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Modernizing Allusions in Shakespeare's “Hamlet”

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ENG4U

Modernizing Allusions in Shakespeare's “Hamlet”

Umair Mohammad

Mr. Scarrow

Would most teenagers understand allusions written in the Elizabethan era, roughly four hundred and fifty years ago? The simple answer is probably not. The mundane lifestyle of the average modern teenager is not similar to that of a teenager that was born and raised during the Elizabethan era. Therefore, the text in many of the Shakespearian plays read in modern high schools should be updated to include modern versions of allusions. Furthermore, an act such as this would inhibit major benefits such as, students gaining a better understanding of the literature as a whole by being able to make connections due to the allusions.

Transforming the allusions first made by Shakespeare in the Elizabethan era would not only be rather simple, but it would benefit teenagers. Many allusions created by Shakespeare in his play “Hamlet” can be recreated to suit the lifestyles and languages of modern teenagers. For example, “It out-Herods Herod. Pray you, avoid it.” (III, ii, 14) is an allusion referencing a very old biblical king that is very similar to Claudius from “Hamlet”. The majority of modern teenagers will not have any knowledge of this king, and thus a more modern allusion is in order. It could be done by researching a different person that can be compared to Claudius in this allusion. For instance, we could use Scar in Herod’s stead. This is because Scar is a character in “The Lion King”, that much like Claudius, killed his brother for the throne. Scar is also very common in pop culture. Modernizing allusion in “Hamlet” and other plays could potentially cause teenagers to gain so much more from them.

Teenagers going into high school English classes must read plays written by Shakespeare. The allusions in these plays are from hundreds of years prior to them gaining an understanding of modern society. Therefore, it will be very difficult to understand the allusions. If the allusions were more modern, the teen students could relate better to them, while at the same time making mental connections to the play. If this were the case, the teen populace would enjoy these works from Shakespeare a lot more, and they would be more lenient to reading them.

Modern allusions could be a great asset to the English curriculum, and to the teenage readers. It would be easy to do this by replacing aged allusions that are referencing non modern history with allusion teenagers can understand. This, in turn, will aid teenagers to fully grasp major concepts of the plot and atmosphere of the plays. Teenagers that enjoy such influential plays would have far more success than ones who don’t. Would it not help our teenage community?

Works Cited

1. Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. No Fear Shakespeare ed. N.p.: Sparknotes, 2014. Web. 21 July 2016.…...

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