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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: August ::
Re: *Othello*; Edgar; Salvini; Graduate Programs
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0643.  Friday, 25 August 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Amy E. Hughes <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Aug 1995 21:57:05 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   *Genderothello*
 
(2)     From:   Chris Stroffolino <
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        Date:   Thursday, 24 Aug 1995 03:50:28 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0618  Re: Edgar
 
(3)     From:   Luc Borot <
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        Date:   Thursday, 24 Aug 1995 13:43:32 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0638  Re: Salvini
 
(4)     From:   Don Foster <
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        Date:   Thursday, 24 Aug 1995 16:00:58 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0637  Re: Graduate Programs
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Amy E. Hughes <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Aug 1995 21:57:05 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        *Genderothello*
 
Thank you to all of the wonderful minds who gave me input on my Genesis
observations of OTHELLO. Warmly.
 
The outcome of the criticism I received in my personal e-mailbox was similar:
parts of the Eden story are apparent in the play, but not everything is
consistent. Many agreed that Desdemona is not neccessarily a weak character but
a woman who asserts herself more than one might gleen from many productions of
the past. One person could see a parallel between Genesis and OTHELLO, but
asked, "Where does Emilia fit in?" A very good question.
 
These SHAKSPERians ultimately reminded me what interested me about the play in
the first place: its women. A close friend always tells me, "If you have lost
something, you should go back to the place you thought it was at least three
times." I have witnessed how this rule applies not only to wayward objects, but
also to directorial concepts!
 
Cassio is the character that first spurred this idea, with help from Bianca. I
had always pictured him (and I believe he is depicted) as an Adonis, a
Lancelot, the good guy on the white horse. When I studied his conversations
with other male "buddies," not to mention his mistreatment of a pining and
fairly sweet Bianca, this vision began to crumble (and gratefully so!). As I
studied, I began to see that Othello, Iago, *and* Cassio were very alike,
locked in their ideals of soldiership, muchismo, and "the male order." Iago and
Cassio especially, and Othello similarly, objectify their mates and expect
specific modes of behavior.
 
The women are a strong group, though. Desdemona, as we discussed, is her own
person. Emilia, with her acidic tongue and bitter humor, is equally
independent. I think many critics have been too harsh on Bianca, and I see her
as a free Emilia: making her own way in the world, her only downfall being her
attachment to the one she loves. Her adoring words and pleas to Cassio -- in
spite of his mocking, disrespectful cohorts -- are full of life and truth.
 
There is a definite vacuum in all of this, however: Iago. The audience gains
access to the action by way of this villaine, and its view is inevitably taken
from him. His dramatic role as the bridge between spectator and spectacle must
be terribly important, and that is the hole in this argument.
 
Any comments on that?
 
Thanks for the loan of your ears!
 
Amy Hughes
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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Stroffolino <
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Date:           Thursday, 24 Aug 1995 03:50:28 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0618  Re: Edgar
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0618  Re: Edgar
 
When the discussion came up about EDGAR not revealing himself, the significance
of his earlier role-playing (as mad-tom, as the "peasant" that kills oswald)
was not addressed. I'm curious if anyone would care to offer a connection
between such disguises beyond the "outlaw" one on one level and the kind of
argument that is made for Hamlet, Hal and Rosalind's various disguises (that it
enables them to LEARN more). In re-reading this time around I realized how
ABSURD the riverside's footnotes claiming that Edgar's using the word "father"
immediately after the "jump" scene is NOT AN ATTEMPT to reveal his identity---
It seems to me that Edgar is trying to reveal himself at least from this point
on (if not before when he starts talking more like himself than mad tom--a
point his father catches on). The reason he doesn't, is that he's interrupted
first by LEAR's entrance, then by Oswald's-- but the second he's alone he
constantly seems to try to "pop the question" (well, revelation). I haven't
read enough Lear criticism to know if my insight here is a commonplace or not,
but I'm not interested in the insight as much as what others might think the
significance of this would be--and how it might alter the readings of Edgar's
disguise with Edmund later------chris stroffolino
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Luc Borot <
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Date:           Thursday, 24 Aug 1995 13:43:32 +0100
Subject: 6.0638  Re: Salvini
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0638  Re: Salvini
 
I'm a wee bit surprised that Salvini considered Shakespeare to have
consistently endeavoured to have his characters remain unchanged throughout his
plays (>ever rigidly observant to maintain his characters the same from
beginning to >end). Is there any evidence of the way he played Lear, if he did?
Doesn't Othello change more than a trifle? how could Salvini explain Gertrude's
evolution?
 
When I saw Jane Lapotaire play G to Branagh's Hamlet in A. Noble's 1993
production at Stratford upon A, she (and Noble) struck me as having adopted a
very evolutive conception of the character, which perfectly explained her
drinking from the cup in the final scene.
 
The very interesting text quoted by John Mucci just shows how varying
interpretations can be over time. I tend to prefer text-supported options,
which is why I support the colleagues who had rather preserve Time's speech in
WT: Time (whoever delivers the lines), speaks about everything the play is
about, and all kinds of audiences can be made to integrate this in their
understanding of a production. Can the ending be totally accounted for if Time
doesn't do his (or her) bit? Puzzling effects and consistency-creating effects
alike can be achieved through that speech, I'm sure.
 
                Yours,
                      Luc Borot <
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(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Foster <
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Date:           Thursday, 24 Aug 1995 16:00:58 +0100
Subject: 6.0637  Re: Graduate Programs
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0637  Re: Graduate Programs
 
re: Erika Lin's query about graduate programs.
 
I just want to second Rebecca Totaro's praise for the graduate program at UMass
Amherst, which has produced such extraordinarily fine scholars as Valerie
Traub.  Excellent faculty (both for teaching and research), excellent resources
(including *ELR*), and a wonderfully cordial department all around.
 
But Erika: Isn't a list of 32 programs (or 33, with UMass) casting your net
rather wide?  Perhaps you should begin by selecting those Shakespeare or Asian
Studies scholars with whom you'd most heartily wish to study, and then check
out their respective departments.
 
D. Foster
 

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