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Pitying Desdemona In Folio Othello: Race, Gender And The Willow Song

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 August 2022

Emma Smith
Affiliation:
University of Oxford
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Summary

Pity is a major emotion in Shakespearian tragedy, but its relation to critical race studies and gender studies has been comparatively under-examined.2 Pity fundamentally depends on an exchange of sympathy between the pitying, often in a position of advantage or at least of security, and the pitied, typically in a position of disadvantage. In Shakespeare’s era, and in many before and since, differences in race and gender have entailed certain advantages and disadvantages: in his England, white male figures (at least those of a certain class) typically possessed more legal advantages than female figures or persons of other races.3 Attentive to difference regarding both race and gender, Othello draws pity from audiences through its portrayals of these intertwined concerns, brought together pointedly through the marriage of Othello and Desdemona.

Type
Chapter
Information
Shakespeare Survey 75
Othello
, pp. 148 - 165
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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