Troilus And Cressida And Othello — страница 3

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these particular strawberries were woven of silk from sacred worms which was then colored with dye derived from the hearts of mummified maidens (3.4.75-6). In other words, every aspect of the handkerchief is entirely pure and holy in its components yet sensuous in its subject matter. In this way, the hankerchief can represent Desdemona and her honest and pure sensuality (1.3.257-62). However, the visual image the description of the token creates?that of a white ground spotted with red?also suggests tainted purity, thus reminding the reader of the unused wedding sheets of Othello and Desdemona. Blood is a constant image in the speech of all characters in the play and with each reference, it takes on a slightly different meaning. Primarily, one is aware that blood connotes a

tainted, stained, or dishonest nature in someone. For instance, when Desdemona tries to defend her honesty (i.e.: chastity) against Othello?s accusations toward the end of the play, she says ?I hope my noble lord esteems me honest,? to which Othello replies ?O, ay, as summer flies are in the shambles,/ That quicken even with blowing? (4.2.67-9). In his reply to how honest and chaste he deems her, Othello compares Desdemona to an image of flies living in a slaughterhouse in the summer heat?living on bloody, rotting (read: corrupt) flesh, which is bloated with maggots. The description of blood-covered flesh full of maggots is how Othello sees the filth of disloyalty?bloody and impregnated. This image of a body filled with flesh-eating larvae is reminiscent of a description Iago

gives of jealousy personified. In that excerpt, he warns Othello ?O, beware, my lord, of jealousy./ It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock/ The meat it feeds on? (3.3.178-80). This all-consuming double image of sin and jealousy as things festering in and living off of the characters in which they take root implies the corruption not of the bodies inhabited but the lies with which their minds are obsessed?each image imbued with an implication of blood and passion. What is fascinating is the transformation through which the meaning of blood goes with a completely different reading of the play. In a way, Desdemona?s honor is maintained and her purity and virtue emphasized. The man who manipulates Othello to the point of killing her is Iago. The first word Iago utters in the

play is ? ?Sblood?? (1.1.4), a contraction of the saying ?by His (Christ?s) blood? (footnote, 1.1.4). This helps to set an initially sacred ground for the significance of blood. In addition, this play more than others employs the expression ?Zounds? (1.1.88, 111, etc.), a contraction of ?by His (Christ?s) wounds? (footnote, 1.1.88). The wounds Iago inflicts on the character of Desdemona are not actual physical wounds, but the figurative blood she sheds as a result could be equated with the wounds and blood of Christ, as it is pure and virtuous. In one scene, while Othello repeatedly demands the handkerchief of Desdemona she ignores him, pleading Cassio?s case. Othello becomes enraged and leaves, frustrated and angry, with an exasperated cry of ?Zounds!? (3.4.100). The placement

of the expression in this context seems to imply Desdemona?s innocence even as she asks after her supposed lover and is questioned as to the whereabouts of the symbolic little token. Perhaps, subconsciously, Othello knows that she is not at fault and is still honest. Even at the brink of mental and emotional collapse because of the confusion he has as to Desdemona?s honesty, Othello uses this expression again when questioning whether or not Cassio has slept with her: ?Lie with her? Lie on her? We say, ?lie on her? when they belie [slander] her. Lie with her? Zounds, that?s fulsome [foul]? (4.1.35-7). In this segment, Othello is debating whether or not his wife participated in dishonest deeds with Cassio?the use of ?with??or whether it is merely an accusation flung upon her?thus,

?lie on her??in which case she is not guilty, but passive and helpless. Yet again, his use of ?Zounds? brings into question whether or not he is truly convinced of Desdemona?s involvement in a sordid affair with Cassio. He is not sure whether the wounds which result from the first intercourse of a virgin have been incurred, or whether she is still virtuous and pure as Christ, inflicted with wounds of slander. It is perhaps because of this idealized image of her, which he has maintained in his subconscious, that he chooses to smother her in bed. Chopping her ?into messes [bits]? (4.1.199), as he had originally thought to kill her, would have shed her blood by way of his penetrating her flesh with a blade, implying that this blood-shed would be the first for her and caused by his