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Modern Day Allusions

In: English and Literature

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A Modern Day Allusion

The Elizabethan era, once filled with long dresses, courtship and theatre has now transitioned into a time when less clothing is considered better and with some teenagers, dating is a quick as a game of musical chairs, switching partners when the music stops. Teenagers are more interested in social media and texting than interacting with other people. There a two allusions that can be switched into Hamlet to allow it to appeal to a young and modern audience. Updating the term Termagant and Hercules could appeal to a more modern audience. Termagant was originally “a deity erroneously ascribed to Islam by medieval European Christians and represented in early English drama as a violent character.” This original allusion is used to describe a nasty or violent person and in Hamlet is it used in Act III Scene ii, before Hamlet performs his play. It is used in the context of “I would have such a fellow whipped for o'erdoing Termagant. It out-Herods Herod.” Hamlet was telling the actors not to overdo their performance and to not have violent outbursts. Many teenagers would not know what this word meant unless they had to look it up for a project. The word bully would be a better fit for a modern audience, because for years, teenagers and kids have been taught about the definition of a bully and what it means to bully another person. The new line would read as “I would have such a fellow whipped for o’erdoing a bully. It out-Herods Herod“ By making this replacement, it would allow teenagers to relate to what the lines are truing to get across, the same goes for Herod. Hercules was a hero in ancient greek times, known for his strength and courage. This original allusion was described in Act II Scene ii, when Hamlet is talking to Claudius and makes reference to himself as Hercules, he says “My father’s brother, but no more like my father
Than I to Hercules.” Hamlet is saying that although his Father is dead, he and his brother are about as similar as he is to Hercules, which is not much. Hercules is known because of his appearance in the Disney adaptation of the tale. A more modern version of Hercules that many teenagers can relate to is The Incredible Hulk. The Incredible Hulk is known as a fictional superhero that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and first appeared in The Incredible Hulk #1 (May 1962). Throughout his comic book appearances, the Hulk is portrayed as a large green humanoid that possesses near limitless superhuman strength and great invulnerability.” This would be a better allusion, because The Hulk has been made into many movies as well as originally appearing in the comic books. The replacement would allow the line to read as “My father’s brother, but no more like my father than I to The Incredible Hulk”. Changing the allusions previously mentioned, Termagant to bully and Hercules to The Incredible Hulk, would keep a modern, teenage audience interested. The teenagers would have the ability to relate to an older text with the experiences they have in the twenty-first century. Making these small changes would allow a wider audience to enjoy Hamlet and if done to other texts, many of Shakespeare’s other pieces of literature.

Works Cited

1 Webster, Merriam. "Termagant ." . N.p., n.d. Web. 21 July 2014. <>.

2 "Hamlet ." . Sparknotes, n.d. Web. . <>.

3"Hamlet ." . Sparknotes, n.d. Web. . < >.

4 "Hulk (comics)." . Wikipedia, n.d. Web. . <>.

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