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Coleridge Essays And Lectures On Shakespeare

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Реферат: The Role Of Desdemona In Shakespeare

’s Othello Essay, Research Paper

The Role of Desdemona in Shakespeare?s Othello

The character of Desdemona represents a woman of the 17th century who surpassed the norms of sexual morality set for Venetian women of that time. When Desdemona left the house of her father, Brabantio, to wed the Moor, Othello, it was the first step in redefining her role as a woman. Desdemona, instead of asking her father?s permission, decided on her own to marry Othello. It seems as though Desdemona was breaking away from the strictness imposed by Brabantio. She denied her father any right in choosing or granting allowance to Othello to marry her. Instead she chose the man who she wanted to marry and felt it unnecessary that her father intervene in their relationship. This act of independence by Desdemona tore away the gender barriers of the Venetian patriarchal society and posed a threat to male authority. The other aspect of Desdemona?s mutiny was the miscegenation in Desdemona and Othello?s marriage. 1The choice of mate made by Desdemona further deviated from the role in which Venetian society would cast her. The traditions of the Venetian society are discovered when Iago speaks to Brabantio and plants both the ideas of miscegeny and loss of power into Brabantio?s mind. Iago cautions Brabantio:

Your heart is burst, you have lost half your soul;

Even now, now, very now, an old black ram

Is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise!

These lines highlight the fact that in Elizabethan society, Brabantio, like other fathers, considered Desdemona?s body to be his possession while also tapping into the fear of miscegenation that existed in Venice at that time.

2In his book ?Sex in History. Rattray Taylor describes patriarchal societies in which the power was placed in the hands of men, to be based on father-identifier schemes (77). Taylor explains that children who are father-identifiers, model themselves after their fathers because of their interest in authority and in an attempt to acquire power as their fathers have (314). This can be applied to Desdemona?s rebelliousness. Because Brabantio had such immense power over her, Desdemona may have wanted to gain this kind of power herself. Thus she decided to take her relationship into her own hands and ignored the tradition of receiving her father?s approval. Desdemona was striving to play an equal role with the men in the Venetian society.

The aspect of playing the same role as the men in the Venetian society also explains Desdemona?s marriage to Othello. Instead of Brabantio taking the initiative in the marriage, Desdemona took the initiative in the courtship because she envied the power that her father had over her and the power of Othello?s bravery and masculinity. 3She wished to be a man as brave and as noble as Othello (Holland 253). Desdemona?s actions were not necessarily based on the desire to be a man, but more so a desire to have the equal powers of men. By marrying Othello, Desdemona was showing that she was strong enough and educated enough to break the societal confines of passivity for women (Walker 2). However, we must not assume that Desdemona did not love Othello or that she married him only to define herself as a liberated woman.

Desdemona?s concise statement about her love was revealed with balance and health when she said:

I saw Othello?s visage in his mind,

And to his honours and his valiant parts

Did I my soul and fortunes consecrate.

(Oth. III. iii. 250-252)

We can see that she loved Othello for his body and mind, for his reputation and actions, and she consecrated herself to him spiritually and practically and she continued to love him throughout all the events and accusations. Race was not an issue to Desdemona and this was a result of her intelligence and determination to become liberated.

Othello, however, may have been frightened by Desdemona?s aggressiveness as a woman. This, along with the misperceptions brought on by Iago, could have led to his changing views of Desdemona. When Othello and Desdemona are first married, Othello spoke nothing but love for Desdemona. Robert Burns? poem. A Red, Red Rose? best represents Othello?s feelings toward Desdemona. The lines. As fair art thou, my bonnie lass, / So deep in luve am I / And I will luve thee still, my dear, / Til a? the seas gang dry? (Burns 531), represent hope, faith, and experience. Othello?s love for Desdemona at the beginning of the play was based on this hope, faith and experience. Unfortunately, after Iago?s manipulation, Othello?s love turned to despair, pain, and anger. After Iago led Othello to believe that Desdemona and Cassio were having an affair, Othello then considered Desdemona to be a. lewd minx? (Oth. III. iii. 475). Othello did not have enough faith in his wife to disregard the accusations made by Iago.

Emilia, however, had a better understanding of Desdemona?s actions than did Othello. As a woman, Emilia was not threatened by Desdemona, but instead felt admiration toward her. 4With no family or friends, Desdemona and Emilia were alone in a military camp, where masculine conceptions of honor defined what women were (McKewin 128). Because both women were aware of their oppression, they both could relate to one another on a level of understanding. Naturally Emilia looked up to Desdemona because she was tired of how Iago treated her. Emilia was not able to take the steps toward liberation like Desdemona did, so she was living the experience through Desdemona. It was not until Emilia was faced with the tragic death of Desdemona that she was able to express her desire to escape from the male-dominated society. It was then that she felt an obligation to Desdemona to break free of Iago?s manipulation and speak the truth.

Cassio?s was also an enthusiastic admirer of Desdemona. Although Cassio wanted only the help of Desdemona in getting his position back as Othello?s Lieutenant, it cannot be denied that he also worshipped her (Coleridge 174). However, Cassio was too loyal to Othello to have any relationship beyond friendship. His admiration came form his acknowledgement of Desdemona?s fearlessness of public forum. Cassio also knew that Desdemona would plead on his behalf simply because she feared the repercussions of his demotion in Venice. Cassio recognized Desdemona?s political concerns. He knew that she would help him get his position back out of love for Othello and his reputation, and through her recognition that Cassio was more qualified than Iago. Cassio knew that Desdemona was constantly striving for her voice to be heard and she demonstrated her intellect through word and deed.

Ironically and tragically, Desdemona?s desire for her voice to be heard fed into Iago?s web of deception (Walker 2). Both Desdemona and Othello were under the impression that Iago was an honest man. Thus, when Othello accused Desdemona of adultery, she went to Iago for help. Naturally Iago, who put the idea of adultery in Othello?s head, told Desdemona that Othello was troubled by business with the state. In this way Iago avoided the revealing of his manipulation. To Desdemona he appeared to be comforting and supporting in her time of confusion. To Othello, Iago had the appearance of a loyal servant by informing him of Desdemona?s ?affair. These manipulative actions by Iago can be related to William Blake?s ?A Poison Tree. The lines of Blake?s poem indicate the wrath that one man had for his enemy and how he used his wrath to manipulate his enemy. It reads:

I was angry with my friend:

I told my wrath, my wrath did end.

I was angry with my foe:

I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears,

Night and morning with my tears;

And I sunned it with smiles,

And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,

Till it bore an apple bright.

And my foe beheld it shine,

And he knew that it was mine,

And into my garden stole,

When the night had veil?d the pole;

In the morning glad I see

My foe outstretched beneath the tree (531).

Iago?s foes were Cassio, Roderigo, Desdemona, and Othello. He used deceit to make his wrath against them all look as though he was just trying to help them. His actions were like the poison fruit on Blake?s tree that looked so appealing. Iago lured everyone into his trap until they were all under his control. Desdemona, although an intelligent woman seeking liberation, fell into Iago?s trap because she loved Othello and was upset that he had considered her a ?whore. She was a very trusting person and did not think that Iago would her hurt. Although she was striving to be play an equal role of the men in Venice, at times her sensitivities overpowered her desire to break the gender barriers. In Taylor?s book, he states that children who are father-identifiers still revert to their own type (314). Thus Desdemona was still influenced by matriarchal themes such as love and emotion, rather than power. This is why she had such a strong desire to make amends with Othello. It is also the reason in which she put so much trust into Iago.

Desdemona?s matriarchal sensitivities are like those of the character Frances in Irwin Shaw?s ?The Girls in Their Summer Dresses. Like Frances, Desdemona wanted to be loved and acknowledged by her husband. When Frances said to her husband. I?m good for you,?I?ve made a good wife, a good housekeeper, a good friend. I?d do any damn thing for you? (499), her desire to be acknowledged as a good wife derived from her matriarchal tendencies of sensitivity. Desdemona, like Frances, could not control her feelings of insignificance. Both were striving to be the best wives that they could be and both felt that their roles as wives were being threatened. Therefore, their matriarchal instincts were to do anything in their power to alleviate the tension between their husbands.

This desire by Desdemona to please her husband can also be attributed to her intelligence and liberation. She does not merely listen to Othello?s accusations, but instead tries to explain her situation. She could have very easily let Othello control her but she made her point known and told the truth about her circumstance. Desdemona, just before her death, challenges Othello as she had challenged her father and defends herself with the same straightforward precision she used before the Senate:

And have you mercy too! I never did

Offend you in my life; never loved Cassio

But with such a general warranty of heaven

As I might love; I never gave him token.

Even in her death, Desdemona proved her liberation by showing that she controlled her own desires. Unfortunately Desdemona, by destroying the gender barriers, sealed her own fate. Because the men of Venice were unable to comprehend Desdemona?s self-control, her death was inevitable. Othello realized that Desdemona?s body and mind were her own domain. Upon this realization, Othello also saw that he had lost his power. By taking charge of her own destiny, Desdemona revealed to Othello that he was destined to lose control. Forced to deal with Desdemona?s rebelliousness and the pressures of Iago, Othello murdered his wife. Sadly, the ultimate price that Desdemona had to pay for her liberation was death.

1. On this point, a more detailed history of the role of women in the 1600s can be found in Taylor, Sex in History 19-71.

2. Taylor offers a further explanation and comparison between the father-identifier and mother-identifier schemes in Appendix A and B of his book Sex in History.

3. The view that Holland has of Desdemona is a realist view that he applies to all the characters in Othello. He later offers an antirealist view as an optional analysis of the characters in the play in his book Psychoanalysis and Shakespeare, 246-258.

4. Carol McKewin. Counsels of Gall and Grace: Intimate Conversations between Women in Shakespeare?s Plays? offers an essentially positive reading of the female characters and female friendship, but notes that both sexes share in tragic responsibility: the men ?misconceive? the women; the women ?overestimate? the men. This essay is contained in Lenz, Greene, and Neely, eds. The Woman?s Part: Feminist Criticism of Shakespeare, where a further evaluation of the role of women in Shakespeare can be found in

Blake, William. A Poison Tree. Literature: The Human Experience. Shorter 6th ed. with Essays. Ed. Richard Abcarian and Marvin Klotz. New York: St. Martin?s, 1996. 530.

Burns, Robert. A Red, Red Rose. Literature: The Human Experience. Shorter 6th ed. 531.

Coleridge, S.T. Coleridge?s Essays and Lectures on Shakespeare and Some Other Old Poets and Dramatists. London: Dent, 1907. 169-177.

Holland, Norman N. Psychoanalysis and Shakespeare. New York: Farrar, 1966.

McKewin, Carole. Counsels of Gall and Grace: Intimate Conversations between Women in Shakespeare?s Plays. The Woman?s Part: Feminist Criticism of Shakespeare. Ed. Carolyn Ruth Swift Lenz, Gayle Greene, Carol Thomas Neely. Chicago: U of Illinois P, 1980. 117-129.

Shakespeare, William. Othello. Literature: The Human Experience. Shorter 6th ed. 571-664.

Shaw, Irwin. The Girls in Their Summer Dresses. Literature: The Human Experience. Shorter 6th ed. 496-500.

Taylor, Rattray G. Sex in History. New York: Harper, 1973.

Walker, Marilyn. Desdemona and Desire. 17 Nov. 1997. Indiana U. 24 April 1999

Other articles

Coleridge on Shakespeare, book

Coleridge on Shakespeare

First published in 1971. The only substantial text of a series of lectures on Shakespeare by S T Coleridge is that provided by J P Collier's Seven Lectures on Shakespeare and Milton (1856). His text of these important lectures given by Coleridge in 1811-12 has been the basis of all modern editions. This edition is based on hitherto unpublished transcripts of the lectures made by Collier when, as a young man, he attended Coleridge's lectures. R A Foakes' introduction and appendices demonstrate the extent to which Collier revised and altered Coleridge's words for the edition he published forty-five years later. This volume therefore provides a much more authoritative text of Coleridge's most important Shakespeare lectures.

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Coleridge on Shakespeare

Lectures and Notes on Shakspere

Other English Poets

[Lectures and Notes on Shakspere and Other English Poets was published in 1897, more than sixty years after Coleridge's death. It was compiled from other publications by Coleridge and from reports by those who attended his lectures. The pages reproduced on this part of the Hamlet Navigator site contain Coleridge's best-known comments about Hamlet. They also provide a sampling of Coleridge's rambling, eloquent prose style.]

Pages 24-25 :From the diary of H. Crabb Robinson: Robinson comments on Coleridge's difficulty in sticking to his announced topic, and on Coleridge's tendency to see his own problems as Hamlet's problems.
Pages 342-349 :From lectures which Coleridge delivered in 1818: Coleridge defends himself against the charge that he took his ideas about Hamlet from Schlegel, a German philosopher, poet, and critic. || Coleridge's description of Hamlet as one in whom "we see a great, an almost enormous, intellectual activity, and a proportionate aversion to real action consequent upon it." || Coleridge's commentary on the opening scene of Hamlet.
Page 531 :From Coleridge's "Table Talk": Contains Coleridge's statement, "I have a smack of Hamlet myself, if I may say so."

Lectures and Notes on Shakspere by Coleridge

Shakespeare, With Introductory Matter on Poetry, The Drama, and The Stage (Unabridged): Coleridge’s Essays and Lectures on Shakespeare and Other Old

This carefully crafted ebook: “Shakespeare, With Introductory Matter on Poetry, The Drama, and The Stage (Unabridged)” is formatted for your eReader with a functional and detailed table of contents.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834) was an English poet, literary critic and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic Movement in England and a member of the Lake Poets.

Definition of Poetry

Progress Of The Drama

The Drama Generally, And Public Taste

Notes on Shakespeare Shakespeare, A Poet Generally

Shakespeare’s Judgment equal to his Genius

Recapitulation, And Summary Of the Characteristics of Shakespeare’s Dramas

Outline Of An Introductory Lecture Upon Shakespeare

Order Of Shakespeare’s Plays

Notes On The “Tempest”

Love’s Labour’s Lost

Midsummer Night’s Dream

Comedy Of Errors

All’s Well That Ends Well

Merry Wives Of Windsor

Measure For Measure

Samuel Coleridge Biography

Biography of Samuel Coleridge

In the context of literary history, Samuel Taylor Coleridge is often seen as "the most intellectual of the English Romantics" due to his extensive forays into critical writing, especially his Biographia Literaria (1817) and lectures on Shakespeare. This is not to say that Coleridge's creative side received short shrift; friends and colleagues knew him as an unrelentingly passionate poet. In a letter to a friend, Dorothy Wordsworth gushed: "His eye is large and full, not dark but grey; such an eye as would receive from a heavy soul the dullest expression; but it speaks every emotion of his animated mind; it has more of the `poet's eye in a fine frenzy rolling' than I ever witnessed." Like his famous character, the Ancient Mariner, Coleridge's very eyes spoke of his compulsion to tell stories. But Coleridge did not take himself too seriously; in addition to publishing under his initials, STC (or "Estisi"), he was known to publish works mocking his own style under the lighthearted pseudonyms Silas Tomkyn Comerbache and Nehemiah Higginbottom.

Coleridge was born on October 21, 1772 in Devonshire, England. He was the youngest of 14 children. Coleridge proved to be a brilliant student from early on, and continued his excellence at Jesus College. At the same time, however, he was experimenting with the pleasures of alcohol, women, and most famously, opium. After school, Coleridge joined the Dragoons for a short time and then hastily married Sara Southey, the younger sister of his friend, the future poet laureate Robert Southey. He earned a living as a Unitarian preacher for a short time while remaining in an incompatible marriage, and began to focus seriously on his love of writing. In the late 1790s, Coleridge began his famous friendship with William Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy. Their intellectual and artistic exchanges culminated in Lyrical Ballads 1798, in which "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner " was first published. The collection was a major landmark in the Romantic Movement; in it, the two writers exemplified the examination of the mundane, natural, and intensely subjective. Many of the poems were also written in everyday language, avoiding the ornamented styles of speech and elaborate rhyme schemes favored by poets of earlier periods. "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" is one exception to this trend, as in it Coleridge used both a rhyme scheme and words derived from Middle English. Soon after the publication of Lyrical Ballads. Coleridge fell in love with Sara Hutchinson, the sister of Wordsworth's future wife. Since he was already married, he was forced to channel his love for Sara Hutchinson into his poetry, where he referred to her by an anagram of her name, "Asra." Coleridge published the second version of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" in 1817 in the volume Sibylline Leaves. In it he removed much of the original poem's deliberate archaism and added marginal glosses.

After travels abroad in Sicily and Malta, Coleridge returned to England in a state that worried his closest friends. His opium addiction had escalated to the point of straining his relationships with his wife and friends. Most notably, in 1810 Coleridge and Wordsworth suffered a falling out, and never entirely regained their former closeness. Eventually, on the verge of suicide, he moved in with a doctor who managed his care for the last eighteen years of his life. While in the doctor's care, Coleridge published the unfinished poems "Christabel" and "Kubla Khan", which became icons of Romantic poetry.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge died on July 25, 1834 at the age of 61. Upon his death, his good friend Charles Lamb claimed he could not grieve for Coleridge, saying: "It seemed to me that he long had been on the confines of the next world - that he had a hunger for eternity." According to Lamb, Coleridge spent his life striving for the eternal and sublime, so that death was for him the fulfillment of his deepest desire, rather than a dreaded end.

Study Guides on Works by Samuel Coleridge

In 1798, Coleridge and longtime friend William Wordsworth anonymously published Lyrical Ballads. a work which officially began the Romantic movement in English poetry. Though not the first of Colerdige's published works, Lyrical Ballads.

Coleridge first published his famous ballad, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner", in Lyrical Ballads. his 1798 joint effort with his close friend and colleague William Wordsworth. The collection's publication is often seen as the Romantic Movement's.

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