desdemona: a play about a handkerchief sparknotes

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

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