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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: March ::
Re: Desdemona's Guilt
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0334.  Monday, 10 March 1997.

[1]     From:   Virginia M. Byrne <
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        Date:   Saturday, 8 Mar 1997 10:40:10 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0326 Re: Desdemona's Guilt

[2]     From:   Kathy Acheson <
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        Date:   Sunday, 09 Mar 1997 18:05:58 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0326  Re: Desdemona's Guilt

[3]     From:   John Boni <
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        Date:   Saturday, 8 Mar 1997 14:38:29 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0326 Re: Desdemona's Guilt


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Virginia M. Byrne <
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Date:           Saturday, 8 Mar 1997 10:40:10 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.0326 Re: Desdemona's Guilt
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0326 Re: Desdemona's Guilt

Desdemona is an "abused" wife who no doubt feels it is her fault that OJ
killed her.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kathy Acheson <
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Date:           Sunday, 09 Mar 1997 18:05:58 +0000
Subject: 8.0326  Re: Desdemona's Guilt
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0326  Re: Desdemona's Guilt

It may be a mistake to see Des as a 'character'-maybe she's just there
to sop up everything else that happens, like Ophelia. But should we try
to do so, we might see her as acting out that transition between
dynastic and affective marriage, finding (in negotiations for
Cassio/power role + love with Othello/love role) that she has best of
both worlds-then, finding no support (all the guys, including Daddy, but
also Emilia), crumples: I'm not here anymore. We tend to assume that
social transitions, such as that between dynastic and affective marriage
in the aristocracy, occurred between generations, but it appears to have
been agonizingly acted out by many women of that period in much this
way.

Kathy Acheson

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Boni <
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Date:           Saturday, 8 Mar 1997 14:38:29 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 8.0326 Re: Desdemona's Guilt
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0326 Re: Desdemona's Guilt

That Desdemona rejected the "wealthy curled darlings of our nation,"  a
choice which baffles her father, testifies to her independence, as does
her narration (and Othello's) of the development of their love.  On the
other hand, when she is confronted by Othello in his righteous (but not
right) anger, she tells us, "I am a child to chiding."  In a sense, the
very strength and energy she admired in Othello the exotic warrior is
overwhelming in Othello the husband verbally assaulting her.  She turns
back to her Christian upbringing.  When Othello screams at her, "Are you
not a whore?"  She responds, "No, as I am a Christian"; and later, "No,
as I shall be saved,"  (My quotations from memory may be a bit off, but
they make the point.)  Imagine, if you will, Emilia responding to such a
falsehood.  As in so many of the women in Shakespeare's tragedies,
Desdemona is realized to evoke pathos but not heroism.  Finally, she is
in a situation which overwhelms her.

John M. Boni
 

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