Multicultural Shakespeare: Translation, Appropriation and Performance


The essay examines a Bengali adaptation of Macbeth, namely Rudrapal Natak (published 1874) by Haralal Ray, juxtaposing it with differently accented commentaries on the play arising from the English-educated elites of 19th Bengal, and relating the play to the complex phenomenon of Hindu nationalism. This play remarkably translocates the mythos and ethos of Shakespeare’s original onto a Hindu field of signifiers, reformulating Shakespeare’s Witches as bhairavis (female hermits of a Tantric cult) who indulge unchallenged in ghastly rituals. It also tries to associate the gratuitous violence of the play with the fanciful yearning for a martial ideal of nation-building that formed a strand of the Hindu revivalist imaginary. If the depiction of the Witch-figures in Rudrapal undercuts the evocation of a monolithic and urbane Hindu sensibility that would be consistent with colonial modernity, the celebration of their violence may be read as an effort to emphasize the inclusivity (as well as autonomy) of the Hindu tradition and to defy the homogenizing expectations of Western enlightenment


„Macbeth”, violence, Bengali, nationalism, Hindu revivalism, colonial modernity


Basu, Anustup. “Hindutva and Informatic Modernization.” Boundary 2 35.3 (2008): 239-50.

Basu, Nage. Karnabir. Kolkata: Suresh Chandra Basu, 1885.

Basu, Purna Chandra. Sahitya-chinta. Kolkata: Bengal Medical Library, 1896.

Bhattacharya, Devipada. Introduction. Macbeth. Girish Rachanavali. Ed. Devipada Bhattacharya. Vol. 4. Kolkata: Sahitya Samsad, 1974. xxx-xxxiii.

Bhattacharyya, N.N. History of the Tantric Religion: A Historical, Ritualistic and Philosophical Study. New Delhi: Manohar, 2005.

Chaudhury, Sarbani and Bhaskar Sengupta. “Macbeth in Nineteenth-Century Bengal: A Case of Conflicted Indigenization.” Multicultural Shakespeare: Translation, Appropriation and Performance 10.25 (2013): 6-18.

Ghose, Girish Chandra. Macbeth. Kolkata: Abinash Chandra Gangopadhyay, 1899.

Laha, Girish Chandra. “Macbeth Pathe.” Prayas 1.10 October 1899: 630.

Laha, Girish Chandra. “Shakespeare.” Prayas 1.6 June 1899: 370.

Pal, Prashanta Kumar. Rabijibani [Biography of Rabindranath Tagore]. Vol. 1. Kolkata: Ananda Publishers, 1982.

Ray, Haralal. Rudrapal Natak. Kolkata: n.p., 1874.

Raychaudhuri, Tapan. Europe Reconsidered: Perceptions of the West in Nineteenth-Century Bengal. 1988. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Sarkar, Akshay Chandra. “Macbeth o Hamlet.” Akshay Sahityasambhar. Ed. Kalidas Nag. Vol. 2. Kolkata: Indian Associated Publishing Co., 1964. 719-45.

Sarkar, Tanika. “Imagining Hindurashtra: The Hindu and the Muslim in Bankim Chandra’s Writings.” Contesting the Nation: Religion, Community, and the Politics of Democracy in India. Ed. David E. Ludden. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996.

Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Ed. A.R. Braunmuller. The New Cambridge Shakespeare. New Delhi: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Sugirtharajah, Sharada. Imagining Hinduism: A Postcolonial Perspective. London and New York: Routledge, 2003.

First Page


Last Page