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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: June ::
Re: Othello and Emilia
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1357  Monday, 4 June 2001

From:           Adrian Kiernander <
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Date:           Monday, 04 Jun 2001 12:01:05 +1000
Subject: 12.1314 Re: Othello and Emilia
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1314 Re: Othello and Emilia

Peter Hadorn writes:

>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"?

If Fortinbras's "his" can, with a simple gesture, refer to the dead
Claudius, then Othello's "This is a subtle whore" can refer not to
Emilia, who has just left the stage, but to the character who is now
entering, Desdemona. I am remembering a production where Desdemona
entered at that point and immediately knelt to Othello on "What is your
pleasure?", thus reinforcing his suspicions. (It also made his following
action on "Let me see your eyes: look in my face" physically bigger and
much more threatening and disturbing. Towering over her, he grabbed her
head and twisted it upward so that he could look down into her eyes.)

Adrian Kiernander

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