PAULA VOGEL’S DESDEMONA (A PLAY ABOUT A HANDKERCHIEF): A FEMINIST READING OF SHAKESPEARE’S OTHELLO
Keywords:female identity, race, class, language, social status
The exploration of female characters in Othello (Desdemona, Emilia, Bianca) represents a valid basis for feminist Shakespeare criticism. Lisa Jardine (1996) focuses on the significance of the historical and cultural background for the interpretation of the position and role of women in the Renaissance by emphasizing that obedience, passivity and silence represent their main
features. Feminist critics such as Dympna Callaghan (1996) and Karen Newman (1987) base their analyses on the relationship between race and gender and its implications for the interpretation of female identity. In the paper, these feminist
approaches are compared and contrasted to Paula Vogel’s feminist rendering of Othello. In her play, as Andrea Puskas (2010) claims, female identity is depicted as a construct made up of social status, class and language. The paper illustrates
Vogel’s willing disregard of the Renaissance stereotypes of woman and probes into the author’s reasons for ascribing generally male qualities to female characters. Desdemona’s exaggerated libido, Emilia’s prudishness and Bianca’s thriftiness, presented as traits of the new woman, are thus discussed and questioned in detail.
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