2002

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1314  Tuesday, 14 May 2002

From:           Fran Teague <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 13 May 2002 11:38:08 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 13.1280 Re: Desdemona
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1280 Re: Desdemona

Paula Vogel's play DESDEMONA makes the argument that even were every
false charge that Iago makes true, even "if the general camp, / Pioners
and all, had tasted her sweet body," one cannot justify her murder.
Culpability is not the point: it simply doesn't matter whether Othello
finds her guilty, not guilty, or even very irritating.

Now Vogel is, of course, using a late 20th-century ethical system that
regards women as human beings. Whether Shakespeare or any of his
contemporaries felt that way is, of course, another matter. And in any
case, one might usefully ask who or what "Desdemona" is: a collection of
black marks on a white page, a boy in a dress, a Venetian woman, or an
innocent victim (to quote R. S. White). I do wonder whether the question
about culpability is about a person, a character, a role, or even
whether it's all right to kill a woman because she's doing something you
don't like.

Fran Teague <http://www.arches.uga.edu/~fteague>

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