The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0978 Wednesday, 1 November 2006
From: David Evett <
Date: Tuesday, 31 Oct 2006 16:07:08 -0500
Subject: 17.0958 Roderigo's Fate
Comment: Re: SHK 17.0958 Roderigo's Fate
>In Othello, the murder of Desdemona takes place on Holy
>Saturday (by the Cypriot Julian calendar). At midnight,
>we know that Holy Saturday turns to Easter Sunday, the
>day of resurrection. As a consequence: (1) Desdemona
>revives to deny Othello murdered her; (2) Roderigo revives
>after long seeming dead; and (3) Cassio, who has been in
>deathly disgrace is raised on a wooden frame and carried in,
>now the governor of Cyprus.
I am very curious to know the grounds of Steve Sohmer's argument here.
M.R. Ridley in Arden 2 ("The Double Time-Scheme," lxvii-lxx) argues that
Othello arrives on Saturday afternoon, Cassio's petition is made on
Sunday morning, the temptation and subjection of Othello by Iago takes
place during that day, and the murder that night. The timetable depends,
though Ridley does not say so, on Desdemona's initial appeal to Othello
on Cassio's behalf: "Shall't be tonight at supper? . . . Why then,
tomorrow night, or Tuesday morn, . . . or Wednesday morn" (3.3.57-62).
That puts any "resurrection," if it occurs after midnight, on Monday,
I cannot find anything in the text that places the events in Holy Week.
If that is so, however, Othello's proclamation of a night of liberty
and rejoicing runs deeply counter to the customary observance of the
period from Good Friday to Easter morning by Catholic and Protestant
Christians alike - shockingly so, if we can trust the time-scheme
implied by Desdemona, which would put all that boozing and fighting, and
also the sexual reunion of Othello and Desdemona discussed by Iago and
Cassio (2.3.13-26), on Good Friday.
The time-scheme of the play is notoriously infirm, of course. Still, I
find it hard to accept Sohmer's particular interpretation of it.
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