One of the famous playwrights, Shakespeare, is dead but he is still alive with us through a lot of his literature. To ask some questions about Shakespeare, Seowon News interviewed Professor O Sujin, who is part of the department of English Education at Seowon University to know more about his plays.
-Seowon News: What are the common features in Shakespeare’s literature?
-O Su Jin: Shakespeare not only reflects the society and culture of his time through his works, but also presents a universal human character through the characters’ personalities. In other words, he is a writer who focuses on understanding human nature and observing human behavior with boundless curiosity and interest. Because he dealt with the universal human character, every work has conflicts between characters. For example, in tragedies like Hemlet, Macbeth, King Lear, and Othello, there are conflicts centered on power between protagonists and antagonists. Compared to tragedy, comedy mainly deals with the process of love and marriage for young lovers. General conflictions and the gap between lovers’ ideals and reality also comes as a challenge to overcome. Comedy usually starts with parental opposition in a daughter’s marriage, and there are conflicts because of unexpected situations rather than characters’ personality. At the end, they forgive everything, and get married. Most his comedies have a same structure like A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
-SN: Are there any works in modern Korean dramas that show conflicts and relationships similar to Shakespeare’s plays?
-OSJ: In Shakespeare’s plays, there are many provocative aspects like death, plots, or parental opposition which are exactly shown in Korean morning dramas. Even though his literature was made in the 16th century, these aspects are the same as what we are going through now, such as parental opposition and conflicts between lovers. It is so modern that we can read with sympathy in the 21st century. In addition, in comedy, Shakespeare used ‘crossdressing’ which means a woman dressed as a man. At that time, it was very sensational, and it also showed a change in the status for women. In Coffee Prince, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, and A Moonlight drawn by Gureumi, we can see similar crossdressing situations that Shakespeare usually used in his literature.
-SN: How would you like to see his work for the first time? Would it be in a script rather than in a play?
-OSJ: The best way is to watch the plays to understand his plays, but if you cannot watch them, what the readers need is ‘mind’s eyes.’ It is a kind of imagination, and if you see his plays through mind’s eyes, you can know parts that are not reproduced in front of your eyes. Shakespeare also emphasized mind’s eyes in Hemlet through Hemlet’s lines. Seowon University students will be able to understand tragedy, play, historical drama, and romance if they read his works with their own ‘mind’s eyes.’