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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: May ::
Re: Othello and Emilia
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1294  Thursday, 31 May 2001

[1]     From:   Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 30 May 2001 10:53:29 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1267 Re: Othello and Emilia

[2]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 30 May 2001 12:26:00 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1267 Re: Othello and Emilia

[3]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 30 May 2001 18:15:21 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1256 Othello and Emelia

[4]     From:   Susan St. John <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 30 May 2001 18:48:09 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1267 Re: Othello and Emilia

[5]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Thursday, 31 May 2001 00:08:26 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1267 Re: Othello and Emilia


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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Date:           Wednesday, 30 May 2001 10:53:29 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 12.1267 Re: Othello and Emilia
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1267 Re: Othello and Emilia

Susan St. John's query on the possibility of a dalliance between Othello
and Emilia received six excellent, thoughtful responses.

Just a couple of thoughts:

Abigail Quart astutely points out that

> I have always thought that Iago's little monologs
> are spin rehearsals.
> He is working out the story he will tell the public
> if he ever has to
> answer a question.

and that Iago is

> daring you to spot the lie.

Precisely.  I have always thought the most open hint of this that we
receive is I.i.65: "I am not what I am."  (Rather like the logic-class
conundrum: IF we know that everything Person X says is a lie, what do we
do when Person X says, "I am lying.")

Also...Iago has already demonstrated that he KNOWS the malevolent power
that even the insinuation of a black man and a white woman engaging each
other sexually can have on the racist white male psyche.  He tells
Roderigo to "Call up her father. / Rouse him, make after him, poison his
delight..." (I.i.67-68).  Roderigo proves himself a wimpy poisoner of
Brabantio's "delight," so Iago steps in with "an old black ram / Is
tupping your white ewe"  (88-89)  This is a chilling forerunner of how
lynch mobs often worked in the American South.  Frequently all it
required was for one "Iago" type to start the rumor that a black man --
ANY black man -- had had sex with a white woman -- ANY white woman.

I have no particular desire to delve into the psychopathology of this
virulent and racist form of cuckold anxiety, but Iago certainly
understands how it works.  It may be possible that his soliloquizing on
an Othello-Emilia liaison being "thought abroad" (iii.387) is the
psychological equivalent of throwing gasoline on flames: he hates
Othello, *knows* he hates Othello, but wants to make himself hate
Othello even more so as to better power the plan to come.

Cheers,
Karen Peterson

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Wednesday, 30 May 2001 12:26:00 -0700
Subject: 12.1267 Re: Othello and Emilia
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1267 Re: Othello and Emilia

Bruce Young writes, in a posting that I very much enjoyed:

>But what Iago says also fits with his tendency elsewhere in the play to
>make sordid accusations and imagine the worst of others.  Besides waking
>Desdemona's father with gross images of the young couple's lovemaking
>and telling Roderigo that his-and Othello's and Desdemona's-love is
>nothing more than lust (1.3.333-52), Iago is negative and cynical about
>women in general.  He makes this clear in Act 2, scene 1.

I'm wondering if this might be part of the reason that he has a
reputation for honesty?  Cynicism often gets confused with "saying it
like it is".  Is Kent (as Caius) ultra-honest, as he avers, or just
boorish, as Cornwall claims?

There is, of course, another reason, in that ancients were chosen for
their honesty.

Cheers,
Se

 

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