The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0978  Wednesday, 1 November 2006

From: 		David Evett <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
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, 
not Sunday.

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.

David Evett

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