This paper probes the conflict between the past and present and the manifestations of agency in novelistic adaptations. The argument draws on Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed (2016), which is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest (1610-1611). Marked by a shift in time, space and genre, Hag-Seed is postmodernist in its self-consciousness and intertextuality as it re-envisions, structurally and thematically, a prior work.Hag-Seed recounts the revenge orchestrated by the protagonist Felix, a playwright and director, who is ousted from his position by his rival Tony before his production of The Tempest. Twelve years after his forced retirement, Felix produces the play with a cast of prison inmates, laying a trap for Tony to extract revenge. While the theme of revenge driving Hag-Seed’s plot resembles Shakespeare’s Tempest, the depiction of Miranda in Atwood’s Hag-Seed departs from Shakespeare’s. Felix’s daughter is dead and appears as a spirit-child through the novel, an imprint of the past that is laid to rest only through a successful performance of The Tempest in the present. In the process, agency appears at points of tension, in the plot and novelistic structure, when the present/Self/novel reinvents itself using the past/Other/play as a point of reference. By extending the implications of Hag-Seed’s Miranda as a metaphor for the conflicting, fragile yet tenuous relationship between the past, present and future to the study of the novelistic adaptation of a 17th century English play in the 21st century, this paper considers the ways in which fictional representation mobilises agency.
Nishevita Jayendran, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, India
Stream: Literary Studies / All genres/ Theory
This paper is part of the ACCS2018 Conference Proceedings (View)
View / Download the full paper in a new tab/window