Date of Award
Linda Bensel-Meyers, Ph.D.
Achebe, Character, Shakespeare, Supernatural, Tragedy
This study examines how Shakespeare and Achebe use supernatural devices such as prophecies, dreams, beliefs, divinations and others to create complex characters. Even though these features are indicative of the preponderance of the belief in the supernatural by some people of the Elizabethan, Jacobean and traditional Igbo societies, Shakespeare and Achebe primarily use the supernatural to represent the states of mind of their protagonists.
Through an essentially New Historicist approach to the study of character and the supernatural in the tragedies and novels of Shakespeare and Achebe respectively, I argue that both writers, besides using supernatural features to explore the human mind, also indicate how these devices could forewarn the protagonists about certain happenings, as well as being instruments of poetic justice. In a sense, the character of Macbeth, Lear, Okonkwo and Ezeulu, for example, can substantially be appreciated in the ways that these heroes respond to external forces like witches, storms, gods/goddesses and others. Thus, there is exposure, through the supernatural, to traits like ambition, wrath, impulsiveness, pride and others that considerably account for the downfall of the heroes. In fact, Shakespeare's and Achebe's preoccupation with the supernatural adds subtlety to their characterization and enhances their readability by situating their art beyond time, place or even particularity.
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Usongo, Kenneth N., "William Shakespeare and Chinua Achebe: A Study of Character and the Supernatural" (2010). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1387.
Received from ProQuest
Kenneth N. Usongo
Comparative literature, African literature, Classical literature