I keep thinking it’s odd that, while Aristotle noted dramatists using their work to neuter dangerous, hubristic inclinations within their society that would destabilise the democratic power structures of the time, Shakespeare’s tragidies seemed to focus more on questioning the natural order or divine/man-imposed right to power: to the throne.
- Hamlet questions the right of the next-in-line according to birthright
- Othello questions who should get promoted over who, and what implications this can have
- Macbeth questions a political inheretence to the throne, as well as divination
For a while, I believed these to be challenging the status quo, but now I can recognise these as cautionary suggestions and explorations of what might happen.
- If a younger brother can inherit the throne, he might kill his brother
- If someone from a minority is in power, his feelings of insecurity and inferiority may be dangerous
- If a man or woman believes they have been “chosen,” then they will risk everything
For example, I can imagine a production of Macbeth with the names and places changed, instead depicting the rise to fame and subsequent suicide of Adolf Hitler.
What does this mean for me? Well, I’ve essentially taken a rather Foucauldian reading of this: making it all about power. Do I want to weave this into my work, exploring, perhaps, the power of the individual versus the masses? In today’s world of New Media Literacy, every individual is entitled to the level of authorial authority that was granted upon those who used the first printing press. Today we have authoritative slandering of clashes of opinion. The democracy of the virtual city-state is here, but unlike the democracy Socrates so loathed and Tragedies were written to enforce, the democracy of the virtual-city state grants you existance only if you participate. It is Apathy, not Hubris that is a discredit to oneself now.
Or maybe I should just fade into nothing and not say a word…