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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: February ::
Re: Shakespeare's Thought
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0219  Wednesday, 2 February 2000.

[1]     From:   Ed Taft <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 01 Feb 2000 09:57:24 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Shakespeare's Thought

[2]     From:   Abdulla Al-Dabbagh <
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        Date:   Wed, 2 Feb 2000 01:17:09 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0213 Re: Shakespeare's Thought


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <
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Date:           Tuesday, 01 Feb 2000 09:57:24 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Shakespeare's Thought

Kezia Vanmeter Sproat offers the view that "[Othello] is among the top
five works of anti-misogynist art ever produced, one of the greatest of
feminist works." Without getting into a rating game, I second the
general thrust of Kezia's comment. Careful readers have noticed for some
time now that the main male characters in Othello all tend to classify
women as either virgins or whores, and this perceptual lens is one of
the main things that Iago manipulates in order to manipulate Othello
himself.  Just before her death, Desdemona remarks, "O, these men, these
men." She knows more than she says, and Shakespeare knows what she
knows.

--Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Abdulla Al-Dabbagh <
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 >
Date:           Wed, 2 Feb 2000 01:17:09 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 11.0213 Re: Shakespeare's Thought
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0213 Re: Shakespeare's Thought

>I think that to accuse someone, publically, on a
>list of respected
>scholars, of racism and a closed mind, without
>following the argument is
>"hoist with [your] own petard"-an example of "how a
>closed mind" will
>adopt the surface of a potentially inciting argument
>to his own
>detriment.  It is you who are not demonstrating a
>"truly open, humanist mind."

> Judy Craig

You are right, Judy, and my deepest apologies to you and to anyone else
on the List whom may have felt offended. Your reading of the play, in
the light of your previous post  from which I will quote below, is one
with which I totally agree:

"I think the play only makes sense if they purely loved each other as
first-time lovers with real passion and trust that they "knew" each
other in the Biblical sense.  Othello was decimated that his pure wife
whom he loved before everything in the world was unfaithful; he lacked
the experience in the manipulative world of duplicitous white men to see
how her trust was manipulated and fell victim to the plots of lesser
men.  Hence his suicide. To say that Othello cannot "know" his wife
until she becomes an adulteress in his eyes is to invalidate any great
marriage relationship between passionate, first-time lovers."

This, if I may say so, couldn't have been better put.  It is also a
perspective that you don't find in the "conventional" (dare I say,
prejudiced) reading of the play, certainly not in the notorious examples
of early 20th century criticism , as in the essays of Eliot or Leavis
who seem simply unable to "take" Othello and even Auden, who keeps
insisting that Iago is the real "hero" of the whole thing. Interestingly
enough, there is a very similar Flaw in 20th centruy criticism with
regard to Cleopatra where the conventional critical wisdom simply adopts
the sexist attitudes and perspective of the Roman male characters
towards Cleopatra, forgetting (or wanting to forget) that these are NOT
Shakespeare's position - but that's another story. I am sorry, and I do
hope that you harbour no hard feelings.

Apologetically, Abdulla
 

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