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Hamlet's Arab JourneyShakespeare's Prince and Nasser's Ghost$
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Margaret Litvin

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691137803

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691137803.001.0001

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Six Plays in Search of a Protagonist, 1976–2002

Six Plays in Search of a Protagonist, 1976–2002

(p.142) 6 Six Plays in Search of a Protagonist, 1976–2002
Hamlet's Arab Journey

Margaret Litvin

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines six Arab Hamlet offshoot plays performed between 1976 and 2002, describing how the Egyptian, Syrian, and Iraqi dramatists of the past thirty-five years have since deployed Hamlet for dramatic irony. The most recent of these plays, written in English, stands on the margins of the Arab Hamlet tradition. But the rest, aware of their predecessors' heroic Hamlet, turn him into a foil for their own pointedly inarticulate and ineffectual protagonists. These bitter, often hilarious plays criticize the political situation, but they are at their best in mocking allegorical political theatre. The only real political agency available, they suggest, is the power to set oneself above one's circumstances through ironic laughter.

Keywords:   Arab Hamlet, offshoot plays, dramatic irony, Arab Hamlet tradition, allegorical political theatre, political agency, ironic laughter

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