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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: June ::
Re: Similarities
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0562.  Thursday, 23 June 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Mary Ellen Zurko <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 21 Jun 94 08:40:30 EDT
        Subj:   Othello and spouse abuse
 
(2)     From:   Kimberly Nolan <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 22 Jun 1994 16:50:30 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0557  Re: Similarities
 
(3)     From:   Robert George <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 22 Jun 1994 09:25:09 EST
        Subj:   Similarities
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mary Ellen Zurko <
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Date:           Tuesday, 21 Jun 94 08:40:30 EDT
Subject:        Othello and spouse abuse
 
Contrary to the recent "Similarities" discussion, the best performance of
Othello that clearly incoported spouse abuse that I have ever seen, cast Iago
as the abuser, and Emilia as the abused. It was a film, directed by Janet
Suzman, using a South African cast (other details escape me). Though I had some
problems in other areas of the performance, for the first time, I found the
character of Emilia to be interesting as a whole, in every scene. Her flashes
of bitterness and subservience finally fit, and she was able to create tension
between a strong, clear Emilia (who emerged in the final scene) and a battered,
confused Emilia.
 
I'd be interesting in hearing what others thought about this and other aspects
of that film.
        Mez
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kimberly Nolan <
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Date:           Wednesday, 22 Jun 1994 16:50:30 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 5.0557  Re: Similarities
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0557  Re: Similarities
 
I don't wish to continue this thread of the discussion any longer except to say
that I've read and thought about Othello; I didn't see the connection Friday
night, and I don't see it now.  I was shocked at the initial postings on this
topic, and I'm glad Cary Mazer has the courage to speak up.
 
Kimberly Nolan

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(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robert George <
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Date:           Wednesday, 22 Jun 1994 09:25:09 EST
Subject:        Similarities
 
[Editor's Note: Although I normally do NOT post submissions from people who
are not members of the conference, I found the following of sufficient interest
to send out to all.  --HMC]
 
I hope I am not committing any sort of faux pas, but I stumbled across your
bulletin board by accident (forgive me, I am quite the neophyte).  The comments
from Hamlet to Lady Macbeth to Prospero and the "Lion King" were all
fascinating.  But it is the Othello/O.J. Simpson paralell that made me feel the
urge to contribute.  First and foremost, I will say for the record that I am
what is currently referred to here in the U.S. as an African American.  I say
this only to underscore my following comments.  Mr. Mazer should not feel that
merely because people note the similarity between the two "Os" that it is
necessarily racist.  Barely two days after this sad drama had begun to play out
(before the freeway chase), "Othello" first came in to my mind. (O.J.'s actual
first name is "Orenthal," which is fairly close to his counterpart, if you
think about it.)  The comment to friends was, "Which pretentious reporter will
make the first Othello reference?"  The truth is, however, few journalists have
the intellectual depth to make that comparison (journalists reading this --
consider yourselves one of the few!).
 
The American edition of TIME called this saga "An American Tragedy."  One of
the few times, it seems to me, that the word ("tragedy") has been used
correctly.  The truth is, we rarely see true tragedy anymore.  The Bard's stage
where we were merely players has today become little more than extended soap
opera.  For a brief moment, this is true tragedy, with true human horror and
emotion playing itself out in the public sphere.  But, all too soon (in fact,
it has already begun), the classically tragic elements will be smothered in
late-20th Century psychobabble including: the racial angle, the battered spouse
angle, the pampered athlete angle, the offspring of a single parent angle, and
of course the various legal angles.  The O.J. Simpson story will go the way of
Menendez/Bobbitt/Buattafuoco and goodness knows how many other sorry American
melodramas.
 
Don't get me wrong, many of the social elements are important in today's world,
but it seems to me we've lost something in perpetually dissecting Man to
innumerable influences.  Othello is a tragic hero and remains fixed so in our
minds--flawed, of course, yet heroic nonetheless.
 
A 90s "celebrity" cannot even begin to equal a Shakespearean "hero." Sadly had
O.J. actually killed himself, he might almost have touched the Moor. Now, as he
lives (barring any miracle exoneration), his image wavers.  The difference
between this modern day celebrity and a Bard "hero" is that O.J. Simpson, at
one time, was a hero to many.  He is that no more.  He is now a "fixed" as a
"celebrity" -- famous, infamous, or otherwise. Which begs the question, are
there any heroes today?  Or are they all only mere "celebrities"?  A question
for another time (and probably another place).  I apologize for taking up this
space.  This forum is a good thing.  Never be afraid of saying what you believe
or feel; if it is an observation honestly met, we all learn from your gift.
 
Thank you for your time.
Robert George (
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