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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: July ::
Re: Poems; Stewart; Othello's Age
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0783.  Tuesday, 22 July 1997.

[1]     From:   Skip Nicholson <
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        Date:   Sunday, 20 Jul 1997 10:35:15 -0700
        Subj:   Re: The Poems

[2]     From:   Chuck G. Peeren <
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        Date:   Monday, 21 Jul 1997 08:30:32 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0758 RE: PATRICK STEWART AS OTHELLO

[3]     From:   Ed Peschko <
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        Date:   Monday, 21 Jul 1997 11:19:18 -0600 (MDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0780  Re: Patrick Stewart

[4]     From:   Syd Kasten <
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        Date:   Monday, 21 Jul 1997 23:07:42 +0300 (IDT)
        Subj:   SHK 8.0758  Re: Othello's Age


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Skip Nicholson <
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Date:           Sunday, 20 Jul 1997 10:35:15 -0700
Subject:        Re: The Poems

The site Stephen Windle wisely gives for Shakespeare's poems has an
extra "e" in the address. The URL should read
http://www.ludweb.com/poetry . Mr. Windle's standards seem awfully high
if he gives this site a rating of "fairly decent." I think most of us
would go much higher. Take a look and decide. It includes not only the
sonnets but all the poetry, and the sonnets are searchable. The
enigmatic crest of the "ludweb" is worth exploring as well.

Skip Nicholson
Just north of Escondido, California

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chuck G. Peeren <
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Date:           Monday, 21 Jul 1997 08:30:32 EDT
Subject: 8.0758 RE: PATRICK STEWART AS OTHELLO
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0758 RE: PATRICK STEWART AS OTHELLO

Further to the conversation of Patrick Stewart as Othello I personally
would love to see it. I admire Mr Stewart as one of our great
contemporary actors. Having said that I do think that the role reversal
convention which would allow him to assume the role of Othello was
indeed contrived for that purpose.

Given that race being quite the charged issue it is in the U.S.

I have a couple of concerns with the execution of this convention:

The first, please excuse the pun, would not the racial aspects of the
production easily over shadow the other, what I feel are, the more
intriguing psychological aspects of  the production?

Second what do you do about Iago? Portrayed by a black man to a white
man's Othello would that not play to the stereo typical view of the
U.S.  black and be as a consequence a bit of a turn off?

  chuck

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Peschko <
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Date:           Monday, 21 Jul 1997 11:19:18 -0600 (MDT)
Subject: 8.0780  Re: Patrick Stewart
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0780  Re: Patrick Stewart

> Stewart also played Sejanus in the I CLAUDIUS series, and an
> alien-possessed psychiatrist in Tobe Hooper's LIFEFORCE (interalia).

And a nasty Sejanus he was too! Next to Livia, probably the nastiest
character in the whole series ( and there were plenty of them in that
series...)

I seem to remember him being Claudius in the BBC production of Hamlet,
as well.

Ed

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Syd Kasten <
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Date:           Monday, 21 Jul 1997 23:07:42 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Re: Othello's Age
Comment:        SHK 8.0758  Re: Othello's Age

On Wednesday, 16 Jul 1997 (SHK 8.0758) James Marino speculated on
Othello's age, implying that Othello was "at least as old as her father"
and that this was one of the reasons for his proneness to suspicion.
This is an interesting idea, but on the other hand, when Brabantio comes
to arrest Othello the latter tries to mollify him with "Good signior,
you shall more command with *years*, than with your weapons."  Marino
invokes Brabantio's "...in spite of nature, of years..." to support the
idea of Othello's advanced age.  My understanding of these lines in the
trial is that they refer to Desdemona's qualities and that "years"
refers to her youth rather than to Othello's age.

One need not rely only on Othello's seniority to see a disparity in age
between Othello and Desdemona.  To my ear Desdemona is a faithful
rendition of an unfinished product, more girl than woman.  Her inability
to see in advance the effects that her words and actions will have on
others is as absolute as it is innocent.  Her banter is witty but not
particularly sophisticated.  She fell in love with Othello because of
his scary stories.  Her cajoling of Othello to see Cassio is like asking
for another candy: Who could refuse her "pretty please?". But her
question of Emilia - Are there women who actually do what Othello has
accused her of? - implies an innocence of life that is consistent with
her being either "intellectually challenged" or very young.  Fourteen
year old Juliet seems the height of sophistication in comparison.

In Jewish canon law a girl attains majority with respect to the right to
choose or refuse a marital partner at the age of 12 years and a day.  I
wonder what the situation was in that respect in Shakespeare's England
and in his Venice. Can a case be made that Desdemona was at the time of
her elopment younger then the local age of majority,(Otherwise Brabantio
would not have had a case to put before the duke), that B. could have
insisted on her return home but chose not to out of anger or out of
inability to refuse his daughter anything she wanted (or both), and that
during the bulk of the play the relationship beween Othello and
Desdemona, though termed "marriage", was actually the state of
betrothal. Emilia, at the outset of the unpinning scene, expresses
surprise (my edition has an exclamation mark) to hear that Othello left
orders for her to be dismissed.  The ritual dressing of Desdemona
suggests to me the preparation of a bride.  We have no prior scene or
statement to hint that consummation has ever taken place.  Could
Desdemona's solemnity be due, not to a foreboding of death but to a
consciousness of her impending change of state to womanhood?  Is the
tragedy not merely that she died violently and young but that she died a
virgin and that the consummation of the love between Othello and
Desdemona was death?

Best wishes,
Syd Kasten
Jerusalem
 

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