Tag Archives: English Literature

Mixture of Cultures; a letter to a friend

قياسي

coin minted in 41 BC, Antony and Cleopatra

..Dear friend

When thoughts keep roaming in the mind, they just insist to be transformed into words which, after all, hold each others’ hands to make many phrases and sentences. And of course, these sentences won’t feel satisfied unless they settle down in “Microsoft Word”. And after being one coherent article they choose to fly to the one that will understand them the most… I know this sounds silly.. But believe me, sometimes, I feel these words and sentences are really in charge.. They just want to come out, be listened to and understood… Let alone that having someone who can understand you more than anyone else, has the power to provoke your mind and heart to express yourself more and to share your thoughts more and more…  As for why you are the one who can understand these words and sentences the best, then this is another long story…

While studying literature, you come across different fields of human sciences; language, history, religions, philosophy, psychology, etc.. In fact, psychologists borrow characters from literature and depend on them to prove their theories.. Unlike many of my colleagues, I really enjoyed studying English literature and also I learnt a lot from it. I learnt not only what has to do with language and mere information about literature, but also I learnt about the nature of the human being..

When a piece of literature is considered universal this means that the kind of psychology and character it holds can be found anywhere. For example, human feeling such as sadness, happiness, jealousy, envy, etc, can be found any place in the world.. However, we can’t ignore the specialty of English literature. It’s studying English language, the history of England, English habits, culture, religion and great personalities, etc (and American literature too). I can say that all what I read, knew and studied affected my personality in a way or another.

One term you find in literature is “identification”. When you read a novel or a play, you choose, subconsciously, the closest character to your personality and you identify yourself with it.. It’s when you feel as if this character is talking about you. So you sympathize with it…

I consider “Antony and Cleopatra”, the famous Shakespearian play, to be his best. It’s a very rich play with endless themes… Though it’s a tragedy tells the true story of Antony and Cleopatra, yet it contains lots of comedy, romance and history.  After the tragic death of Julius Caesar, the Roman Empire was divided. Antony was the great Romanian leader who was sent to the east to run the Romanian colonies and among them Egypt. Cleopatra was the charming Egyptian queen whom Antony fell in love with..

From the Romanian point of view, Antony was a Roman emperor who lost his empire for an immoral relationship with a woman who doesn’t deserve losing one’s Roman empire, identity and responsibilities for. Now, Shakespeare tried to show that there could be another point of view not discussed in the books of history; the story that Cleopatra wasn’t allowed to tell..

In Egypt, Antony used to mix between the people to learn about them. They taught him the values of humanity and love which were lacking in the world of Rome. Mixing with Alexandrians was an attempt by Antony to bridge the gap between the two cultures.. In Egypt, he turned totally Egyptian and was hailed as the best man, while in Rome he was always condemned.. Though the Roman Empire was pagan at the time, but Antony and Cleopatra were condemned on  many grounds; politically (he lost his identity and empire for a woman), socially (he was married in Rome) and morally (they had sexual relationship with no marriage). Later on it was condemned religiously.

On the other hand, Cleopatra was the Egyptians’ queen and goddess. For them, he is her husband, and everything she does is legal and legitimate.. Every time he is in Rome, Antony promises that he will never go back to this woman. But the moment he is in Egypt, he forgets all about Rome.. It wasn’t only Cleopatra, but also the whole exotic world of Egypt fascinated him..

It’s Antony’s mixture of two cultures that made me, to a certain extent, identify myself with him.. It’s the fact that I hold an Islamic eastern culture along with a western one that forced me to sympathize with him.. It’s a mixture of our lovely Islamic culture and of the best of the eastern and the western cultures. And because I do feel that you share me this mixture of cultures, I see you as the one who can understand my words and sentences the best…

Have great times…

                                                                            Damascus

Ban Abdullah