portrayal of those early Americans that did their own versions in their perspective dialects, etc.

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This page contains a single entry by Alexi J. Swank published on October 18, 2010 10:07 AM.

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