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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: June ::
Re: Othello and Emilia
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1314  Friday, 1 June 2001

[1]     From:   Stuart Manger <
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        Date:   Thursday, 31 May 2001 16:14:57 +0100
        Subj:   SHK 12.1294 Re: Othello and Emilia

[2]     From:   Peter Hadorn <
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        Date:   Thursday, 31 May 2001 12:01:11 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 12.1294 Re: Othello and Emilia

[3]     From:   Peter Hadorn <
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        Date:   Thursday, 31 May 2001 12:01:11 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 12.1294 Re: Othello and Emilia


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stuart Manger <
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Date:           Thursday, 31 May 2001 16:14:57 +0100
Subject: Re: Othello and Emilia
Comment:        SHK 12.1294 Re: Othello and Emilia

To Susan St John: 'put money in they purse' etc etc

Probably Iago says it so many times [a] because he thinks Roderigo is as
thick as two short planks and Iago needs him to be well-focused on what
he IAGO wants rather than Rod's own desires / dangerously
individualistic impulses, [b] Shak is hammering the idea that this is
what Iago thinks of and how he values(?) human nature even a supposed
friend? [c] that in the end, Roderigo actually shows more action than
Iago can have imagined, and [d] it makes Iago's knifing him in the dark
even more appallingly cold-blooded and duplicitous.  Secondly, if it has
its sexual significance, then he is encouraging Roderigo to stoke up his
sexual 'fire' so that he will be that much easier to exploit, and Iago
can keep suggesting to all through this nasty innuedndo that Desdemona
is an easy 'lay', a Venetian whore rather than a lady, and you 'pay' for
whores.

To Larry Weiz:

I think you know I meant *AN* Olivier or a Scofield, or an Antony
Hopkins- i.e. a white actor of similarly consummate powers vs a black
actor of not the same effulgence / experience. Which actor for the show?

Stuart Manger

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Hadorn <
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Date:           Thursday, 31 May 2001 12:01:11 -0500
Subject: 12.1294 Re: Othello and Emilia
Comment:        RE: SHK 12.1294 Re: Othello and Emilia

Regarding whether or not Othello and Emilia had a dalliance is a
discussion the students always enjoy.  I usually begin with what has
already been discussed regarding the trustworthiness of the reasons Iago
gives.  I also add a couple of other reasons that might be lurking
between the lines. One that I don't take very seriously is that Iago
himself is in love with Desdemona (cf. 2.1.278).  The other which I find
more interesting is that Iago is in love with Othello himself.  The
homoerotic underpinnings of many of his lines (specifically the way he
describes "Cassio's Dream") cause the class and I to look a little more
closely at Iago lines and the idea of attraction to/ repulsion to the
"Other," particularly at what Iago himself has to say on the matter.  I
recount this only to emphasize the point that Shakespeare seems
intentionally to obscure motivation and "true" character in this play
(something he does so well in all his plays).

But to get back to Othello and Emilia.  I don't think anyone in this
thread has noted two other speeches on the issue.  One is in the
exchange between Desdemona and Emilia in 4.3 where Emilia says, "Ud's
pity, who would not make her husband a cuckold to make him a monarch?"
(73-75).  Did she sleep with Othello so that Iago might get the position
that went to Cassio?

The more interesting one occurs in 4.2 when Othello says this about
Emilia: "This is a subtle whore,/ A closet lock and key of villainous
secrets,/ And yet she'll kneel and pray--I ha' seen her do't" (22-24).
When, I ask my class, has Othello been in a position to see Emilia keep
"villainous secrets"?

Food for thought.

Peter Hadorn

Subject: 12.1294 Re: Othello and Emilia
Comment: Re: SHK 12.1294 Re: Othello and Emilia
Date: Thursday, 31 May 2001 19:36:07 -0700
From: "Susan St. John" <
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Organization: SMCA
To: 
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> From:           Clifford Stetner <
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>
>
> I'm responding to this query under the assumption that it is too well
> written to be a veiled attempt to shortcut a student essay.

Thank you for the benefit of the doubt!  I am a high school drama
teacher
working on a masters in Interdisciplinary Studies about to begin a
playwriting course in June.  We were asked to come to the class having
read
Hamlet, Othello, Hedda Gabler, Doll's House, Death of a Salesman and a
play
by the teacher, Y York, who is best known for her children's theatre
plays,
most especially Afternoon of the Elves (I believe that's the title).

I was most assuredly NOT trying to get a quick answer for a class
essay...I
truly was confused and curious.  I would like to thank all of the list
members who responded so eloquently.  I think I have a much better
handle on
Iago now.  I am probably going to use this play in class with my
advanced
actors next fall...there are some wonderful moments they can explore
with
these complex characters.

Thakn you all,
Susan.

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