Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0628. Saturday, 19 August 1995.
Date: Friday, 18 Aug 1995 20:15:04 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: The Genesis Metaphor in OTHELLO
I know I should buy a gun and shoot myself for this, but I am taking on the
task of directing OTHELLO.
Okay. I'll admit it is an exciting prospect. It is the play I have always
wanted to direct. It is comforting to know, also, that no matter how truly
horrible the production may become, I am still a student director (junior at
NYU/Undergrad Drama) making art in an academic context, so I can always cry
"inexperience" if I need an excuse. However, this is definitely not in my plan.
I expect it to be (as my mentor Louis Scheeder would say) FABulous.
So bear with me if I ask questions. Be my sounding board?
In my OTHELLO studies, hyperbolating on commentary I have read and research I
have done, I have come up with many ideas. The most current one may just be
amusing, but I find it an interesting parallel.
I have been experimenting with the idea of Othello in a weaker position than
Desdemona (his text is more subservient, especially in front of senate in Act
I, full of euphemisms; Desdemona's is not --- she seems almost brazen). In a
sense, Desdemona has the power to "make" Othello into a Venetian -- she is the
insider while he is the outsider. Who says that Desdemona has to be weak,
Thinking on the biblical comparison of God's statement to Moses, "I am that I
am" and Iago's, "I am not what I am" (as observed by E. Jones and others), I
experienced epiphany: can the Garden of Eden story in Genesis be a metaphor for
the play in production?
My reflections produced the following:
1) Desdemona is Adam, Othello is Eve. Desdemona "creates" Othello in many ways:
by way of marriage, she makes a domestic out of a soldier; Othello effectively
marries in Venice through her; more of an off-shoot, she makes him a victim of
Iago, since it seems to be the marriage that sparks Iago's arsenal of hate.
2) As loathe as I am to use the cliche, Iago is the snake; i.e., the serpent:
3) OTHELLO is, in many ways, a play about the danger of knowledge. My favorite
monologue in the play depends on this theme (III, iii, lines 351-364, "I had
been happy if the general camp,/Pioners, and all, had tasted her sweet body,/So
I had nothing *known*"). Eden's serpent is the bringer of forbidden knowledge.
This metaphor, I think, has possiblities in production terms (design, etc.),
but I know this post is long, and I will save them for later.
Are there any critics in print who have had similar revelations?