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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: June ::
Re: Harold Bloom on Othello
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1265  Tuesday, 24 June 2003

[1]     From:   Frank Whigham <
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        Date:   Monday, 23 Jun 2003 12:17:14 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1261 Harold Bloom on Othello

[2]     From:   Richard Burt <
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        Date:   Monday, 23 Jun 2003 13:34:08 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1261 Harold Bloom on Othello

[3]     From:   Michael Shurgot <
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        Date:   Monday, 23 Jun 2003 11:23:15 -0700
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.1261 Harold Bloom on Othello

[4]     From:   Chris Stroffolino <
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        Date:   Monday, 23 Jun 2003 11:49:15 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1261 Harold Bloom on Othello

[5]     From:   Ros King <
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        Date:   Monday, 23 Jun 2003 16:09:57 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1261 Harold Bloom on Othello


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Frank Whigham <
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Date:           Monday, 23 Jun 2003 12:17:14 -0500
Subject: 14.1261 Harold Bloom on Othello
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1261 Harold Bloom on Othello

For a strong contrary argument that engages this question, see

Sexual Anxiety and the Male Order of Things in Othello By: Snow, Edward
A.; English Literary Renaissance, 1980; 10: 384-412.

Frank Whigham

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Burt <
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Date:           Monday, 23 Jun 2003 13:34:08 -0400
Subject: 14.1261 Harold Bloom on Othello
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1261 Harold Bloom on Othello

Bloom's idea is not at all novel.  The question of consummation has been
debated for years.  See Edward Snow's article on the play (he argues
that they do consummate the marriage and links the "spotted"
handkerchief, to the spots on the wedding sheets) in ELR (back in the
early 1980s).  See also Stanley Cavell's The Claim of Reason and his
Disowning Knowledge in Seven Plays of Shakespeare and Katherine Maus's
discussion in Inwardness and theater in the English Renaissance.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Shurgot <
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Date:           Monday, 23 Jun 2003 11:23:15 -0700
Subject: 14.1261 Harold Bloom on Othello
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.1261 Harold Bloom on Othello

Dear Colleagues:

As a reply to Richard Gyde's query, I argued that Othello and Desdemona
did not consummate their marriage in my essay "Othello's Jealousy and
the 'Gate of Hell'" in The Upstart Crow (12) 1992. Michael Neill also
investigates this question in his brilliant essay "Unproper Beds: Race,
Adultery, and the Hideous in Othello," Shakespeare Quarterly 40 (Winter,
1989). I have not read Neill's essay in several years, but I believe
that he disagrees with the argument that Othello and Desdemona have not
consummated their marriage. I think the main point here is that Bloom's
argument is not "novel." Neill includes references to several other
essays which also address this question about the play.

Cheers,
Michael Shurgot

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Stroffolino <
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Date:           Monday, 23 Jun 2003 11:49:15 +0000
Subject: 14.1261 Harold Bloom on Othello
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1261 Harold Bloom on Othello

Hi--

Yes, I read Bloom's argument too.

Instead of offering my own opinions on this right now, I'd rather turn
the question back on you if you don't mind.

I guess my first question would be--what difference would it make
whether she died a virgin or not? (this is not a rhetorical question).
Why would that be important? (or is it important?)

Second, what evidence on either side can be offered?

It seems to me, that like many things in Shakespeare (most notably,
"what did Gertrude know?" in HAMLET), the question of consummation is
purposely left a mystery.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ros King <
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Date:           Monday, 23 Jun 2003 16:09:57 EDT
Subject: 14.1261 Harold Bloom on Othello
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1261 Harold Bloom on Othello

After the brawl on the court of guard, husband and wife exit bedward.
What else do we suppose they are going to do? If Shakespeare wanted us
to think that they hadn't, it would be a simple matter for a
conversation between Emilia and Desdemona to reveal the fact. As it is,
Desdemona's confident teasing demands of her husband the morning after
suggests to me, at any rate, that it was a rather good night.

Best,
Ros

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