In the year of the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, Dana Professor of English Cynthia L. Lewis likens NASCAR’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. to one of the bard’s infamous characters–Hamlet.
Lewis writes, “And as NASCAR roars into another season, many fans will note that Thursday marks the 15th anniversary of Dale Earnhardt’s fatal crash at Daytona. Shakespeare understood how losing a father can affect a young man who hasn’t yet reached full maturity. That, after all, is Hamlet’s story.
“It’s also the story of Dale Earnhardt Jr., son of the fallen “Intimidator.” Four centuries ago, Shakespeare, himself an icon in the works, wrote about the difficulty of grieving publicly over a father who was also an iconic king, beloved by his subjects. Remarkably, the unfolding drama of Hamlet predicts essential elements of young Dale’s mourning, in the public eye, over a celebrated, larger-than-life–and, in his own way, royal–patriarch.”