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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: March ::
Re: Othello
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0331  Monday 1 March 1999.

[1]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Friday, 26 Feb 1999 09:11:19 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0322 Re: Othello

[2]     From:   Brian Haylett <
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        Date:   Saturday, 27 Feb 1999 15:19:50 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0322 Re: Othello


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Friday, 26 Feb 1999 09:11:19 -0800
Subject: 10.0322 Re: Othello
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0322 Re: Othello

Peter Hadorn writes:

>I disagree.  I think Othello is very good at wooing young women.
>Consider the stories he tells to Desdemona.  They make him look like a
>hero and victim; i.e., someone to be admired and pitied.  Just something
>a foolish young girl would fall for.

Yes, though she had to ask him to woo her.  This isn't the work of one
of nature's pick-up artists.

Are we really expected to believe "that he saw the monsters that he says
he saw?"

Why not?  Elizabethan travel narratives were littered with such things.
I don't think we should expect that a fictional character would be
constructed based on what we now know.

In other words, he's very
>good at telling stories, particularly ones that serve his purpose.
>Consider what he says about the handkerchief.  He claims it has all
>these magical powers, but later admits that it was just some
>handkerchief his father had given to his mother (5.2.223-34).

Why couldn't his father give his mother a handkerchief with magical
powers?

>I'm reminded, too, of the wooing scene between Henry V and Katherine.
>He says to her that he is a soldier and not a lover, and that he is not
>good at speaking.  But if that play demonstrates anything it
>demonstrates that Harry is a master of words.  With Katherine, he claims
>that he is inept at speaking like a lover.  Yet his "ineptness" is
>endearing and is meant, I think, to woo us as much as Katherine.

Keep in mind that his ineptness is elicited by Katherine.  Every time he
gets off on a courtly tangent, comparing her to an angel or a goddess,
she drags him back forcefully.

In other words, Shakespeare's effective lovers and leaders may
manipulate language, but never very consciously.  There's an excessive
"saying", Levinas would say, an address and a surplus of the
interpersonal, that undergirds and undermines their manipulation of the
"said".

Cheers,
Se

 

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