PAULA VOGEL’S DESDEMONA (A PLAY ABOUT A HANDKERCHIEF): A FEMINIST READING OF SHAKESPEARE’S OTHELLO

Authors

  • Милена Каличанин

Keywords:

female identity, race, class, language, social status

Abstract

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.

References

ALTHUSSER 2001: Althusser, Louis. (2001). Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses. Lenin and Philosophy and other Essays. London: Verso Press, 121–176.

BLOOM 1987: Bloom, Harold. (1987). Modern Critical Interpretations: William Shakespeare’s King Lear. London: Fourth Estate.

CALLAGHAN 1996: Callaghan, Dympna. (1996). Othello was a White Man: Properties of Race on Shakespeare’s Stage. In: Hawkes, T., ed. Alternative Shakespeares. Volume 2. London and New York: Routledge, 193-215.

DUSINBERRE 1996: Dusinberre, Juliet. (1996). Shakespeare and the Nature of Women (2nd Edition). London: Macmillan Press, Ltd.

FLAHERTY 2014: Flaherty, Jennifer. How Desdemona Learned to Die: Failed Resistance in Paula Vogel’s Desdemona. Gender Forum: An Internet Journal for Gender Studies, Issue 49, 35-46.

FRIEDMAN 1999: Friedman, Sharon. (1999). Revisioning the Woman’s Part: Paula Vogel’s Desdemona. New Theatre Quarterly, 15(2), 131-141.

HUGHES 1992: Hughes, Ted. (1992). Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being. London: Faber and Faber.

JARDINE 1996: Jardine, Lisa. (1996). Reading Shakespeare Historically. Florence: Routledge.

NEWMAN 1987: Newman, Karen. “And Wash the Ethiop White”: Femininity and the Monstrous in Othello. In: Howard, J., O’Connor M., eds. (1987). Shakespeare Reproduced. London: Methuen, 141-162.

PUSKAS 2010: Puskas, Andrea. Female Identity in Feminist Adaptations of Shakespeare. Budapest: (2010). PhD thesis available at http://doktori.btk.elte.hu/lit/puskasandrea/diss.pdf, приступљено марта 2019.

SHAKESPEARE 1998: Shakespeare, William. (1998). The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice. Signet Printing: Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England.

SHOWALTER 1979: Showalter, Elaine. (1979). Women’s Writing and Writing About Women. London: Croom Helm.

VOGEL 2000: Vogel, Paula. Desdemona: A Play About A Handkerchief. In: Fischlin, D., Fortier, M. eds. (2000). Adaptations of Shakespeare: A Critical Anthology of Plays. London and New York: Routledge, 233-254.

Downloads

Published

2020-09-10