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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: February ::
Re: green-eyed monster
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0374  Thursday, 15 February 2001

[1]     From:   Carol Barton <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 14 Feb 2001 14:46:04 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0369 green-eyed monster

[2]     From:   Charles Frey <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 14 Feb 2001 12:17:01 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0369 green-eyed monster

[3]     From:   Hannibal Hamlin <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 14 Feb 2001 15:56:10 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0369 green-eyed monster

[4]     From:   Tom Bishop <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 14 Feb 2001 16:36:46 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0369 green-eyed monster

[5]     From:   Mary Bess Whidden <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 14 Feb 2001 14:39:44 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0369 green-eyed monster

[6]     From:   Kezia Sproat <
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        Date:   Thursday, 15 Feb 2001 00:35:13 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0369 green-eyed monster

[7]     From:   Marti Markus <
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        Date:   Thursday, 15 Feb 2001 07:27:29 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0369 green-eyed monster

[8]     From:   Werner Broennimann <
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        Date:   Thursday, 15 Feb 2001 10:09:41 +0000
        Subj:   green-eyed monster


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carol Barton <
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Date:           Wednesday, 14 Feb 2001 14:46:04 -0500
Subject: 12.0369 green-eyed monster
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0369 green-eyed monster

Graham Bradshaw asks:

>Can anyone help with the idea of jealousy as a "green-eyed monster"?  I
>may have missed something, and I can't even find a copy of the old
>Variorum of Othello. I can at least say how far I've got, although I
>doubt that it's far enough.

I think, Graham, that it means nothing more than "green" (as in "sick")
with envy.

If you have ever seen a young boy after his first clandestine
rendez-vous with a cigarette, you will know where the "greenness"
(physiological, not experiential) comes from. It has nothing to do with
the green of the Green Man, nor with the inexperience of the green girl.
It is jealousy, greenish and livid -- and it's not easy bein' green.

Best to all,
Carol Barton
with jealousy.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Charles Frey <
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Date:           Wednesday, 14 Feb 2001 12:17:01 -0800
Subject: 12.0369 green-eyed monster
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0369 green-eyed monster

Re "green-eyed" see Schmidt's lexicon?

Charlie Frey

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hannibal Hamlin <
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Date:           Wednesday, 14 Feb 2001 15:56:10 -0500
Subject: 12.0369 green-eyed monster
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0369 green-eyed monster

I haven't much to say on "greenness" per se, but as for the matter of
eyes, it seems to me that Othello's emphasis on "ocular proof" and the
need to see reflects his own naivety about jealousy.  It is after all
through his ear that Iago pours his poison (as it is though her ear,
ironically, that Othello wooes Desdemona).  By the time Othello is
storming about the need for visual confirmation, he is already
convinced.  It is, moreover, Iago who uses the phrase "green-eyed
monster," and might this not be a deflection away from the real monster,
"green-tongued" or "-eared"?  Could the green-eyed monster, if it is (or
is in) Othello, be "green" in the sense of naive, in the sense Iago uses
it in 2.1.244 -- "those requisites in him that folly and green minds
look after."  On the other hand, whose mind is it that is "green" here?
Not Cassio's, who seems the object of this looking.  From Roderigo's
perspective, I suppose, it is Desdemona's, who in her immaturity will
naturally be attracted to such as Cassio.  From Iago's perspective,
though, is this perhaps Othello's "green mind," immature in some ways,
but also, once again, susceptible to jealousy of such a one as Cassio
("handsome, young, etc.")?  Might the later "greenness" of Othello's
eyes (if indeed this monster is within him, looking out) be a sign of
their naivety?  The eyes' over-confidence in the importance of ocular
proof?

Hannibal Hamlin

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Bishop <
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Date:           Wednesday, 14 Feb 2001 16:36:46 -0500
Subject: 12.0369 green-eyed monster
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0369 green-eyed monster

On the green-eyed monster:

Here is Golding's translation of Ovid, Metam.

There saw she Envie sit within fast gnawing on the flesh
        Of Snakes and Todes, the filthie foode that keepes hir vices fresh.
            It lothde hir to beholde the sight. Anon the Elfe arose
            And left the gnawed Adders flesh, and slouthfully she goes
            With lumpish laysure like a Snayle, and when she saw the
face
            Of Pallas and hir faire attire adournde with heavenly grace,
        She gave a sigh, a sorie sigh, from bottome of hir heart.
            Hir lippes were pale, hir cheekes were wan, and all hir face
was swart:
        Hir bodie leane as any Rake. She looked eke askew.
            Hir teeth were furde with filth and drosse, hir gums were
waryish blew.
        The working of hir festered gall had made hir stomacke greene.
           (...         livent rubigine dentes, pectora felle virent,
lingua est suffusa veneno)

The portrait is also behind Spenser's picture of Envie in the House of
Pride (FQ 1.4), and of Malbecco-as-Gealosie at the end of FQ 3.10.

The green of Envy seems to be esp. associated with biliousness and
excess of nasty green internal humours.  Shakespeare looks to have fused
this with the predominantly visual aspect of the etymology to produce
green eyes, that is bilious eyes.  Othello's later image of the "cistern
for foul toads", though in his case inflected sexually, seems to look
back directly to the traditional mythography of Envy, projecting the
experience of his own Envy-stricken and bile-churned guts ("there where
I have garnered up my heart", but the "there" is ambiguous) onto
Desdemona's body, trying no doubt thereby to expropriate and "discard"
it "thence". The presence of a humoral theory in the background is also
telegraphed in the same passage ("Turn thy complexion there"), as is the
distinctly hellish scene of Envy's Cave in Ovid ("I here look grim as
hell"), which may even pick up the language of blackness in the
description of Ovid's Envy ("all hir face was swart") and reinterpret
it, as this part of the play does all such languages. Through Ovidian
eyes, is Othello in danger of metamorphosing INTO Envy at this point in
the play, like Malbecco?

Tom

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mary Bess Whidden <
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Date:           Wednesday, 14 Feb 2001 14:39:44 -0700
Subject: 12.0369 green-eyed monster
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0369 green-eyed monster

because they are not blue?  My apologies, Prof. Cook.  Mary Bess Whidden

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kezia Sproat <
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Date:           Thursday, 15 Feb 2001 00:35:13 EST
Subject: 12.0369 green-eyed monster
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0369 green-eyed monster

You might try looking at the "humours," the system of psychology
predominant in Shakespeare's time. Colors are associated with body
fluids, associated with behavior, with elements, etc. As in Burton's
Anatomy of Melancholy. I'm rusty on it.

Kezia Sproat

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marti Markus <
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Date:           Thursday, 15 Feb 2001 07:27:29 +0100
Subject: 12.0369 green-eyed monster
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0369 green-eyed monster

> From:           Graham Bradshaw <
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> Can anyone help with the idea of jealousy as a "green-eyed monster"?
> [...]
>
> I am supposing that the eyes, not the greenness, are primary. In other
> words, I'm supposing that to be sexually "jealous" is NOT unrelated to
> being "jealous" in the other familiar and Shakespearean sense: being
> vigilantly watchful, especially in relation to other people's interests.

"green" seems to refer to the sharpness of the visual sense: "green
eyes" = "sharp eyes",  "an eagle's eyes":  Romeo and Juliet,
III.5.221ff: "An eagle has not so green, so quick, so fair an eye As
Paris has"; cf. Balz Engler's note in his bilingual edition of Othello
(englisch-deutsche Studienausgabe) and Ingeborg Heine's note to
III.3.110: "green-eyed jealousy", in her edition of The Merchant of
Venice (englisch-deutsche Studienausgabe) . Similar passage: Two Noble
Kinsmen, V.1.144

Markus Marti
University of Basel
http://www.unibas.ch/shine/home.html

[8]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Werner Broennimann <
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Date:           Thursday, 15 Feb 2001 10:09:41 +0000
Subject:        green-eyed monster

Balz Engler's note in his bilingual Othello edition (T

 

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