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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: November ::
Re: Desdemona's Death
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0878. Wednesday, 8 November 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Michael Saenger <
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        Date:   Monday, 6 Nov 1995 17:15:11 -0500
        Tubj:   Re: SHK 6.0873 Re: Desdemona's Death
 
(2)     From:   Susan Mather <
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        Date:   Monday, 6 Nov 1995 17:19:27 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0873  Re: Desdemona's Death
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Saenger <
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Date:           Monday, 6 Nov 1995 17:15:11 -0500
Tubject:        Re: SHK 6.0873 Re: Desdemona's Death
 
One interesting resonance of Desdemona's death, if it is bloodless, would be
the clean sheets.  In the Renaissance, the consummation of a marriage would
often be "announced" by hanging the blood-spotted sheets for a village to see
(this would prove both the virility of the man and the virginity of the bride).
 It is then a tragic irony that Othello kills his pure bride, instead of making
love with her, on the very bed that should be bloody.  If his manner of killing
her is with a pillow, it underlines his emasculation, since to envelope with a
pillow resembles female sexual attack, rather than masculine stabbing.  This is
quite a reversal for a warrior such as Othello.  So on the night of
consummation, things are consumed, inverted, tragically misunderstood.  While
Othello is aware of none of this, we can, in retrospect, see a web of tragic
irony.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Susan Mather <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 6 Nov 1995 17:19:27 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0873  Re: Desdemona's Death
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0873  Re: Desdemona's Death
 
Today I was talking to someone about this thing about Desdemona--what about--he
broke her neck?  Could very well be since he didn't want to spill her blood.  I
recently saw the Miller version with Hopkins/Hoskins.  I don't think that this
action at the end was clear either way.
 

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