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Home :: Archive :: 2009 :: May ::
Othello and the Law
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0235  Friday, 15 May 2009

[1] From:   William Blanton <
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     Date:   Wednesday, 13 May 2009 16:34:17 -0500
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0208 Othello and the Law

[2] From:   Joseph Egert <
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     Date:   Wednesday, 13 May 2009 15:09:56 -0700 (PDT)
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0208 Othello and the Law


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       William Blanton <
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Date:       Wednesday, 13 May 2009 16:34:17 -0500
Subject: 20.0208 Othello and the Law
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0208 Othello and the Law

Two laws, actually. The One Drop of Christian Blood statute, and the Any 
Alien Who statute.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Joseph Egert <
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Date:       Wednesday, 13 May 2009 15:09:56 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 20.0208 Othello and the Law
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0208 Othello and the Law

 From Harry Berger:

"I second Larry Weiss's good response and just want to add that the 
question of law comes up more centrally and problematically in 
Shakespeare's other Venetian play, in which Portia seems to have  pulled 
a law out of her hat."

More than any other play, OTHELLO scrutinizes legal procedure as the 
surest road to truth, and finds it too often wanting. It is not 
'jealousy' but 'knowledge' -- its fragility and uncertainty -- that is 
the governing theme in this remarkable drama. How often is 'know' or its 
cognates repeated again and again? Nigh every encounter becomes a 
mini-inquest invariably introduced by the query: "What's the matter?" 
The matters here are 'matters of fact' which the characters as jurors 
are asked to establish. Are the witnesses competent and honorable? Are 
their reports credible and bona fide?  Do their words defy rather than 
wield the matter? See how easily Iago preys on the credulity, 
insecurities, and predispositions of his gulls, as his malicious 
witcraft blinds their minds to reality, with lethal effect. Will the 
state's use of Iago's 'cunning cruelty' make known the nature of his 
fault? Does he even know himself?

Joe Egert

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