Bengal as Shakespeare’s India and the Stolen Indian Boy: The Historical Dark Matter of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Imtiaz Habib


Shakespeare studies have long puzzled over Shakespeare’s view of India. Such conversations have not focused on Bengal, which is not mentioned in his works. Yet, a close contemporary of Shakespeare had an extended stay in Bengal just as the playwright’s career was beginning. There are compelling reasons to believe that Shakespeare’s view of India was shaped by the Bengal experiences that this Elizabethan visitor to India brought back to London. The obscure process of this influence on Shakespeare comprises historical dark matter, and is part of the shadowy way Bengal contributed to the playwright’s iconic global status.


A Midsummer Night's Dream; Historical dark matter; allegory; English colonialism; evidence; spice trade; kidnapping

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