Character and the Supernatural in Shakespeare and Achebe  book cover
1st Edition

Character and the Supernatural in Shakespeare and Achebe

ISBN 9780367710774
Published March 10, 2021 by Routledge
162 Pages

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Book Description

Through mainly a New Historicist critical approach, this book explores how Shakespeare and Achebe employ supernatural devices such as prophecies, dreams, gods/goddesses, beliefs, and divinations to create complex characters. Even though these features indicate 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. Both writers appropriate supernatural features to mirror tragic flaws such as ambition, arrogance, impulsiveness, and fear that contribute to the downfall of Macbeth, Lear, Okonkwo, and Ezeulu. We relate to some of these characters because they project our inner minds, principal drives that may be hidden within us. Therefore, Shakespeare and Achebe’s preoccupation with the supernatural adds subtlety to their characterization and enhances their readability by situating their art beyond time, place, or particularity.

Table of Contents

Chapter One Contextualizing Shakespeare and Achebe

Chapter Two The Term Supernatural

Chapter Three Shakespeare and the Supernatural

Chapter Four Achebe and the Supernatural

Chapter Five Shakespeare’s and Achebe’s Use of the Supernatural

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Kenneth Usongo received a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Denver, USA, and a doctorate in English literary studies from the University of Yaoundé 1, Cameroon. He is the author of Politics and Romance in Shakespeare’s Four Great Tragedies and Art and Political Thought in Bole Butake.


"Kenneth Usongo has broken the boundaries of national and territorial restrictions and regionalism to explore the underlying cultural dispensations that unite us as humans-- the search for certainty and truth and the interconnectedness between the spiritual and the mundane that define and give meaning to life. He has put into palpable terms the seeming contradictions in Othello’s "I am not what I am," Macbeth’s the disappearing bearded weird sisters, Hamlet’s the ghost, the Igbo chi, the pythons, the yam, the western church, and the evil forest into the boiling cauldron of modern civilization. What comes out of Shakespeare/Achebe’s cauldron is the humbling picture of humankind’s indebtedness to the supernatural and warnings against excesses in pride, political power, ambition, greed, homicide, and vanity." Emmanuel N. Ngwang, Wiley College, Marshall, Texas, USA