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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: December ::
Footnotes in Bevington Othello?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.2096  Monday, 13 December 2004

[1]     From:   Philip Weller <
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        Date:   Friday, 10 Dec 2004 09:44:18 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.2081 Footnotes in Bevington Othello?

[2]     From:   John W. Kennedy <
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        Date:   Friday, 10 Dec 2004 14:31:49 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.2070 Footnotes in Bevington Othello?

[3]     From:   John Reed <
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        Date:   Saturday, 11 Dec 2004 15:19:54 -0800
        Subj:   Re: Footnotes in Bevington Othello


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Philip Weller <
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Date:           Friday, 10 Dec 2004 09:44:18 -0800
Subject: 15.2081 Footnotes in Bevington Othello?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.2081 Footnotes in Bevington Othello?

Please accept my apologies for imputing racism to David Bevington.

Also, in the comment about "made her," I'm sorry I didn't rely on
Bevington's 5th edition, instead of the revised 4th.

About Desdemona, I believe she was dropping hints, and that it was a
good thing.  If she was "half the wooer," then the answer to First
Senator's question, "Or came it by request and such fair question / As
soul to soul affordeth," is a resounding "YES."

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John W. Kennedy <
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Date:           Friday, 10 Dec 2004 14:31:49 -0500
Subject: 15.2070 Footnotes in Bevington Othello?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.2070 Footnotes in Bevington Othello?

Philip Weller <
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 >Teaching Othello again, I was once again struck by what I consider to be
 >the wrong-headedness of a pair of footnotes in Bevington's edition.
 >Othello says,
 >
 >My story being done
 >She gave me for my pains a world of sighs.
 >She wished that she had not heard it, yet she wished
 >That heaven had made her such a man.  She thanked me,
 >And bade me, if I had a friend that loved her,
 >I should but teach him how to tell my story,
 >And that would woo her.  Upon this hint I spake.
 >
 >Bevington's note on "made her" is "created her to be," despite the fact
 >that in Hardin Craig's edition, from which Bevington's is descended, the
 >note for "made her" is "made for her."
 >
 >Bevington's note on "hint" is "opportunity (Othello does not mean that
 >she was dropping hints),"  yet in the OED the very first citation for
 >"hint" as "a slight indication intended to be caught by the intelligent"
 >is "Upon this hint I spake."
 >
 >Taken together, Bevington's notes seem to indicate that he is determined
 >to adopt the opinion of Brabantio: Desdemona, a nice white girl, would
 >never come on to black Othello.

So (let me get this straight) you'd prefer that Othello, whose line,
after all, it is, would, in his own excuse, tell her father that
Desdemona had "come on to" him?

"Made for her" would be a distinctly forward thing for a nice /period/
girl to have intended, and a shameful thing for Othello to reveal if she
had let herself so slip. But I might accept "hint" on the principle it
would be too purely Victorian to assume that Desdemona's etiquette book
"says you mustn't hint, in print".

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Reed <
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Date:           Saturday, 11 Dec 2004 15:19:54 -0800
Subject:        Re: Footnotes in Bevington Othello

Of course everyone in a group this well informed realizes this is a
pretty famous crux in a play full of famous cruxes.  I've tended toward
the opinion Desdemona means "a man for her" rather than "a man like
him," but I've begun to wonder if that really is all there is to it, and
if both senses might be intended, as some others here have pointed out.
  One or the other meaning might be indicated by action: body language,
for instance.  And if both senses were intended there is no reason to
suppose they had to be simultaneously given: Desdemona might, by her
action, indicate a series - going back and forth between the two.  This
would communicate a kind of reverberation in the scene.  This would be a
bit strange in a theory of drama we have now, but maybe the theory of
drama in Shakespeare's day was different, and might have allowed it more
easily.  I'm wondering about it since the terms used and the overall
situation hints of sexual innuendo that might be exploited for comic
effect -- something that might have been carried primarily by the action.

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