shakespeare final

shakespeare final - 1. A poor soul sat sighing by a...

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1. A poor soul sat sighing by a sycamore tree- Othello Othello- Act 4, scene 3: Desdemona singing After dinner, Othello proposes to walk with Lodovico, and sends Desdemona to bed, telling her that he will be with her shortly and that she should dismiss Emilia. Desdemona seems aware of her imminent fate as she prepares for bed. She says that if she dies before Emilia, Emilia should use one of the wedding sheets for her shroud. As Emilia helps her mistress to undress, Desdemona sings a song, called “Willow,” about a woman whose love forsook her. She says she learned the song from her mother’s maid, Barbary, who died singing the song after she had been deserted by her lover. The song makes Desdemona think about adultery, and she asks Emilia whether she would cheat on her husband “for all the world” (IV.iii.62). Emilia says that she would not deceive her husband for jewels or rich clothes, but that the whole world is a huge prize and would outweigh the offense. This leads Emilia to speak about the fact that women have appetites for sex and infidelity just as men do, and that men who deceive their wives have only themselves to blame if their wives cheat on them. Desdemona replies that she prefers to answer bad deeds with good deeds rather than with more bad deeds. She readies herself for bed. When Desdemona tells the story behind the “Willow” song that she sings, she says that the name of her mother’s maid was “Barbary” (IV.iii.25), inadvertently echoing Iago’s description of Othello as a “Barbary horse” (I.i.113). The word refers to the countries along the north coast of Africa, and thus the name suggests an exotic, African element in Desdemona’s background, although the name “Barbary” was in use in Elizabethan England, so Barbary herself wasn’t necessarily African. The song itself is melancholy, and it portrays an attitude of fatalism regarding love, a resigned acceptance of misfortune that Desdemona seems to embrace. “Let nobody blame him, his scorn I approve,” she sings, before realizing that she has supplied the wrong words (IV.iii.50). Desdemona’s attitude toward her chastity represents what Renaissance males wanted and expected of women, and it is certainly what Othello wants from his wife. She sees it as an absolute entity that is worth more to her than her life or ownership of the entire whole world. Emilia, on the other hand, suggests that the ideal of female chastity is overblown and exaggerated. Throughout the scene, Emilia seems to be trying to gently hint that instead of quietly suffering Othello’s abuse, Desdemona ought to look for happiness elsewhere. She argues that women are basically the same as men, and that the two sexes are unfaithful for the same reasons: affection for people other than their spouse, human weakness, and simple desire for enjoyment, or “sport” (IV.iii.95). Contrasted with Othello, who veers between seeing Desdemona as a monumentalized, ideal figure and as a whore with a thousand partners, Emilia’s words do not advocate infidelity so much as a desire for reasonable middle ground, a societal
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  • Spring '10
  • Staff
  • Shakespeare, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, Love, Madness, Revenge, Hamlet, Claudius, Horatio, Laertes, Act 1, Scene 1, Act 1, Scene 4, Act 3, Scene 3, Act 5, Scene 2, Order, Vision, Vision, Blindness, King Lear, Edmund, Edgar, Cordelia, Goneril, Regan, Oswald, Act 1, Scene 1, Act 1, Scene 4, Act 3, Scene 3, Act 5, Scene 2, Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Witches, Banquo, Duncan, Malcolm, Fleance, Ross, Act 1, Scene 1, Act 1, Scene 4, Act 3, Scene 3, Act 5, Scene 2, Act 5, Scene 5, Blindness, Othello, Iago, Desdemona, Cassio, Roderigo, Emilia, Montano, Act 1, Scene 1, Act 3, Scene 3, Act 5, Scene 2

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shakespeare final - 1. A poor soul sat sighing by a...

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