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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: August ::
Re: Genesis Metaphor; Jonson/Florio; Teaching *Lr.*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0629.  Monday, 21 August 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Chris Stroffolino <LS0796@ALBNYVMS.BITNET>
        Date:   Sunday, 20 Aug 1995 02:02:34 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0628  Q: The Genesis Metaphor in *Othello*
 
(2)     From:   David Crosby <
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        Date:   Sunday, 20 Aug 1995 10:38:06 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0628 Q: The Genesis Metaphor in *Othello*
 
(3)     From:   Helen Ostovich <
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        Date:   Sunday, 20 Aug 1995 11:51:56 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Jonson and Florio; OTHELLO
 
(4)     From:   Dale Lyles <
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        Date:   Monday, 21 Aug 1995 09:34:23 -0400
        Subj:   Re: Teaching LEAR
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Stroffolino <LS0796@ALBNYVMS.BITNET>
Date:           Sunday, 20 Aug 1995 02:02:34 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0628  Q: The Genesis Metaphor in *Othello*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0628  Q: The Genesis Metaphor in *Othello*
 
Dear Amy Hughes---
 
The problem with the genesis allegory is that snake-IAGO is married to
Emilia....what do you do with her in the play? Would she get lost in the
shuffle of allegory? Considering that she has one of the most moving speeches
in the play, and has significant encounters with all three of the other
principals, your TRIANGLE reading seems somewhat reductive....I don't have any
alternative allegorical suggestions at present. And the idea of Desdemona
MAKING othello seems to have possibilities, but one doesn't need to bring in
eden, etc--to show this----chris stroffolino
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Crosby <
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Date:           Sunday, 20 Aug 1995 10:38:06 -0400
Subject: 6.0628 Q: The Genesis Metaphor in *Othello*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0628 Q: The Genesis Metaphor in *Othello*
 
Amy,
 
Your insight about the genesis metaphor is useful so long as it stimulates
_your_ thinking about the dynamics of Othello, but, as with most metaphors,
when pushed too far it is likely to lead you into blind alleys.
 
In Genesis, of course, Eve's role is to fall for the serpent's temptation and
urge Adam's participation in the "original sin."  When Othello succumbs to
Iago's insinuations, he becomes an avenging angel, an agent of justice (like a
mistaken Hamlet).  Desdemona, unlike Adam, utterly rejects the propostion that
Iago has planted in Othello's mind.
 
I think you are essentially right that Desdemona is strong rather than weak:
she confronts authority with the same clever rhetoric and decisive action as
Rosalind, Juliet, Portia, Viola, and Cordelia. I think Iago is less the serpent
of Genesis than the Vice of the early modern morality plays, a character who
manifests great pleasure in lies and treachery (note that he betrays not only
Othello but also Roderigo, Cassio, Amelia, and Desdemona).  He offers not
forbidden knowledge, but pure deception.
 
But, by all means, carry on, especially with the design possibilities.  Just
don't let it overwhelm the production.
 
Good luck.
David Crosby <
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Lorman, MS
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Helen Ostovich <
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Date:           Sunday, 20 Aug 1995 11:51:56 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Jonson and Florio; OTHELLO
 
Re:  Bob Leslie's query.  Jonson clearly was familiar with Florio's
Italian-English dictionary in 1599 when he came up with names for the
characters in _Every Man Out of his Humour_.  The probability is that he was
personally familiar with Florio too.
 
Re:  Amy Hughes' OTHELLO.  I love it!  I have always argued that Desdemona is a
strong character, not given to the mealy-mouthed conventions of other Venetians
or the Venetianized Othello of Act 1. Wish I could see the performance.  Good
luck.
 
Helen Ostovich
Department of English / Editor, _REED Newsletter_
McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada  L8S 4L9
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dale Lyles <
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Date:           Monday, 21 Aug 1995 09:34:23 -0400
Subject:        Re: Teaching LEAR
 
Part of the reason teenagers are more in tune with R&J is that they almost all
empathize with the lovers.  What I've done with LEAR is to ask students to
examine their empathy and how the playwright is directing it.  With whom are we
*supposed* to empathize?  Are there crosscurrents in play?
 
Mostly, they find that they are supposed to focus on Lear and Cordelia, but
that Lear's behavior makes it extremely difficult not to side with Regan and
Goneril for the first half of the play.  Having admitted that the old man is a
difficult case, they are then appalled at the extent of R & G's cruelty and of
Lear's fall.  Their sense of fair play is engaged: "Yes, he was a cranky,
selfish old man, BUT..."
 
And then Cordelia's cold, prim love is redeemed by her selfless going to battle
for the old man.
 
Also, students have enjoyed tracking the images of nothing, eyes, and animals.
They begin to sense the vast structure of the play.
 
Dale Lyles
 

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