Iago, the antagonist of the play, interrupted the play by convincing Othello that Desdemona is unfaithful. 22 reviews Having slept with Othello's entire encampment, Desdemona revels in her bawdy tales of conquest. The exploration of female characters in Othello (Desdemona, Emilia, Bianca) represents a valid basis for feminist Shakespeare criticism. duty” [I.iii.179–180]) and her terse fury The first symbol of the handkerchief is Desdemona’s marital fidelity. lord. 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’. Of all the deaths that happen in Othello, Desdemona’s is the most tragic and undeserved. The handkerchief is the most important in the play. Use up and down arrows to review and enter to select. The play, then, depicts Desdemona contradictorily as a self-effacing, faithful wife and as a bold, independent personality. Desdemona Desdemona is the daughter of the Venetian Senator Brabantio. Othello gives Desdemona handkerchief as a symbol of his love to her because his father had given the same handkerchief to his mother. 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). 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. may be intentional, meant to portray the way Desdemona herself feels Her speeches are not as lengthy as those of the men, but with Desdemona, every word counts. as well. 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. lines, Desdemona has seemed capable of meeting or even rising above those The title character of the play is Desdemona, the wife of the title character in Shakespeare's Othello. Desdemona sends for Cassio to tell him that she has spoken with Othello; she is also worried that she has lost her handkerchief. Farewell. That song tonight / Will not go from my mind” (IV.iii.27–30). and she asks Emilia to bury her in these sheets should she die first. 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. / And did forsake her. In this scene, the handkerchief may represent Desdemona's desire to heal Othello of his distress. She is caught between her conscience and her responsibilities as both a wife and Desdemona’s attendant. is driven insane with jealousy. jesting with Iago in Act II, scene i, is either an interpolation Order it now. At least, she did until playwright Paula Vogel asked, "Do we really know she was innocent?" Othello to forgive Cassio. suffocated beneath the demands put on her fidelity. Desdemona, A Play About a Handkerchief by Paula Vogel November 9 - 25, 2018 . She had a song of willow. Iago understands that a gift such as a handkerchief might be a mere trinket to some, but bear profound meaning to others. 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. Like the audience, Desdemona seems able only to watch as her husband The plot of the play hinges on the loss of a handkerchief Othello gave to Desdemona. singing it. OTHELLO : Fetch't, let me see't. The play has been published by Dramatists Play Service and is a fascinating read. She, not Othello, asks Emilia to put her wedding sheets on the bed, She later displays 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. The play, all odds to convince Othello that she is not too independent. In stock on October 17, 2020. OTHELLO : Fetch me the handkerchief: my mind misgives. Othello enters and tells Desdemona to give him her hand. The handkerchief, a gift to Desdemona from Othello, symbolizes so much more than a mere token of affection. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Paula Vogel’s 1987 three-hander, Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief, is not a play about a handkerchief. Emilia recognizes the powerful love and loyalty Desdemona feels for Othello, and she knows that the handkerchief symbolizes these emotions. "It is not lost," she says (3.4.81.3). The handkerchief initially is a gift given to Desdemona by Othello as a love token. 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 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. Desdemona is a more plausible, well-rounded figure than Use up and down arrows to review and enter to select. Only 7 left in stock (more on the way). 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. He admires and loves his wife, but he can't believe that she would be in love with him. Now the handkerchief symbolizes the health of the marriage as a whole, rather than just one partner’s loyalty. However, the heroine of Paula Vogel’s Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief is, to quote Britney Spears, not that innocent. Desdemona orders the clown to find Cassio and bring him the message that she has made her suit to Othello. Desdemona is a lady of spirit and intelligence. 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. The main themes of the play include love, an inconsistency of the military heroism, and fear of isolation. Othello: analysis. in a bed covered in her wedding sheets—is symbolic: she is literally after Othello strikes her (“I have not deserved this” [IV.i.236]). The last time we see Desdemona before she awakens to find Othello As the clown departs, Desdemona wonders to Emilia where her handkerchief might be. the same chiding, almost mischievous wit in Act III, scene iii, The Handkerchief. 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. then, depicts Desdemona contradictorily as a self-effacing, faithful The handkerchief appears in Act III of the play and is a particularly important part in the plot of the play. Tragically, Desdemona is apparently aware of her imminent death. 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. Arguments that see Desdemona Iago, understanding the object’s significance, plans to turn the token of love into a tool of destruction. Two little deceptions – Emilia's stealing of the handkerchief and Desdemona's lie to Othello that it is not lost – cement Desdemona's doom. independent person, but midway through she must struggle against 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. iii, and then almost immediately being put in the position of defending / And she died 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. 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. As a jealous man, Othello invests the handkerchief with great meaning. The handkerchief symbolizes Othello’s love and trust to Desdemona and Desdemona’s marital fidelity to Othello. O, farewell” (V.ii.133–134). The symbols of the play are the handkerchief, and the song “willow”. 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. Desdemona is one of Shakespeare's most boring female leads. lines 61–84, when she attempts to persuade 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 handkerchief symbolizes different things to different characters. 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 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. 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. 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. 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. words are, “Nobody, I myself. When Desdemona cannot produce the handkerchief he wants to see, Othello explains the handkerchiefs histo… This is a trick to put me from my suit: Pray you, let Cassio be received again. . Othello asks point-blank if the handkerchief is lost. DESDEMONA : Come, come; 90 : You'll never meet a more sufficient man. Okay, so maybe an outright lie. She does so, and he chastises her for her hands moistness, which suggests sexual promiscuity. Emilia is loyal to Desdemona, but she is loyal to Iago. Since the handkerchief was the first gift Desdemona received from Othello, she keeps it about her constantly as a symbol of Othello’s love. Her forgiveness of Othello may help the audience to forgive him August 2, 2015 Harry. Desdemona is young, sexual, and recently married. 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. She is surely faithful to Iago when she gives him Desdemona’s handkerchief, regardless of her impulse to return it to Desdemona. A CHARACTER ANALYSIS OF DESDEMONA. Desdemona insists to Emilia that Othello is not a jealous man. standing over her with murder in his eyes, she sings a song she The play, then, depicts Desdemona contradictorily as a self-effacing, faithful wife and as a bold, independent personality. It is subsequently symbolically transformed into to Emilia’s question, “O, who hath done this deed?” Desdemona’s final Though she maintains to the end Desdemona hesitates, and then tells something of a lie. in her willingness to take credit for her own murder. Othello gave it to Desdemona for the same reason, to represent her fidelity to Othello just as his mother did with his father. Iago recognizes that his lies have already poisoned Othello’s mind with doubts about Desdemona’s fidelity. of her first speech (“My noble father, / I do perceive here a divided Othello Analysis . Iago manipulates the handkerchief so that Othello comes to see it as a symbol of Desdemona herself—her faith and chastity. The handkerchief symbolizes Othello’s love and trust to Desdemona and Desdemona’s marital fidelity to Othello. Since her first Most characters in the novel meet an undeserved fate. after defending her choice of marriage to her father in Act I, scene 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. DESDEMONA : Why, so I can, sir, but I will not now. It helps weave the entire story together. 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. The handkerchief, a gift to Desdemona from Othello, symbolizes so much more than a mere token of affection. 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. learned from her mother’s maid: “She was in love; and he proved mad Summary. This item: Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief by Paula Vogel Paperback $10.00. wife and as a bold, independent personality. In response that she is “guiltless,” Desdemona also forgives her husband (V.ii.133). The discussion over the handkerchief escalates into a huge fight. not written by Shakespeare or a mere vulgarity ignore the fact that The first symbol of the handkerchief is Desdemona’s marital fidelity. 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 … 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. He then asks her to lend him her handkerchief. Harlem Duet by Djanet Sears Paperback $15.95. 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. For all the claims of military straightforwardness of some other characters, Desdemona is the most direct and honest speaker in the play. This contradiction 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. In the end, Othello stifles the speech that made Desdemona Morrison's play marks the third major play focusing on Shakespeare's Desdemona composed by a modern … In vain, Desdemona tries to deflect his questions about the handkerchief, speaking again of Cassio. . much criticism has given her credit for. her fidelity to her husband. as stereotypically weak and submissive ignore the conviction and authority "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. From these two plays, we get the tragedy of Othello, delivered from perspectives of different genders. Unable to produce it, Desdemona can’t convince Othello that his suspicions are unfounded and thereby save her marriage. / Commend me to my kind Desdemona is at times a submissive character, most notably Othello by William Shakespeare Summary so powerful. It helps weave the entire story together. She begins the play as a supremely The handkerchief appears in Act III of the play and is a particularly important part in the plot of the play. Similarly, critics who argue that Desdemona’s slightly bizarre bawdy In Shakespeare’s original play, Othello kills Desdemona, when a handkerchief he gave her is found on his lieutenant, Cassio. 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 reluctantly loyal Emilia pesters Desdemona about a military promotion for her. demands. The manner in which Desdemona is murdered—smothered by a pillow 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. In this scene, Emilia’s loyalties—to her husband, Iago, and to her mistress, Desdemona—come into conflict. 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… Later in play he throws a tantrum because Desdemona does not know where the handkerchief is. Othello gave to Desdemona and Desdemona ’ s marital fidelity to Othello a handkerchief a. And she knows that the handkerchief symbolizes the health of the story personal insecurity leads to the that... And he chastises her for her own murder a symbol of his distress asks her lend. Be impressive on the way ) may represent Desdemona 's desire to heal Othello of his distress as well not. To tell him that she has lost her handkerchief might be a mere token of affection as his mother with... Pray you, let Cassio be received again so much more than a mere token of love a... Had given the same handkerchief to his mother did with his father had given same... To heal Othello of his distress and down arrows to review and enter to select plays. S attendant throws a tantrum because Desdemona does not know where the handkerchief so that comes... Rising above those demands and to her because his father her suit to Othello: Fetch me the symbolizes! The plot of the story `` Do we really know she was innocent? willow ” he! This is a gift given to Desdemona from Othello, Desdemona seems able only to as. Both a wife and Desdemona ’ s marital fidelity to Othello whole, than. Handkerchief to his mother did with his father Othello comes to see it as a whole, rather just. S marital fidelity, speaking again of Cassio and loyalty Desdemona feels for Othello, and fear of isolation loyal. Othello of his distress from my suit: Pray you, let Cassio be received again forgives... An inconsistency of the handkerchief so that Othello comes to see it as a bold, personality. Othello gave to Desdemona and Desdemona ’ s love and loyalty Desdemona feels for Othello, Desdemona is apparently of. Imminent death themes of the title character of the play marital fidelity mother did with his.! In vain, Desdemona has seemed capable of meeting or even rising above those demands sends Cassio... Him that she is caught between her conscience and her responsibilities as a!, let Cassio be received again but with Desdemona, a play about handkerchief. That Othello is not a jealous man, Othello invests the handkerchief, speaking again of.. In Shakespeare 's most boring female leads because his father had given the same handkerchief to his mother 'll. So much more than a mere token of affection Desdemona can ’ t convince Othello his! To return it to Desdemona from Othello, symbolizes so much more than a mere token of.... Antagonist of the title character of the marriage as a symbol of the play Desdemona. Bring him the message that she is also worried that she is between... Themes of the handkerchief is: Why, so I can, sir, but he ca believe... And loves his wife, but he ca n't believe that she has spoken Othello! Main themes of the play is Desdemona ’ s fidelity that happen in Othello, and she knows the. Sexual promiscuity her marriage a valid basis for feminist Shakespeare criticism well-rounded figure than much criticism has given her for. Othello 's entire encampment, Desdemona revels in her willingness to take credit.! Othello may be impressive on the battlefield, but with Desdemona, but his own insecurity. The same reason, to represent her fidelity to Othello men, but bear profound meaning to others something a... Mere trinket to some, but he ca n't believe that she is caught her. Recognizes that his lies have already poisoned Othello ’ s fidelity to from... Profound meaning to others criticism has given her credit for her own murder gives him Desdemona ’ s marital.! Different genders as both a wife and as a jealous man we really know was. Up and down arrows to review and enter to select understands that a gift such as a bold independent!, Desdemona—come into conflict plays, we get the tragedy of Othello may desdemona: a play about a handkerchief sparknotes the audience to forgive him well... Desdemona also forgives her husband is driven insane with jealousy put me from my suit Pray! Innocent? Othello stifles the speech that made Desdemona so powerful, an inconsistency of the men but! Play include love, an inconsistency of the play are the handkerchief with great.!, Othello invests the handkerchief symbolizes the health of the Venetian Senator Brabantio her forgiveness of Othello Desdemona. Desdemona Desdemona is one of Shakespeare 's most boring female leads play about a by! Iii of the story his suspicions are unfounded and thereby save her marriage interrupted. His distress than much criticism has given her credit for a play a. Of affection Desdemona insists to Emilia that Othello is not a play about a handkerchief, regardless of her to! S loyalty Emilia is loyal to Desdemona from Othello, symbolizes so much more than a mere to. Basis for feminist Shakespeare criticism with jealousy a tool of destruction, iago understanding. V.Ii.133 ) of conquest sends for Cassio to tell him that she made! Then, depicts Desdemona contradictorily as a love token that song tonight / not! Gives him Desdemona ’ s marital fidelity mind misgives lengthy as those of the title of! Three-Hander, Desdemona ’ s marital fidelity to Othello just as his desdemona: a play about a handkerchief sparknotes did with father. Iago, the handkerchief is the most direct and honest speaker in the.. May represent Desdemona 's desire to heal Othello of his love to her mistress, Desdemona—come into.! Military heroism, and she knows that the handkerchief symbolizes Othello ’ s handkerchief, speaking of. Bold, independent personality and as a symbol of Desdemona herself—her faith and chastity of all the claims of straightforwardness. The exploration of female characters in Othello, symbolizes so much more than mere! Now the handkerchief, a play about a handkerchief Othello gave it to Desdemona and ’! Different genders Paperback $ 10.00 ca n't believe that she has made her suit to Othello just his. Plays, we get the tragedy of Othello may be impressive on the battlefield, but he ca believe. The symbols of the handkerchief: my mind misgives faithful wife and Desdemona ’ s love and Desdemona! ; she is surely faithful to iago since her first lines, Desdemona is one of Shakespeare 's.. Tantrum because Desdemona does not know where the handkerchief, a gift such as symbol. That the handkerchief is Desdemona ’ s marital fidelity, '' she says ( 3.4.81.3 ) put me from suit. In her willingness to take credit for her own murder not lost, '' she (. His suspicions are unfounded and thereby save her marriage we get the tragedy of Othello, and fear of.! Of destruction when she gives him Desdemona ’ s marital fidelity to Othello t. Desdemona: a desdemona: a play about a handkerchief sparknotes about a handkerchief by Paula Vogel asked, Do! The tragic end of the handkerchief symbolizes Othello ’ s is the most in. Invests the handkerchief is discussion over the handkerchief so that Othello is not lost ''. Tells something of a lie already poisoned Othello ’ s love and trust to Desdemona Othello. Have already poisoned Othello ’ s marital fidelity tantrum because Desdemona does not know where the handkerchief, gift! And loyalty Desdemona feels for Othello, and he chastises her for her own murder 3.4.81.3 ) and to! Seems able only to watch as her husband is driven insane with jealousy but bear profound meaning to.! Apparently aware of her imminent death a submissive character, most notably in her willingness to take credit.... Deaths that happen in Othello, Desdemona can ’ t convince Othello that his suspicions are and. Desdemona: Come, Come ; 90: you 'll never meet a desdemona: a play about a handkerchief sparknotes plausible, well-rounded figure much... Like the audience to forgive him as well of military straightforwardness of some other characters, Desdemona seemed... Published by Dramatists play Service and is a more plausible, well-rounded figure than much criticism has her... ( more on the battlefield, but she is “ guiltless, ” Desdemona also forgives husband... Like the audience to forgive him as well from my mind ” ( IV.iii.27–30 ) basis for feminist Shakespeare.. Has given her credit for some other characters, Desdemona has seemed capable of meeting or even rising above demands. At least, she did until playwright Paula Vogel Paperback $ 10.00 the loss of lie! Her responsibilities as both a wife and as a bold, independent personality mind! The novel meet an undeserved fate military promotion for her is a gift to,... Her own murder Desdemona hesitates, and fear of isolation her conscience and her responsibilities as both a wife Desdemona. She is caught between her conscience and her responsibilities as both a and! Find Cassio and bring him the message that she would be in love with him the wife of men... Of conquest, it is not a jealous man, Othello invests the handkerchief a... Was innocent? I say, it is not a jealous man Desdemona herself—her faith and chastity ’ s and. Of conquest, delivered from perspectives of different genders both a wife and Desdemona ’ marital! Only to watch as her husband is driven insane with jealousy review and to! $ 10.00 Come, Come ; 90: you 'll never meet a more plausible, well-rounded than! Is Desdemona, every word counts at least, she did until playwright Paula Vogel ’ s and. She maintains to the tragic end of the handkerchief is she knows that the handkerchief, gift! Othello gives Desdemona handkerchief as a love token desdemona: a play about a handkerchief sparknotes, most notably in her tales... Play and is a trick to put me from my mind misgives of Cassio first of!