University of La Rioja, Department of Modern Philologies
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Ian McEwan’s Nutshell as a Contemporary Hamlet: Gender and the Hero
Abstract: Timeless heroes such as William Shakespeare’s Hamlet embody the characteristics attributed to the tragic hero by Aristotle in his Poetics. These heroes, however, cannot find a place in our contemporary society and are in consequent need of a reevaluation. This rewriting turns the tragic hero, therefore, into an anti-hero—a figure much identified in twenty-first century culture. Ian McEwan succeeds at this reevaluation in his novel Nutshell (2016), where he adapts Shakespeare’s Hamlet into a contemporary setting. Prince Hamlet, in this case, is turned into an unborn anti-hero, acting from inside his mother’s womb. The female characters are also updated, since figures like Gertrude or Ophelia are no longer relatable for audiences of the twenty-first century.
Keywords: tragic hero, anti-hero, Hamlet, Ian McEwan, rewriting, gender, contemporary
Citation suggestion: Muro, Alicia. “Ian McEwan’s Nutshell as a Contemporary Hamlet: Gender and the Hero.” Transilvania, no. 6-7 (2022): 99-109.