April 8th, 2014
02:38 PM ET

Why Shakespeare fits with Syria tragedy

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This month marks William Shakespeare's 450th birthday, and people around the world are celebrating – from Stratfordians to Syrians.

Yes, Syrians. One hundred Syrian children have just performed an adaptation of King Lear…in one of the world's largest refugee camps. Located in Jordan, the Zaatari camp is home to over 100,000 Syrian refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.

Many of the children are not educated and have never read or seen any of Shakespeare's work. But they are no strangers, of course, to the tragedy of the human condition. And this particular play – a story of exile, a ruler losing grip with reality, a land divided by rival groups, a tale of human cruelty – seems especially relevant.

While a refugee camp may seem like the unlikeliest of places to discover Shakespeare, the playwright himself might not have thought so. After all, mentioning faraway places was common in his plays. In both Macbeth and Othello, in fact, Shakespeare mentions the Syrian city of Aleppo. Another reminder that Syria is one of the oldest centers of human civilization – which makes the current violence there seem even more tragic.

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Topics: Last Look • Syria

soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. No 'Shakespeare'

    US warships cruising in the Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea and Black Sea are NOT Shakespeare. This is Mr.Obama tragedy.

    April 8, 2014 at 2:53 pm | Reply
    • Oh stop it

      Syria isn't Obama's fault. Grow the heck up and stop blaming him for your lack of intelligence.

      April 8, 2014 at 10:25 pm | Reply
      • Or you stop ...

        ... or you not know ... don´t want to know ... what US warships are capable to do.

        April 9, 2014 at 2:41 am |
      • Rick

        Obama has been funding the islamic terrorsts since 2011. He to this very day claims the FSA is "secular" yet in June 2013 the FSA officially united with Jabhat-Al-Nusra in Aleppo (Al-Qaeda Syria) in a formal ceremony attended by 40+ other terrorist groups.

        April 13, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
  2. The GOP Solution

    The GOP Solution: Turn all the Old, Sick, Poor, Non-white, Non-christian, Female, and Gay people into slaves. Then whip them until they are Young, Healthy, Rich, White, Christian, Male, and Straight. Or until they are dead. Then turn them into Soylent Green to feed the military during the next "unfunded/off-the-books" war. And don't forget the GOP all time favorites........TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH!!!..........and........GET RID OF SS AND MEDICARE!!!

    April 8, 2014 at 5:02 pm | Reply
  3. chrissy

    Lol @ Oh Stop It, doncha know by now EVERYTHING is Obamas fault! How dare that black man have the audacity to run for POTUS AND WIN! Lol

    April 9, 2014 at 10:49 pm | Reply
  4. emil kaiypov

    ______________________________________________________pause the war

    My name is Emil Kaiypov. I am a citizen of the Kyrgyz Republic, a lawyer, and a father of two children. The proposal for which I am asking your kind support is the suspension of all currently existing hostilities on Earth.

    The main goal of my entire project is to save and improve the lives of children who are suffering from the present conflicts and violence.

    The challenge is to create a moment of "pause" [a technical term from video language] in hostilities now and in the future, as well as to refusal to restart them at all. I believe that in this context, such "pause" in the war action seems do-able and practical, much more effective than the idealistic and utopian pressing of an imaginary "stop" button. In the future the first action will equate to the second: "pause" will become "stop". In order to alert the international community and potential supporters, I made a demonstration of my own at 18 October 2013 on the territory of Syrian embassy in Beirut, with poster "pause the war".

    The purpose of this demonstration, is to show through an example that:

    1) one person has the power to perform an action directed to the benefit of all mankind.

    2) no one should be indifferent, when war is concerned.

    3) war requires us to drop everything else, in order to stop it. Daily activities, against the background of war, look meaningless and empty.

    I believe, that this idea will resonate and supporters will wish to join it. The age of information technologies, will help to spread it around the globe. Definitely there will be supporters among the world's famous celebrities. In the event that a large number of ordinary people and celebrities join this campaign, the dream to stop all military actions on the planet will be realized. This will serve as an occasion to announce the call for volunteers in the "international army of peace". It will consist of unarmed "soldiers" who are ready at any time, to go to the hot spot to "pause" the hostilities with the fact of their presence and to encourage the warring parties to engage in dialogue. Ideally, this army should consist of a world-famous and beloved celebrities from all spheres of human activities.

    I suggest that countries be ready to support my initiative, in solidarity, by placing on the cloth of their national flags, the well-known pause symbol "II". I believe that in the course of implementation of this anti-war action, the reasons for which the suspended armed conflict began, will be resolved or continued in a civilized manner. This anti-war action will bring about a new peaceful reality, when there will be no state left, which "international army of peace" had not visited.

    The termination of all hostilities, will become the point of departure for further continuous progress in all directions.

    We are able to bring about the time, when the world will be fairly managed by a workable international organization which will be trusted by all citizens of the earth. When this happens, all kinds of weapons will be transferred to international United Nations control, the purpose of which, will be the preservation of peace and sustainable development of mankind.

    We live in a world, when the collective effort makes possible the colonizing of other planets in the foreseeable future. I believe, that we have enough strength and resources for the child born tomorrow to see a world, where uniform international standards of education, labor, pension and medical care, will be established everywhere. A world, where the primary human needs will be satisfied for free.

    A world, where nobody talks about freedom, because absolute freedom will accompany each person from the moment of birth, to his last breath. A world, where the happiness and freedom of the individual, will not happen in isolation but will include freedom and happiness of all of humanity. A world without war.

    A world without war is undisputed goal, that sooner or later humanity will definitely reach. It is the primary duty of every adult to fulfill a "world in peace"– everyone’s childhood dream. Every child surrounded by the horrors of war dreams that one day somebody will come and say "It is enough!" and by saying it bring war to an end. Then war will stop. That day has come! It's time to combine our efforts in order to make that dream come true.

    April 10, 2014 at 11:17 pm | Reply
  5. USAPeasant

    Good article and video indeed Fareed!

    April 13, 2014 at 4:52 am | Reply
  6. Rick

    Fareed Zakaria is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a globalist. Thats all you need to know. He's big USA exceptionalism.

    April 13, 2014 at 2:45 pm | Reply

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