The Bard and dramatist born in Stratford upon Avon continue to be a towering figure in the lessons of schools in the colonized continents of Asia and Africa. In this essay, I would like to decolonize the texts of Shakespeare. Decolonization would proceed along the grounds politics, society and culture, psychoanalysis, gender roles and post-structural deconstruction and also aesthetic appreciation.
What would be the Politics of Shakespearean drama? Shakespeare supported an autocratic monarchic regime. Courtly life is politicized as regimental rule and supported as an ideal form of government. Yes in Shakespeare’s time monarchy was the prevalent regime. Royalty was a narcissistic fetish brought into eloquent depiction for pleasing mass consumerism. Let’s take the play of Julius Caesar. The imperialism of Caesar is relegated to the background and Caesar is portrayed as an idealistic entity. Shakespeare is crafty when he manipulates the politics of assassination as ideal for the perpetrators as well as the opponents. The politics of Shakespearean drama revolves around colonization. Such a kind of conceived production, no doubt is the trait of an inherent genius. In the Tempest the ideal of monarchy in its denouement is fertilized with royal soil of a utopia.
How can we analyze Shakespearean drama from the point of view of Society and Culture? It’s true that Shakespearean drama is a theatre for the culture of the masses. Courtly intrigues dominate the underpinnings of his plays. Romance a melancholic symptom becomes obtained as an ideal in his comedies. Shakespearean drama depicts the culture of the bourgeoisie. Nobility is given a higher vein and its culture is interpreted as elegant, sophisticated and the ritualistic. Courtly customs and manners dominate the plays and become addictive symptoms for the proletariat. Culture is colonized as the monarch as the noble as the queen.
Psychoanalyzing Shakespearean dramas is an intellectual task. I would like to take the character of Shylock the Jew who is portrayed as the racial other or the inferior. Class and race become vicious dissecting tools in probing the mind of the foreigner or the cultural other. Hamlet is an Oedipal Other, a narcissistic melancholic who is unable to fulfill the role of an avenger. Witch Sycorax is a pathologically deflated feminist and questions Shakespeare’s integrity in portraying women.
While writing on Gender roles, it’s interesting to note how Shakespeare has created the feminine mimicking the role of the masculine. Has Shakespeare made the role of women as compensation for male virility? No doubt there also women who are endowed with strong psychological traits and having a criminal bent of mind like Lady Macbeth.
Post-structural deconstructive analysis of Shakespearean texts shows their leanings towards the binary union of monarchy and nobility. Subaltern characters like jesters betray the comic of a class consciousness that is solely portrayed to amuse the nobility and the monarchy. Class consciousness shows a strict binary divide making gender and race into water-tight colonized compartments.