in a bed covered in her wedding sheets—is symbolic: she is literally It is subsequently symbolically transformed into The plot of the play hinges on the loss of a handkerchief Othello gave to Desdemona. DESDEMONA : Why, so I can, sir, but I will not now. singing it. A CHARACTER ANALYSIS OF DESDEMONA. In Shakespeare’s original play, Othello kills Desdemona, when a handkerchief he gave her is found on his lieutenant, Cassio. It helps weave the entire story together. In this scene, Emilia’s loyalties—to her husband, Iago, and to her mistress, Desdemona—come into conflict. so powerful. lines, Desdemona has seemed capable of meeting or even rising above those standing over her with murder in his eyes, she sings a song she A beautiful, happy girl, she has rejected all Venetian suitors, but is conquered by Othello’s tales of his life, and absconds from her father’s her to elope with him. The Handkerchief. The exploration of female characters in Othello (Desdemona, Emilia, Bianca) represents a valid basis for feminist Shakespeare criticism. demands. Tragically, Desdemona is apparently aware of her imminent death. "Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief", by Paula Vogel, is Spicy Witch’s sister production to their all-female production of "Othello", both of which are running in rep at the Clemente Soto Velez Center. much criticism has given her credit for. The handkerchief is the most important in the play. Desdemona replies that she believes that Othello doesn’t harbor such an emotion, that the “sun where he was born / Drew all such humors from him.” Ironically, Iago’s jealous machinations turn the handkerchief, once a symbol of love and fidelity, into a tool of deception “proving” Desdemona’s trumped up affair with Cassio. The play, / . The action takes place in, so to speak, the interstices of Shakespeare’s Othello, showing what that play’s three women get up to in the household laundry while the Shakespeare plot takes place offstage elsewhere. Unable to produce it, Desdemona can’t convince Othello that his suspicions are unfounded and thereby save her marriage. Farewell. jesting with Iago in Act II, scene i, is either an interpolation He hopes that the handkerchief in Cassio’s possession will serve as proof of Desdemona’s infidelity and somehow lead to the destruction of both Cassio and Othello, the two men he hates with a passion. duty” [I.iii.179–180]) and her terse fury Desdemona hesitates, and then tells something of a lie. Here, Othello explains to Desdemona the significance of the handkerchief: He was told the handkerchief is charmed, and that whoever possesses it will have a faithful spouse, but should the object get lost or be given away, the once loyal spouse would search for love outside of the marriage. "It is not lost," she says (3.4.81.3). Morrison's play marks the third major play focusing on Shakespeare's Desdemona composed by a modern … From these two plays, we get the tragedy of Othello, delivered from perspectives of different genders. Iago, the antagonist of the play, interrupted the play by convincing Othello that Desdemona is unfaithful. Emilia recognizes the powerful love and loyalty Desdemona feels for Othello, and she knows that the handkerchief symbolizes these emotions. However, the heroine of Paula Vogel’s Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief is, to quote Britney Spears, not that innocent. The symbols of the play are the handkerchief, and the song “willow”. Othello gave it to Desdemona for the same reason, to represent her fidelity to Othello just as his mother did with his father. not written by Shakespeare or a mere vulgarity ignore the fact that Desdemona Desdemona is the daughter of the Venetian Senator Brabantio. The last time we see Desdemona before she awakens to find Othello It helps weave the entire story together. This is a trick to put me from my suit: Pray you, let Cassio be received again. Iago recognizes that his lies have already poisoned Othello’s mind with doubts about Desdemona’s fidelity. suffocated beneath the demands put on her fidelity. Desdemona insists to Emilia that Othello is not a jealous man. August 2, 2015 Harry. In spite of the fact that Emilia was beforehand blamed for taking part in an extramarital affair with Othello, her activities all through the play depict a steadfast and legitimate lady. To make Othello believe that Desdemona has been unfaithful, Iago talks Emilia into giving him Desdemona’s handkerchief so that he may plant it in Cassio’s quarters. The discussion over the handkerchief escalates into a huge fight. Mentioned over 30 times within the text, the item is both distinct in design — white, and dotted with images of strawberries — and imbued with a deep history. 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 mainfeatures. As the clown departs, Desdemona wonders to Emilia where her handkerchief might be. The reluctantly loyal Emilia pesters Desdemona about a military promotion for her. This item: Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief by Paula Vogel Paperback $10.00. For those who, like the 17th century essayist quoted in the program of “Desdemona,” find Shakespeare’s “Tragedy of Othello” to be just so much sturm und drang about a handkerchief, Paula Vogel… The handkerchief appears in Act III of the play and is a particularly important part in the plot of the play. Since the handkerchief was the first gift Desdemona received from Othello, she keeps it about her constantly as a symbol of Othello’s love. Othello gives Desdemona handkerchief as a symbol of his love to her because his father had given the same handkerchief to his mother. learned from her mother’s maid: “She was in love; and he proved mad Othello is among the most tragic of Shakespeare’s dramas and so are its characters including the heroine Desdemona and her lover Othello, ‘The Moor’. She is surely faithful to Iago when she gives him Desdemona’s handkerchief, regardless of her impulse to return it to Desdemona. Othello is a play about sexual jealousy, and how one man can convince another man, who loves his wife dearly, that she has been unfaithful to him when she hasn’t.But Shakespeare does several very interesting, and artistically quite bold, things … The handkerchief, a gift to Desdemona from Othello, symbolizes so much more than a mere token of affection. and she asks Emilia to bury her in these sheets should she die first. Two little deceptions – Emilia's stealing of the handkerchief and Desdemona's lie to Othello that it is not lost – cement Desdemona's doom. The 2011 play arose from a collaboration between Morrison, director Peter Sellars, and musician Rokia Traoré, and revolves around Desdemona's relationship with the African nurse who raised her. 3) Why does Othello care about Desdemona... Othello first explains that he has a sentimental attachment to Desdemona’s handkerchief because it was the first gift he ever gave to Desdemona: “I gave her such a one; ’twas my first gift” (3.3). Paula Vogel’s 1987 three-hander, Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief, is not a play about a handkerchief. Arguments that see Desdemona Othello may be impressive on the battlefield, but his own personal insecurity leads to the tragic end of the story. DESDEMONA : I say, it is not lost. independent person, but midway through she must struggle against / And she died Othello: analysis. is driven insane with jealousy. Okay, so maybe an outright lie. OTHELLO : Fetch me the handkerchief: my mind misgives. In the end, Othello stifles the speech that made Desdemona lines 61–84, when she attempts to persuade The pure and innocent victim of Iago's villainy, her husband Othello's jealousy and a series of extraordinary, handkerchief-related coincidences, she seems more typical of a nineteenth-century melodrama than of Shakespeare's imagination. When Desdemona drops the handkerchief in Act III, Scene 3, she unknowingly signals the point of the play at which she begins to lose Othello to blind jealousy. She makes a playful reference to Othello’s origins, suggesting that the sun in his native land made him impervious to jealousy, and therefore he is an exception to the typical Venetian tendency to be suspicious of women’s behavior. As a jealous man, Othello invests the handkerchief with great meaning. Othello Analysis . lord. in her willingness to take credit for her own murder. The play has been published by Dramatists Play Service and is a fascinating read. In this soliloquy, Iago shares his evil plan for Desdemona’s handkerchief: He will place it in Cassio’s room as “evidence” that Desdemona and Cassio have been having an affair. The manner in which Desdemona is murdered—smothered by a pillow Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. The handkerchief initially is a gift given to Desdemona by Othello as a love token. the same chiding, almost mischievous wit in Act III, scene iii, wife and as a bold, independent personality. In response The handkerchief symbolizes different things to different characters. The handkerchief, a gift to Desdemona from Othello, symbolizes so much more than a mere token of affection. The play has been published by Dramatists Play … As a picture of domestic abuse, the play could have been poignant, but unlike the masterpiece that is How I Learned to Drive, this play just doesn't measure up to Vogel's usual delivery. When Desdemona cannot produce the handkerchief he wants to see, Othello explains the handkerchiefs histo… Desdemona orders the clown to find Cassio and bring him the message that she has made her suit to Othello. of her first speech (“My noble father, / I do perceive here a divided At the end of the play, Emilia refers to the handkerchief as a “trifle” (5.2.228); this trifle is the center of catastrophe in the play. Since her first . That song tonight / Will not go from my mind” (IV.iii.27–30). Only 7 left in stock (more on the way). Now the handkerchief symbolizes the health of the marriage as a whole, rather than just one partner’s loyalty. Othello is clearly manipulating Desdemona, for even though he believes she has been unfaithful to him, his words seem to threaten that if she loses the handkerchief, he will cheat on her. In handing over the handkerchief, she obeys Iago’s commands, but in doing so she betrays Desdemona and plays an unwitting role in Iago’s plan to destroy Othello and all he loves. Title of Work and its Form: Desdemona: a play about a handkerchief, play Author: Paula Vogel (on Twitter: @VogelPaula) Date of Work: 1993 Where the Work Can Be Found: The play was first produced in by Circle Repertory Company and featured the amazing Cherry Jones in the role of Bianca. Desdemona is one of Shakespeare's most boring female leads. Her speeches are not as lengthy as those of the men, but with Desdemona, every word counts. She later displays Desdemona, A Play About a Handkerchief by Paula Vogel November 9 - 25, 2018 . words are, “Nobody, I myself. He admires and loves his wife, but he can't believe that she would be in love with him. that she is “guiltless,” Desdemona also forgives her husband (V.ii.133). In this scene, the handkerchief may represent Desdemona's desire to heal Othello of his distress. Similarly, critics who argue that Desdemona’s slightly bizarre bawdy OTHELLO : Fetch't, let me see't. The handkerchief appears in Act III of the play and is a particularly important part in the plot of the play. Iago manipulates the handkerchief so that Othello comes to see it as a symbol of Desdemona herself—her faith and chastity. Harlem Duet by Djanet Sears Paperback $15.95. may be intentional, meant to portray the way Desdemona herself feels Iago, understanding the object’s significance, plans to turn the token of love into a tool of destruction. as stereotypically weak and submissive ignore the conviction and authority / Commend me to my kind DESDEMONA : Come, come; 90 : You'll never meet a more sufficient man. To Othello, the handkerchief symbolizes fidelity and his giving it to Desdemona represents a promise that he will be true to her, and a request that she stay true to him. The play, then, depicts Desdemona contradictorily as a self-effacing, faithful wife and as a bold, independent personality. Othello enters and tells Desdemona to give him her hand. Othello by William Shakespeare Summary O, farewell” (V.ii.133–134). Desdemona explains to Emilia how important her handkerchief is to her, and that while she feels Othello is too good a man to fall prey to a base emotion such as jealousy, she understands that her losing the gift that symbolizes his love might upset him. to Emilia’s question, “O, who hath done this deed?” Desdemona’s final Othello asks point-blank if the handkerchief is lost. Use up and down arrows to review and enter to select. Emilia is loyal to Desdemona, but she is loyal to Iago. Order it now. The first symbol of the handkerchief is Desdemona’s marital fidelity. Othello to forgive Cassio. after Othello strikes her (“I have not deserved this” [IV.i.236]). Emilia explains why she feels lucky to have found Desdemona’s handkerchief: Her husband, Iago, has been pestering her to snatch it for some time, and although she doesn’t know why he wants it, she’s happy to finally do as he asks. Later in play he throws a tantrum because Desdemona does not know where the handkerchief is. The handkerchief symbolizes Othello’s love and trust to Desdemona and Desdemona’s marital fidelity to Othello. all odds to convince Othello that she is not too independent. then, depicts Desdemona contradictorily as a self-effacing, faithful Desdemona is young, sexual, and recently married. Desdemona is at times a submissive character, most notably as well. The play, then, depicts Desdemona contradictorily as a self-effacing, faithful wife and as a bold, independent personality. She had a song of willow. She does so, and he chastises her for her hands moistness, which suggests sexual promiscuity. In vain, Desdemona tries to deflect his questions about the handkerchief, speaking again of Cassio. The title character of the play is Desdemona, the wife of the title character in Shakespeare's Othello. The handkerchief symbolizes Othello’s love and trust to Desdemona and Desdemona’s marital fidelity to Othello. To Othello, the handkerchief symbolizes fidelity and his giving it to Desdemona represents a promise that he will be true to her, and a request that she stay true to him. Iago understands that a gift such as a handkerchief might be a mere trinket to some, but bear profound meaning to others. She, not Othello, asks Emilia to put her wedding sheets on the bed, 22 reviews Having slept with Othello's entire encampment, Desdemona revels in her bawdy tales of conquest. After handing over Desdemona’s handkerchief to Iago, Emilia explains that Desdemona will become extremely upset once she notices the object is missing, so unless the handkerchief serves some important purpose, she would like to return it to her mistress. When Othello enters, he claims a headache and asks her for a handkerchief to bind his head, but he will have only the embroidered strawberry handkerchief. He then asks her to lend him her handkerchief. Like the audience, Desdemona seems able only to watch as her husband In Paula Vogel’s bawdy, thunderingly ironic take on Othello, the bride of the Moor is everything Iago pretended she was.Well, worse, actually, Desdemona is a bored, promiscuous aristocrat who delights in talking like a fishwife and whiles away idle hours in Cyprus by substituting for the local prostitute. Desdemona sends for Cassio to tell him that she has spoken with Othello; she is also worried that she has lost her handkerchief. Of all the deaths that happen in Othello, Desdemona’s is the most tragic and undeserved. The first symbol of the handkerchief is Desdemona’s marital fidelity. . Desdemona is a lady of spirit and intelligence. The main themes of the play include love, an inconsistency of the military heroism, and fear of isolation. THE HANDKERCHIEF IN OTHELLO: MEANING & SYMBOLISM In William Shakespeare’s play, Othello, the symbolism of Desdemona’s handkerchief is central to the play’s tragic dénouement. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. In stock on October 17, 2020. This contradiction Most characters in the novel meet an undeserved fate. Her forgiveness of Othello may help the audience to forgive him She begins the play as a supremely Summary. She is caught between her conscience and her responsibilities as both a wife and Desdemona’s attendant. iii, and then almost immediately being put in the position of defending Desdemona is a more plausible, well-rounded figure than after defending her choice of marriage to her father in Act I, scene her fidelity to her husband. Though she maintains to the end For all the claims of military straightforwardness of some other characters, Desdemona is the most direct and honest speaker in the play. / And did forsake her. Use up and down arrows to review and enter to select. At least, she did until playwright Paula Vogel asked, "Do we really know she was innocent?" handkerchief may appear to be an insignificant object, but throughout the play the way its symbolic importance is revealed, shows that it is really very significant. As if she can’t believe what she is hearing—perhaps based on her own experiences with her jealous husband, Iago—Emilia asks if Othello ever gets jealous. 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