Othello: A Guide to the Play

By Joan Lord Hall | Go to book overview

mona as a spirited woman who challenges patriarchal stereotypes of femininity but is finally trapped within them? Or do we wrongly infer, from the complex dramatic presentation of this woman, that Shakespeare's interest in gender conflicts was similar to our own "intense interest . . . in the family and the sex roles developed within it"? 188 As Linda Woodbridge has pointed out, Shakespeare cannot be regarded as a protofeminist who four hundred years ago miraculously transcended the presuppositions of his age. 189 The label "patriarchal bard" may be more historically accurate. 190 If, like many readers, we decide that Othello cannot be read or acted as deeply subversive of the dominant ideological stance on women in the Renaissance -- and that even Emilia's oppositional viewpoint is qualified by her subordinate dramatic role and position in the social hierarchy -- then the challenge to resist is left up to feminist readers. The onus is on them to uncover, and subvert for themselves, the strategies of the play that are repressive to women. 191


NOTES
1
Thomas Rymer, A Short View of Tragedy ( 1693; Menston, Yorkshire: Scholar Press, 1970), p. 140.
9
Robert Heilman, Magic in the Web: Language and Action in Othello ( Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1956), p. 212.
10
Kenneth Burke, "Othello: An Essay to Illustrate a Method", HudR, 4 (Autumn 1951): 165-203, quote at 197.
11
Rymer, A Short View of Tragedy, p. 102.
17
Samuel Johnson, Johnson on Shakespeare, ed. Walter Raleigh ( London: Oxford University Press, 1908), p. 200.
18
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, chap. xiv, in Donald A. Stauffer (ed.), Selected Poetry and Prose of Coleridge ( New York: Random House, 1951), p. 269.
19
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Shakespearean Criticism, ed. Thomas Middleton Raysor ( London: Dent, 1960), vol. 1, p. 44.
22
See Kris Collins, "White-Washing the Black-a-Moor: Negro Minstrelsy and Parodies of Blackness", JACult, 19.3 (Fall 1996): 87-101, for a survey of how nineteenth-century stage productions in America also redefined Othello's "color and character" (p. 90).

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Othello: A Guide to the Play
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Notes x
  • Journal Abbreviations xi
  • 1 - Textual History 1
  • Notes 8
  • 2 - Contexts and Sources 11
  • Notes 22
  • 3 - Dramatic Structure 29
  • Notes 57
  • 4 - The Major Characters 63
  • Notes 94
  • 5 - Themes 103
  • Notes 116
  • 6 - Critical Approaches 121
  • Notes 142
  • 7 - The Play in Performance 151
  • Notes 200
  • Bibliographical Essay 209
  • Index 217
  • About the Author *
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