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Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet): from Shakespearean tragedy to postmodern satyr play.

Northrop Frye followed in the footsteps of Aristotle and the author of the Tractatus Coislinianus in his attempt to define and describe the main aspects of the literary genres in the monumental Anatomy of Criticism. For centuries Aristotle's theory of poetics had been understood as prescriptive instead of descriptive; thus any effort to establish a schematic approach to literary theory in the twentieth century--the age of experimentation, rule bending, and wholesale rule breaking--was likely to encounter strong opposition. While there are certain limitations to Frye's schematic system in dealing with many modern and postmodern works that defy classification into any genre, it is precisely the clear delineation of subcategories and elements within the genres that promotes his theory as the most useful in a study of works that either are based upon a prescriptive view of poetics or are contemporary revisions of such works.

I am not suggesting that Shakespeare's notions about dramatic genres were shaped by Aristotle's Poetics, or that he would have necessarily understood them as prescriptive; equally, I am not suggesting that AnnMarie MacDonald necessarily relied on Frye's theory to write her play. I am merely taking Aristotle as an example of a generic theory which, while it may not have directly influenced English Renaissance playwrights or Shakespeare himself, certainly resonates with Horace's much-read Art of Poetry and is exemplified in the much-imitated tragedies of Seneca--two crucial literary forces whose authority during the early modern period became the foundation of the future prescriptive and rigid understanding of genre theory. In a similar fashion, Frye's work is the best twentieth-century example of a schematic approach to literary theory that many understood as prescriptive, and it is, because of his appropriation of Aristotelian terminology, a perfect complement to Aristotle's Poetics in my comparative analysis of dramatic texts from two eras.

For this reason, the full virtuosity and complexity of a postmodern work such as Ann-Marie MacDonald's play Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)--which not only revisits two Renaissance narratives, but appropriates them, revises them, and subverts their original genres by defusing the tragic elements and substituting them with comical ones--can be fully appreciated only through an approach based on a literary theory that clearly delineates the characteristics of and boundaries between the genres. Indeed, as Frye himself points out, the boundaries between the genres are anything but rigid. Rather, these hazy frontier areas where genres are fluid and merge into one another often become the inspirational playground of versatile artists like MacDonald who appear to enjoy thumbing their noses at form.

Othello and Romeo and Juliet are both tragedies, and because much of the humor of MacDonald's play depends on the audience's acquaintance with the source narratives, and in particular on our understanding of the stories as "tragic;' it is necessary first to identify briefly the generic paradigms in the narratives that define them as such.

As both Aristotle and Frye point out, tragedy needs primarily a hero or heroine who is superior in degree to other men and women, but not to his/her environment. The destruction of the hero is typically a product of hamartia, a Greek term that has been traditionally translated either as a "flaw" in character or an "error" in judgment. Without getting trapped in the debate about the theoretical fallacies bred from the possible mistranslations of hamartia, we can generally accept that tragedy properly deals with an individual and the tragic hero's fall as an individual act, an inevitable outcome of the confrontation with an overwhelming and inscrutable force--be it Fate, the will of the gods, the laws of a society, or one's own psyche. Frye explains:
 Tragedy in the central or high mimetic sense, the fiction of the
 fall of a leader (he has to fall because that is the only way in
 which a leader can be
 isolated from his society), mingles the heroic with the ironic....
 The tragic hero has to be of a properly heroic size, but his fall is
 involved both with a sense of his relation to society and with a
 sense of the supremacy of natural law, both of which are ironic in
 reference. (1)

Most importantly, perhaps, Frye identifies another element in tragedy, the Augenblick, or "crucial moment from which point the road to what might have been and the road to what will be can he simultaneously seen." (2) Indeed, the fall of the tragic hero begins at the crossroads of the Augenblick, but it is only the audience who is aware of it; the conventional hubris of the tragic hero blinds him to the fact that he has chosen the wrong road.

Thus all the elements blend together to create the "tragic" effect: hamartia, the hero's personality, and the inevitability of the outcome; but the main "ingredient" appears to be the point of their convergence, the Augenblick. MacDonald seems to be fully aware of this genre-defining moment in a tragic narrative and chooses to alter the source narratives' outcomes by injecting an alien character into each play's Augenblick. This alien entry into the plots destroys the inevitability inherent in the action of the tragic heroes based on their hamartia. But it is the existence of comic elements in the narratives of the two plays prior to the Augenblick that makes the genre transformation easier.

The mythos (3) of comedy, on the other hand, appears to be composed of the virtual opposites of the characteristics of tragedy. Within comedy, however, there is a subdivision into two types: Old and New Comedy As Frye points out, Old Comedy "is dialectical rather than teleological, and its distinguishing feature is the contest or agon." (4) Furthermore, the characters in Old Comedy are "not functions of a plot, but vehicles or embodiments of a contest" which is usually between "personalities as representatives of larger social forces." (5) Thus Old Comedy appears to have a distinctly socially corrective character in being suited to political and other forms of satire. On the other hand, New Comedy is characterized by a "teleological plot, in which, as a rule, an alienated lover moves toward sexual fulfillment." (6) Since New Comedy has been the dominant comic form in literature for almost two thousand years, and since its formulas in particular are those being used by Shakespeare and subverted by MacDonald, henceforth I will use the word comedy and its derivatives (unless otherwise specified) to refer to the characteristics of New Comedy.

The comic hero and heroine are superior neither to other people nor to their environment; he/she is typically the least "interesting" character onstage, and the narrative centers on the hero's overcoming of opposition to an amorous courtship. (7) According to Frye, following the anagnorisis, or recognition, scene in which all mysteries are resolved, the happy ending represents a nuptial festival, a rebirth of the hero as a character with a substantial life that could thenceforward be termed "interesting" but that continues offstage, and the advent of a new society built around the hero and his bride. Where tragedy is individual and has an air of inevitability, comedy has a distinctly social effect, and there are no laws or forces that cannot be evaded. As Frye states:
 [T]he plots of comedy often are complicated because there is
 something inherently absurd about complications. As the main
 character interest in a comedy so often focussed on the defeated
 characters, comedy regularly illustrates a victory of arbitrary
 plot over consistency of character. Thus, in striking contrast to
 tragedy, there can hardly be such a thing as inevitable comedy, as
 far as the action of the individual play is concerned.... The
 watcher of death and tragedy has nothing to do but sit and wait for
 the inevitable end; but something gets born at the end of comedy,
 and the watcher of birth is a member of a busy society. (8)

Numerous critics have discovered the presence of the elements of both types of mythoi in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and Othello. In fact, it can be said that the plays seem to open with one genre or outcome in mind, and then change directions in midstride. Juliet Dusinberre suggests, for example, that the tragic decorum of a play in Shakespeare's time could have been subverted by an unruly audience lacking "theatrical education." (9) She also points out, however, that the comic potential embedded in the text of a play like Othello could easily be brought out by a trick in performance: "a skillful and unscrupulous Iago and a poorly acted Othello can return the play to comedy." (10) No doubt, a dilettantish performance can drag even the most sublime poetry through the gutter, but it is no accident that Othello and Romeo and Juliet are mentioned by critics who discuss the dangers inherent in violations of dramatic decorum. The narratives of both plays contain the blossoms of Frye's spring mythos, and even the autumnal bloodbaths at their conclusions do not manage to drown them completely.

In fact, critics agree that the two genres were not as radically opposed to each other in an audience's mind in classical Greece and the Renaissance as they are today. The comic Greek satyr play that came at the end of a cycle of three tragedies had its clear equivalent in the Renaissance, and the attitudes of the audiences in the two epochs seem to have been analogous. As Stephen Orgel explains:
 [C]omedy had its place as an adjunct to tragedy, necessary but
 nevertheless dependent. There is a generic truth in this: the tragic
 purgation of the state and the spirit and the reassertion of norms
 that is the end of tragedy leave us in the world of comedy. Tragedy
 is what makes comedy possible--or, putting it another way, comedy is
 the end of tragedy--and the Renaissance liked to emphasize this
 aspect of tragedy by concluding its tragedies with jigs. (11)

Orgel goes on to state that "if inevitability is a requisite of tragedy, neither play will qualify for the genre" and brands Othello and Romeo and Juliet "the most iffy dramas in the Shakespeare canon." (12) After noting the mixed elements of tragedy and comedy in both plays, he concludes that Shakespeare and his audience must have "thought of genres not as sets of rules but as sets of expectations and possibilities. Comedy and tragedy were not forms: they were shared assumptions." (13) If the seeds of comedy are indeed present in the texts of both "tragedies" and if the audience of Shakespeare's day would not have been surprised or repulsed by genre mutations on the stage, there should be little wonder at the ease with which MacDonald manages to transform the two source narratives into their generic opposites.

The first two acts of Romeo and Juliet promise romantic comedy, but, as Susan Snyder points out, the action and the characters that begin in "familiar comic patterns ... are then transformed--or discarded--to compose the pattern of tragedy." (14) It is easy to identify the stock comic characters: the senex iratus, or angry father, as the main blocking character in old Capulet, the helpful servant in the Nurse, (15) the playful trickster in Mercutio, and the separated lovers in Romeo and Juliet. Romeo certainly fits Frye's model of the comic hero; he is not at all "interesting" in the beginning of the play while he is overshadowed by Mercutio and passes from a false love for Rosaline expressed through conventional Petrarchan sentiment, to a "true" love for Juliet expressed through a more original set of conceits. (16) The abundance of bawdy language, sexual allusion, brawling, exaggerated sentiment, and festivity belongs more properly to a comedy than to a tragic universe. However, the "seed" of tragedy is ever present even in that comical spring, and is located in the character of Tybalt. If the play had remained a comedy, Tybalt could easily have been understood as an example of Ben Jonson's notion of the "man of humor" a character completely dominated by a single passion or a "predictable reaction"--in Tybalt's case a violent rage. (17) Snyder argues further that in the first "comic" half of the play Tybalt must be overruled as he is "a recognizably tragic character, the only one in this part of the play. He alone takes the feud seriously: it is his inner law, the propeller of his fiery nature. He speaks habitually in the tragic rhetoric of honour and death." (18) And it is precisely Tybalt's action at the Augenblick in act 3, scene 1, that alters the course of the narrative and changes the genre of the play. The duel, set on a hot Verona day when "the mad blood [is] stirring" (3.1.4), (19) is the symbolic dash of two emblematic characters: Tybalt as the spirit of tragedy and rigid law, and Mercutio as the spirit of comedy and fantasy.

The outcome of the duel is today the stuff of lore. But it is no accident that references to Fate and the "stars" proliferate after this point. Likewise, it is no accident that as MacDonald's Constance Ledbelly makes her entry into the world of Shakespeare's Verona precisely at this moment in the plot she knows full well that it is the Augenblick and that a revelation of the secret wedding between Romeo and Juliet will not only save Mercutio's life, but it will also defuse the murderous tension that spawns tragedy. Death, an indecorous element in comedy, is averted, and MacDonald's plot can proceed from complication to complication, each more outrageous than the last, in the true fashion of comedy and farce.

The "comical" beginning of Othello is not as festive as in Romeo and Juliet, but the text contains just as many comedic elements and lends itself to an equally easy reversal back to comedy. It is commonly accepted that the plot of the play is dominated by the scheming of one character bent on his own advancement, Iago, but he has been variously identified by critics. W. H. Auden establishes him as a"practical joker" type, (20) while others have seen in him an echo of the Zanni, the trickster meneur-dejeu from the Italian commedia delrarte, (21) a "tragic version of the servus callidus," (22) or clever slave typical of a Roman New Comedy, or even an echo of the Vice/Devil type from medieval morality plays. (23) As powerful as the role of this one character is in the development of the events of Othello, he is not the only comic type present in the narrative.

Brabantio, Desdemona's father, is a typical senex iratus in his opposition to his daughter's marriage to the Moor, and there are even elements of the cuckolded husband or old fool (the Pantalone character from the commedia) in his character as his first appearance follows a series of lewd jokes by Iago aimed at his ignorance of Desdemona's nuptial bliss. (24) Roderigo and Cassio, as well as Emilia and Bianca, all belong to the cast of characters common to comedy, but they do not need separate treatment since they do not appear in MacDonald's play. The tragic hero, Othello, does, however. In the first act of Othello, the Moor is a lover who must obtain the legitimization of his courtship of Desdemona, and he must overcome the multiple obstacles of the senex, racial prejudice, and religious charges of witchcraft. In the course of the trial (1.3.), the story of Othello's courtship comes out, and the audience understands that it was his storytelling that won him Desdemona's love. He concludes his oration, "She loved me for the dangers I had passed,/And I loved her that she did pity them" (1.3.166-67), and the duke comments, "I think this tale would win my daughter too" (1.3.170), thereby symbolically conferring upon him the approval and affection of the fictional world's power structures while simultaneously defining Othello as a stock comic character, the miles gloriosus, or braggart soldier.

But Othello appears to be a "tragic inversion" of the miles gloriosus in whom Shakespeare "inverts the comic stereotype for tragic effect." (25) He is a skilled orator, and there is no evidence of comical exaggeration in his characterization by Shakespeare. In fact, it could be argued that if one desired to restore the narrative of Othello to the genre of comedy, it would not be enough to inject an alien character into the Augenblick as was the case in Romeo and Juliet; one would have to restore Othello to the comic type of the miles gloriosus. And this is precisely what MacDonald does.

The Augenblick in Othello is not a single event that could be changed to avert tragedy. In fact, it is a rather long scene (3.3.) at the beginning of which Othello's jealousy is kindled for the first time, but which concludes 480 lines later with his resolve to murder his wife. Iago's diabolical work is spread out across this pivotal scene, yet there is no single pivotal moment. However, just as Mercutio's death is the tragic vehicle in Romeo and Juliet, there is an object that acts as a similar catalyst of tragedy in Othello--the handkerchief.

MacDonald evidently recognizes the crucial importance of the entire scene, and of the handkerchief itself, as she injects Constance into the plot of Othello not to stop the murder of Desdemona or to participate in a rhetorical wrestling match with Iago to win the mind of the Moor, but simply to "pluck the handkerchief from Iago's hose and give it to Othello" (24). (26) Thus the murderous tension is defused and tragedy is averted, and the characters can take on a new comic life granted to them by MacDonald. This new life is so vibrant from its very inception that in an aside Constance voices what seems to be the first of MacDonald's many comments on her rhetorical motive (27) in composing the play: "I've wrecked a masterpiece. I've ruined the play, /I've turned Shakespeare's Othello to a farce" (25).

As the narrative takes off in a new direction, both Iago and Othello lose their central roles. Due to the modern audience's acquaintance with the subtext of MacDonald's play and in particular with Othello's oratory, he soon begins to sound like a typical miles gloriosus, as his high rhetorical style becomes comically indecorous with the absurd events around him, and he clearly becomes a figure of comic relief as the other characters ignore him or interrupt him in the middle of a poetic oration (26).

Had MacDonald relied on merely defusing the Augenblick of either play to create her comedy, her play would not have proven very original or worthy of critical interest. The pivotal scenes in Shakespeare are clear, and the presence of comic elements in each play makes genre mutations possible. In fact, the "thesis" of Constance Ledbelly's research is misleading and should not be confused with the "thesis" or rhetorical motive of MacDonald's play. Constance postulates that the entrance of a "Fool" would "defuse the tragedies by assuming centre stage as comic hero" (14), but, as we have just seen, if the "entry" itself were of any consequence, tragedy could have been averted by any kind of character, Fool or otherwise, as the main point would have been to defuse the tension of the Augenblick through the revelation of a secret in an imitation of the comedic anagnorisis. The town crier, passing through the middle of the square where the duel is about to occur and proclaiming that Romeo and Juliet have been married, would just as easily save Mercutio's life as a mysterious "Fool" while even a mute attendant could be as effective as Constance and hand Othello the handkerchief.

Therefore, the issue of the pivotal role of the "Fool" is not at all what MacDonald's play is about. After the Augenblick of each source narrative is tampered with, the resulting stories develop in completely new directions, and thus Constance's "thesis," however superficial, should not arrest our attention. The rest of MacDonald's play is much more complex than the mere injection and meddling of a "Fool"; and hence before we proceed to a discussion of the effects of MacDonald's genre bending, it is very important to stop to look at the wealth of devices MacDonald implements to transform the tragedy bred from a "comedy gone awry" back into the comic mode. According to Mark Fortier: "On the broadest scale, Goodnight Desdemona is a multiple parody and reworking of Shakespeare's genres, 'a comical Shakespearean romance.' And while Shakespearean tragedy explodes with the tricks of Shakespearean comedy, Shakespeare explodes with the tricks of our own popular culture." (28)

Aristotle defines six qualitative parts of tragedy, which, according to the Tractatus Coislinianus, are present in comedy as well; their universality is recognized by Northrop Frye, who adopts Aristotelian terminology as the backbone of his own literary theory: plot (mythos), character (ethos), thought (dianoia), diction, song, and spectacle. (29) Since song is not present in Goodnight Desdemona, and spectacle refers to the particular way in which a play is performed on the stage (and thus may vary from occasion to occasion), I turn to a discussion of the ways in which MacDonald converts the source narratives from tragedy to comedy on the remaining four levels: plot, character, thought (or meaning), and diction.

On the level of plot, I have already noted that the initial method was to inject an alien character at the point of the Augenblick to defuse the tension from which the tragic outcome becomes inevitable. The result in both cases, naturally, is a plot that has nothing in common with either of the source narratives. Since these resulting mythoi contain no points of "conversion" and are entirely invented and original, we may now proceed to MacDonald's development of character, about which something has already been said as well.

In general terms, MacDonald seems to be using three methods on the level of ethos to convert the source narrative from tragedy to comedy: elimination, manipulation, and invention. There is a wholesale elimination of characters that exist in Shakespeare's versions of the stories, but this is not at all surprising since MacDonald's rhetorical motive differs from that of the Renaissance playwright. Most of the characters who disappear would be useless in the new comic world she constructs, and Constance herself absorbs the roles of many of them: she becomes the catalyst of comedy, the figure of romantic advisor, and even the ultimate term of several courtships. (30) The resulting narrative is unhinged and loses its traditional "center" as it becomes what Marta Dvorak calls a multi-centered "feminist dramatic comedy." (31) The nature of the "argument" of the play as a love-plot leading to a new society is not affected because the characters are not completely gone. Rather, their rhetorical roles live on in the character of Constance. Yet, there is one character-type that is eliminated without being substituted or absorbed by another character, and his disappearance changes the nature of the new society created around the heroine at the end of

the play: the senex iratus.

The wrathful father is typically the embodiment of the rigid patriarchal law governing a society, and traditionally New Comedy appears to have focused on the overcoming of his opposition to a wedding. Usually, the senex is the young woman's father, and he either has to be exiled from the new society or re-educated to fit into it. Furthermore, traditionally there is never any question about the nature of sexuality in the nascent society: the senex as progenitor and aging figure of male fertility acts as the guarantor of heterosexuality and the "natural" way. His "approval" of a suitor could always be interpreted as a symbolic transference of his generative power onto a new generation and the investiture of a new senex.

Even though MacDonald is "uncomfortable" thinking of Goodnight Desdemona as a "feminist" or "lesbian" work and "prefers to think of it as humanism through a woman's point of view, or through feminist language," (32) the new society she constructs around her heroine reflects the author's political and sexual stance, and the archetypal guardian of patriarchy and heterosexuality as the "natural" way must be eliminated. Therefore, it is no accident that neither the parents of Romeo and Juliet nor Desdemona's father, and certainly not the Friar whose role as a cleric provides sacral sanction to heterosexuality, appear in any shape in MacDonald's play. The characters onstage are predominantly women, while the men who appear clearly belong to the younger generation. The overall effect is the creation of a carnivalesque spirit of youth and uninhibited sexuality.

MacDonald's next method, manipulation, is twofold: she either exaggerates the character present in Shakespeare or deflates it. I have already explained how the character of Othello is deflated from the status of tragic hero to the stock type of the miles gloriosus and suggested that his fate is shared by Iago. In fact, Iago is deflated in a different fashion from Othello. MacDonald undercuts his importance as an initiator and shaper of events--his role now having been assumed by Constance--by demoting him in the fictional society to the level of a latrine cleaner. Hence he is returned to the typically comic role of the disgruntled servant desperately trying to scheme his way out of his predicament, though he is never quite up to the task. The comic effect of his character is heightened by the gap between the audience's knowledge of the source character and narrative and his "new" fate on the stage.

The major example of exaggeration as a method of conversion of character from tragic to comic is evident in MacDonald's Juliet. She seizes upon hints of Juliet's predisposition for histrionics in the source play, couples them with a "realistic" or psychological interpretation of her character as passionate and bordering on nymphomania based on the speed of her relationship with Romeo, and adds a touch of suicidal angst to create a character that is at once a parody of Shakespeare's heroine and of late-twentieth-century teenagers overwhelmed by their hormones. As in the case of the other characters, the gap between audience expectation and performance enhances her humorous effect. But in her role as the passionate lover, or the archetypal woman in her sensual aspect, Juliet plays a symbolic role, along with Desdemona and Constance herself, in constructing the Jungian Trinity, or the "tripartite woman." (33) I shall return to this point.

Similarly, Romeo is exaggerated through an inflation of his "loving to love" trait, which in MacDonald's version is taken to an extreme since he is not even concerned about the gender of the objects of his love. This is in accord with the character of MacDonald's new society and is not comic in itself, although the incongruity of the two versions of Romeo certainly is.

The final method of character conversion is invention. MacDonald completely reinvents Desdemona, and her character is virtually everything Shakespeare's heroine is not. She is loud, tempestuous, violent, and generally unafraid of anyone or anything. If there is any link between the two conceptions of the character, MacDonald's seems to be based on the "original" Desdemona's love for adventure which she exercises vicariously by enjoying Othello's tales and boldly following her husband to war where she even condescends to live in a military garrison. Naturally, Desdemona's character also fits the humorous recipe of the gap between expectation and performance, and symbolically acts as the "woman of action" aspect of the Jungian Trinity.

Constance Ledbelly, of course, is an entirely invented character and does not exist in any shape in Shakespeare. Her presence adds a whole new dimension to MacDonald's play that merits a discussion in itself, but since this essay is concerned primarily with the methods of conversion of one genre to another--and with the author's methods of adaptation of two source narratives--it must suffice at this point to make only a few brief observations. As the heroine and catalyst of comedy in Goodnight Desdemona, Constance is simultaneously the "author" of the new narrative and the "proof" to support her own theory of the "meddling Fool." This dual role redefines the play as a metacomedy concerned with itself and its own writing, and imbues the art form with distinctly postmodern theoretical concerns. Finally, as the third member of the Trinity, she provides the intellectual aspect to the tripartite vision of ideal femininity.

I have already mentioned several times the "gap" between the subtext of MacDonald's play and the surface narrative. It is the discord between the audience's expectation based upon an acquaintance with the source narratives and the characters in them, and the revision of these that the viewers encounter upon seeing the performance. As I mentioned earlier, the comic reworking of Shakespearean characters such as Othello, Desdemona, Romeo, and Juliet depends entirely on this gap for its effect.

The version of the character on the stage is entirely incongruous with the notion the viewer brings into the theater, and the dash creates a reaction consistent with the genre of comedy or farce.

Similarly, much of MacDonald's humor relies on the audience's acquaintance with the emblematic speeches from the source plays that in their original context serve to define the characters and mark the rise in action--particularly in act 3, scene 3, of Othello when the tragic hero approaches the Augenblick. In Goodnight Desdemona we see the scenes acted initially with a "proper" assignment of lines that reinforces the audience's knowledge of the narratives and their themes, but once Constance is injected into the plots of the "originals" and the pivotal points are defused, the same lines are reassigned and reshuffled among the characters--a technique that elicits laughter through their absurd incongruity. Indeed, even the lethal weapons used in the original plays become the source of humor, as we see in the "pillow-passing" scenes.

The pillow is seen for the first time when Iago hands it to Othello (24) in a reinforcement of the audience's preconception of the plot, and it is consistent with tragedy. Moments later, when she tries to reverse her actions by returning the handkerchief to Iago's pocket, Constance hands the pillow back to Othello (25) in a scene replete with the absurd. And the third time the pillow-passing occurs, it is Iago who hands it to the incensed Desdemona at the very close of the second act (49). In each scene the pillow still symbolically retains the meaning of a murder weapon for the purgation of a paranoid jealousy, but the variations of its assignment among the characters and the very repetition of it now make it an instrument of bathos and comedy.

As the issue of the contextual gap relates to a clash that occurs in the minds of the members of the audience, it properly belongs to the element of dianoia, or meaning, and it has analogous developments on several levels. Generally, the gap exists simultaneously between the "mindsets" of the two authors and the "mindsets" of their respective audiences. The "mindset" for lack of a better term, of each author and his/her audience, is composed of ideas that define his/her universe, the society and its cultural values, the position of the genders in that society, its conventional views of sexuality, and a clear set of rhetorical conventions that organize the language spoken by the author and the audience in each era. When the two "mindsets" are pitted against each other, and particularly when the "traditionalist" values of Shakespeare's time are subverted and used as the play's setting, the result is a blurring of boundaries in each category Social codes of behavior, gender roles, and sexual practices all become fluid and lose their "natural" or "proper" stratification, thus giving birth to MacDonald's vision of a new society.

One could easily define MacDonald's comic use of the contextual gap as a mere exploitation of anachronism. There may be some truth in this, but the insertion of Constance into a Renaissance play-world is not just anachronism. MacDonald's acquaintance with the mores of Renaissance England and her use of them for social commentary about her own world creates a dialogue between the two eras, their societies and values, and ultimately among multiple texts. In Bakhtin's terms, she moves from monoglossia, or writing only in the "language" sign system of one age and its society, to polyglossia, or the simultaneous exploitation of multiple sign systems. As Bakhtin says:
 In the process of literary creation, languages interanimate each
 other and objectify precisely that side of one's own (and of the
 other's) language that pertains to its world view, its inner form,
 the axiologically accentuated system inherent in it. For the
 creating literary consciousness, existing in a field illuminated
 by another's language, it is not the phonetic system of its own
 language that stands out, nor is it the distinctive features of its
 own morphology nor its own abstract lexicon--what stands out is
 precisely that which makes language concrete and which makes its
 world view ultimately untranslatable, that is, precisely the style
 of the language as a totality. (34)

Hence, MacDonald's pitting of two worlds against each other is not merely an illustration of "how far we have come" in creating a liberal society based on science but is perhaps also an example of how little humanity has changed over four centuries. In this way she appears to banish her play decisively from the family of New Comedies symbolically concerned with fertility festivals and brings it closer to the socially-corrective dub of Old Comedies.

MacDonald seems to understand the importance of the Renaissance cosmology, which had a tendency to view all creation through complex systems of analogies and ranked everything along the hierarchy of the Great Chain of Being, in the literature of the age; she posits against it the equally absolute modern value system of psychology, which in many ways replaced religion as the subtext of twentieth-century literature, to create not so much a contrast as an equation sign between the two. Her play is framed and punctuated by the speeches of the chorus that introduces the value system according to which the audience is to understand the journey of the heroine, much as the chorus of Romeo and Juliet provides the cosmological matrix against which Shakespeare's narrative is to be decoded. (35) The equation is clear: what the immutable, fate-shaping stars were to the Elizabethans, the inscrutable psyche along with Jung and his "collective unconscious" are to us. The contrast between two characters, one of whom externalizes the cause of all events while the other internalizes it, may at first glance be funny, but ultimately the audience is forced to realize that very little has changed over time except for the direction of a character's blame-seeking meditations in pondering his/her fate.

The "meaning" of MacDonald's play, or the symbolic end of the heroine's journey, is closely related to Cad Jung's psychological theory. (36) Constance completes her quest and realizes on the surface level of the plot that she is the"Fool" and the author of the story. On a deeper philosophical level the audience understands MacDonald's political message: Constance is the creator of her own personality, of which Desdemona and Juliet are two constitutive parts. She is the new empowered woman, sexually free and unbound by social and gender laws, an intellectual who understands the world and herself.

Just as the worldviews were used as foils, the socially defining topoi present in the texts are pitted against each other to convey national, economic, and gender-based messages. Constance is introduced in MacDonald's play as an assistant professor at Queen's University in Canada, and her Canadian nationality along with being a member of the class of female consumers in a modern North American society are reinforced through a cluster of topoi properly belonging to a television-style nationalism based on simplistic stereotypes. (37)

Constance enters wearing a "coat, boots and a bright red woolen toque with a pom-pom at the end" (7), and later lands in Verona"minus her skirt, now wearing just her longjohns, boots and tweed jacket" (50), thus introducing a cluster of topoi (with the exception of the tweed jacket, a conventional scholar-topos) that are popular Canadian pride-symbols which simultaneously define the country as cold in the winter and serve as a witty retort to those who mock Canada as an "arctic" nation.

Similarly, she drinks "Coors Light" beer (10), smokes"Players Extra Light" cigarettes (14), and nibbles on "Velveeta" processed cheese (7), all of which define her as a modern North American consumer. But the fact that she is a vegetarian and indulges in products that are characterized by the adjective "light" (the first two of which have harmful effects on a human organism) at the same time identifies her as a female consumer and stands as an indictment of the superficiality of modern culture. For, according to the same system of stereotypical conventions MacDonald introduces as her frame of reference, "light" and "diet" products are perceived in modern popular culture to be aimed at female consumers concerned with their weight and health, and, particularly when coupled with vegetarianism, are never in alignment with the image of the North American meat-and-potatoes-eating "man's man." Stereotypes and generalizations are a notoriously dangerous ground in any scholarly enterprise, but MacDonald drags the unwilling critic into her minefield by violating convention in yet another way and introducing stereotypes as an aspect of the subtext of her play.

In the same vein, when Constance tells Desdemona about her abuse in the "sacred herd of Academe" the female leg-shaving topos of modern society is used simultaneously to convey a political point about gender inequality and to identify the seemingly inane act as a political symbol of radical feminist action, a kind of postmodern equivalent of the bra burning of the late 1960s:
 Not that I'm some kind of feminist.
 I shave my legs and I get nervous in a crowd--
 it's just that ... I was labelled as a crackpot,
 by the sacred herd of Academe;
 and after years spent as a laughingstock,
 I finally came to think that it was true.

Later on, Constance's longjohns are mistaken for hose, conventionally a Renaissance male topos that Shakespeare frequently uses in creating gender confusion in his own comedies; the anachronism creates numerous humorous complications in MacDonald's play, not the least of which is the gender confusion in the multiple courtships in Verona. Ultimately the longjohns, which have a dear parallel in Romeo's donning of a dress and Juliet's putting on of hose, prove to be MacDonald's most important modern topos as she uses them to carry the gender equality and homoerotic themes through the narrative to the creation of the new permissive society at the end of the play. Thus the "gaps" in gender roles and sexual practices are both contained in the skillful exploitation of the gap between conventionally male and female attire in the two time periods. As Marta Dvorak says,
 Couples form, mutate, invert and dissolve before our eyes.
 Characters are deviant, bent, do not "sail straight, plunder both
 shirt and skirt," curse their own sex. The notions of masculine and
 feminine become ambivalent, obscure, the borders blurred by the
 homosexual, the bisexual, the transvestite, the hermaphrodite, the
 androgyne. In turn, the boundaries between the proscribed and the
 permitted are likewise blurred. (38)

The last aspect of MacDonald's exploitation of gaps for humorous purposes, and possibly the closest reflection of Bakhtin's notion of polyglossia as an acquaintance with the styles of multiple epochs, is the rhetorical gap between the two eras. As in the other forms belonging to dianoia, the rhetorical gap relies on the audience's preconception of stylistic decorum. Shakespeare's plays, on which MacDonald lays the foundations of her farce, were written in blank verse, while modern drama generally is not regulated by any formalist principles and certainly does not follow a prescribed metric scheme. MacDonald exploits the stylistic gap by having Constance soliloquize in blank verse using absurdly indecorous images such as "leg-shaving" (37), "coffee-stains and dust-bunnies" (69), and then by using typically twentieth-century slang like "bullshit" in a new context as a feminist battle cry in the mouth of Desdemona (38). The stylistic chasm is widened even farther by the harsh metaphors and similes of the low rhetorical style proper to modern realistic fiction--for example, Constance's comparison of herself to "roadkill" (45). Again Dvorak explains:
 The primary source of humour thus resides in the difference of
 scale. MacDonald is engaging in an exercise in scaling down. Her
 strategy is that of bathos: to deflate rather than to inflate,
 through anti-climax and the breaking of decorum by prosaic, lowly,
 even scatological lexicon and abrupt shifts in diction. (39)

Another crucial way in which the rhetorical gap is exploited is in the use and treatment of Shakespearean verse. MacDonald's use of Shakespeare's lines relies on the audience's awareness of who the "original" speaker was, but her use of the source text takes several forms. As mentioned earlier, she frequently reassigns the lines to different characters while retaining the emblematic meaning of each speech, but she also defuses the pathos of the original speeches by having Constance interrupt the speakers with disyllabic interjections or comically indecorous modern exclamations. For example, the loaded meaning of a phrase such as "Goats and monkeys!" from Othello, which carries the meaning of Othello's supreme anguish at imagining the sexual coupling of Desdemona and Cassio, is now reassigned to a jealous Desdemona and contrasted with an absurd metanarrative comment by Constance:"Boy, Shakespeare really watered her down, eh?" (45). To call this method merely bathos is to lose much in the definition as we once again see MacDonald defying conventional classification and terminology.

In a similar fashion and fully reliant on the subtext and the audience's acquaintance with the original play, MacDonald reworks the famous balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet, only now it is Juliet who is in the garden wearing male hose while the object of her lines is Constance, another woman, clad in "male" longjohns and posing as "Constantine":
 Juliet: [Below] But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?
 It is the East, and Constantine the sun (40)
 Constance: Uh oh. (3.5)

Clearly, Constance's disyllabic reaction means more than it says. The context of the scene contains four centuries of collective interpretation and admiration of Shakespeare's play, which have elevated the lines to a cliche of male wooing. Moreover, I would probably not be too far from the truth in saying that there are very few other examples of two lines that are as widely recognized in the English-speaking world. Constance's guttural exclamation relies on our collective awareness of the importance and meaning of the scene, and in it is contained her own awareness of her role in the romantic situation. The audience laughs because it, like Constance, is aware of the new role-reassignment.

Moments later, we see a variation of this device as Juliet is about to describe how she came to be there:
 Juliet: With love's light wings did I o'erperch--
 Constance: I see. (3.5)

Romeo's lines, here assigned to Juliet, begin a speech containing the quintessential Renaissance conceit about the power of love, and Constance's absurdly indecorous and understated interruption relies precisely on the audience's awareness of the reputation of the speech. One line is more than enough to infuse the whole subtext into the new play. And once again, the term bathos does not adequately express the full complexity and wonder of MacDonald's humor.

While examples of the type described above are too numerous to mention here, we may understand their comic effect to be the result of the clash of rhetorical decorums. The examples of humor based on the gap between audience expectation and artistic revision clearly belong to the element of dianoia as they relate to mental categories the audience brings into the theater. But the humor aroused by an indecorous use of either the high or the low style in a new context is a little trickier to define.

The issue of decorum is notoriously difficult in the rhetorical theory, as it jointly belongs to several offices, (41) but it is most commonly understood to apply to the mental or creative phases of the conception of a work. However, it also relates to delivery, which may be taken as parallel to Aristotle's category of spectacle in drama. The examples of humor based on an indecorous use of figurative language belong to the office of elocutio, or style, and hence to a "mental" category analogous to dianoia. But since they also rely on the audience's notions of decorum defining what should be said in a certain dramatic moment and the manner in which it should be said, we now find ourselves in a kind of border zone between the mental kingdom of dianoia and the interpretative realm of spectacle. In other words, MacDonald's examples that jointly exploit the gap between elocutional and performative decorums seem to belong to Aristotle's dramatic category of diction and thus create a link between meaning and performance.

Having thus exhausted the analysis of MacDonald's methods of converting two tragedies into a comedy, there remains only the question of the purpose of the playwright's artifice. Or, to put it in a different way, what function does a work like Goodnight Desdemona play in an audience's conception of genre and, in particular, its notions of comedy and tragedy? Bakhtin comments:
 Parodic-travestying literature introduces the permanent corrective
 of laughter, of a critique on the one-sided seriousness of the lofty
 direct word, the corrective of reality that is always richer, more
 fundamental and most importantly too contradictory and heteroglot to
 be fitted into a high and straightforward genre. The high genres are
 monotonic, while the "fourth drama" and genres akin to it retain the
 ancient binary tone of the word.... The genre itself, the style, the
 language are all put in cheerfully irreverent quotation marks, and
 they are perceived against a backdrop of a contradictory reality
 that cannot be confined within their narrow frames. The direct
 and serious word was revealed, in all its limitations and
 insufficiency, only after it had become the laughing image of
 that word.... (42)

MacDonald's play certainly places any notions her audience has about genres, style, language, and the firm texture of reality in "irreverent quotation marks" and the "corrective" laughter it elicits identifies popular misconceptions and erases the boundaries of each category in order to create a new, boundless society free of absolutes. In playing this social function, Goodnight Desdemona is a miniature carnival in Bakhtin's sense of the word, but in its relationship to the tragedies that it subverts it resembles the "fourth drama," or classical Greek satyr play that used the mythical stock of tragedy for its own irreverent purposes. Indeed, the link between literary subversion and social correction through carnival is not at all tenuous, as Bakhtin identifies elements of the grotesque (notably in the satyr chorus) and a joint literary and socially corrective function in the satyr play itself. (43)

The satyr play, typically the fourth play to follow a tragic trilogy, was called thus after the satyr chorus that played an important part as the creator of funny situations and was written by the tragedian specifically to conclude the tragic cycle. (44) According to Dana F. Sutton, in every known instance they are "comically grotesque travesties of traditional myths," (45) and, as in Old and Middle comedies, mythological travesty in the satyr plays appears to have been used as a "vehicle of contemporary satire," (46) The presence of contemporary satire in Goodnight Desdemona may not be sufficient to characterize MacDonald's play as a satyr play and may merely bring it closer to the characteristics of Old Comedy. But the issue of "mythological travesty" needs clarification since it is the first step in the identification of the satyric nature of Goodnight Desdemona.

Shakespeare's narratives in our time are so popular and widely known that an author such as MacDonald can safely assume that her audience is familiar with her source plays and then proceed to construct a new narrative upon this familiar foundation. In this way, the subtext of her play is elevated to the level of a cultural foundation, a virtual archetype belonging to the Jungian collective unconscious. In this respect the relative universality of her source "myths" can he equated with the common mythological repertoire exploited by the ancient Greek playwrights and their audiences. Finally, if"myth" is taken in Frye's terms to mean a "plot" or "narrative" MacDonald's play certainly fits the bill--for she takes a popular story known by her audience and subjects it to parody.

Sutton identifies more important characteristics of the classical satyr play that illuminate MacDonald's work:
 The language of the satyr play is substantially the same as that of
 tragedy but for humorous purposes it is modified, or perhaps one
 should say contaminated by the admixture of non-tragic elements.
 The most prominent such modifications are various types of
 colloquial and comic diction involving un-tragic phrases,
 constructions and vocabulary items.... Also found are anachronisms
 and indecency. But since the humor of satyr plays is not as
 scatological and sexual as that of comedy, comedy's steady drumfire
 of obscenity is not imitated. Such intrusions as these can obviously
 be related to the general idea of comic relief: they are funny
 precisely because they are out of place when imbedded in a general
 matrix of tragic diction. (47)

I have already discussed the "contamination" of tragic rhetorical decorum, and the use of anachronism and diction. While blatant obscenity is not present in Goodnight Desdemona, sexually suggestive allusions and innuendo certainly play an important part in the play, particularly in destroying the illusion of boundaries between the genders and their sexual practices.

One may well object that MacDonald's play cannot he called a satyr play because it lacks a satyr chorus. Of course, Goodnight Desdemona is not a satyr play in the classical sense. Nor would it have been possible for MacDonald to have created one. Rather, it should be abundantly clear by now that she is a twentieth-century playwright with contemporary concerns. Furthermore, her constant ridicule of "rules" and decorum in this play indicates that she probably would not have obeyed the rules of the genre even if she had attempted to write a formal satyr play. We can merely suggest that the play resembles the satyr plays in its overall effect and in its relationship to its parent "myths." Any formal resemblance it may have to the classic satyr play will certainly not refute this claim; on the contrary, it may help illustrate another dimension of MacDonald's mastery in converting one genre into another. Sutton explains:
 In certain ways the satyr play is subversive to tragedy insofar as
 an essential aspect of satyric humor consists in travestying tragedy
 and inviting the audience to laugh at what tragedy takes seriously.
 And in some respects, notably toleration of the satyrs' foibles, and
 greater complaisance shown towards trickery and deceit, the satyr
 play appears to project a more relaxed morality than tragedy.
 Nevertheless, at a deeper level the satyr play is not really
 antagonistic to tragedy, insofar as it does not seek to subvert
 tragedy's characteristic view of a world order. In its own humble
 way it affirms it. (48)

In its relationship with the source tragedies, MacDonald's play seems to have little in common with a classical satyr play since her political message gives the audience nothing to laugh about or "affirm" as immutable in her world when she proposes a freer society than the one in which she lives. But this is deceptive. Ultimately, MacDonald merely conceives a better world much as the satyr play's pastoral, carnivalesque, chaotic world of reversals subsumes a quintessentially tragic hero accustomed to immutable laws and derives hilarious pleasure from the ludicrous juxtaposition of opposites. Sutton asserts:
 Satyric incongruity is profoundly subversive. The world of tragedy,
 like any self-contained aesthetic world, is plausible because it is
 self-consistent. The satyr play renders the same world implausible
 by introducing inconsistency. In a fairly general way, it has the
 effect of retroactively disarming tragedy. To a certain extent, at
 least, the world of tragedy, which at the time seemed august and
 intimidating, is now shown in the satyric mirror as silly. (49)

Indeed, when looked at it this way, the satyr play's "affirmation" of a tragic vision is nothing less than satire. The satyr play needs the rigidity and oppression of the tragic universe for its own life, just as a fundamentally revolutionary feminist and lesbian play "needs" the patriarchal, oppressive world of set gender roles for its inspiration. Without the tragic universe and its rigid power structures, the romantic vision of the satyr play and MacDonald's Goodnight Desdemona would not exist. Sutton pithily identifies the social purpose of satyr drama: "By the technique of comic incongruity, by presenting as humorously incongruous and inappropriate what tragedy has just represented as serious and consequential, the satyr play insinuates that the emperor has no clothes." (50) Indeed, the patriarchal world is left naked and exposed to the derisive laughter of an audience liberated by MacDonald's irreverent humor.

It should be fairly obvious by now who the agent of the advent of the new society is; or to put it quite differently, who MacDonald's satyr is: Constance Ledbelly. The classical satyr chorus as the source of amusement was traditionally introduced by the tragedian into "a mythological situation where, properly speaking, they had no business." (51) What better way to define the injection of Constance into the dark universe of Othello's Cyprus, or Juliet's Verona consumed by civil strife? As Sutton says, "the more irrational their presence, the funnier it seems. So too the fun is all the greater when the dramatized subject has been given literary treatment." (52) Yet again, MacDonald's play fits the bill perfectly.

But what is the satyr really like? Could Constance even metaphorically be compared to a forest-dwelling half-man half-goat with an insatiable sexual appetite and an enormous phallus? When viewed through the Jungian prism, the matrix MacDonald supplies for looking at her play-world, we discover that Constance is not a satyr from the first moment of her entry in the narrative, but that her quest to find herself and construct the "tripartite woman" is simultaneously a journey during which she will become the equivalent of a classical satyr. When we know MacDonald's rule-breaking methods and the character of her "new" world, it seems only fitting that the essentially male archetypal figure of fertility now undergoes a gender metamorphosis but retains an erotic interest in women. Sutton reminds us that the essentially bestial nature of the satyr and his slavery to his appetites make him no more than a "caricature of a human being" who is capable of "no more than a playful but essentially meaningless parody of human action" which debases "consequential" tragedy into "absurdity devoid of meaning or menace." (53) However, it should be remembered that the satyr is not only charged with this comic energy but is also paradoxically in communication with superhuman forces that provide him with an entirely different set of powers:
 He has an uncanny ability to see past the facade of reality and
 apprehend Nature's inner workings. He knows all manner of arcane
 lore; he can raise the dead and produce other supernatural effects.
 Thus, like Man, the satyr has a higher and a lower self. But unlike
 all but the healthiest of men, the satyr lives in harmony with
 nature and his higher and lower selves are not in conflict. The
 satyr can be and ... has been pressed into service as a symbol of
 Man in his ideal state, living according to Nature, uncorrupted by
 civilization and its discontents, not neurotic.... The tragic hero
 gets in trouble because of his hamartia, his unwisdom, which often
 consists of some form of imbalance. Through imbalance he often
 slides off into morbidity. By contrast, the satyr exists
 harmoniously with himself, with Nature, with Dionysus. He is the
 supreme embodiment of health. Although he is less than human, he
 embodies a kind of wisdom: he represents what man can and should
 be. (54)

Constance is indeed a satyr injected in the "real" and consequential worlds of Shakespeare's tragedies, and through her playful "meddling" the character of the Shakespearean universe is changed from tragic to comic. In the sense that she is a Shakespearean scholar, she is in communion with "superhuman forces" as far as the "reality" of the fictional characters is concerned: she knows the characters' fates and when to intervene to change them, and she knows their personalities. Indeed, to them she is a demigod, much like a satyr. Like a satyr, she never attains full divinity due to her comic predisposition to blunder. Unlike a satyr, Constance must learn to live in accord with Nature and herself, to reject the corruption of civilization, and to stop being neurotic. By the end of the play, this becomes possible when she undergoes an almost religious epiphany in understanding the riddle that has plagued her throughout the play. Furthermore, it becomes clear to her that Desdemona and Juliet, respectively in the archetypal roles of the woman of action and the sensual woman, along with her own role of the intellectual woman form the tripartite soul of the ideal woman. The teleological ending for Constance is not the legitimization of a love match with a male hero, or even with another woman, but a mystical marriage to herself. With the three poles of her personality in balance, the ideal woman attains the health and wisdom to live a fulfilling life.

As the curtain fails, the "interesting" life of the comic heroine begins, and the audience goes away hoping that Constance will be able to live happily ever after in the new world Ann-Marie MacDonald constructed for her, even though the heroine did not walk off into the teleological sunset, arm in arm with a handsome lad. But then, this is not New Comedy. Satyrs live happily in the perpetual spring of the woods, wherever they may be located and perhaps most easily in the tangled forest of our own minds.

University of Toronto


(1) Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957), 37.

(2) Ibid., 213.

(3) Prye's term to identify an archetypal plot-formula, as developed in the Anatomy. There are four types of mythoi: comedy, romance, tragedy, and irony, each corresponding to a season, respectively: spring, summer, autumn, and winter.

(4) Northrop Frye, "Romance as Masque," in Spiritus Mundi: Essays on Literature, Myth, and Society, ed. Northrop Frye (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1976), 150.

(5) Ibid., 151.

(6) Ibid., 148.

(7) In the Anatomy of Criticism, Frye identifies the hero to be typically male as the conventional plot in New Comedy centers on the "boy gets girl" formula.

(8) Ibid., 170.

(9) Juliet Dusinberre, "Tragedy and Laughing in the Wrong Place" in Images of Shakespeare: Proceedings of the Third Congress of the International Shakespeare Association, 1986, ed. Werner Habicht, D. J. Palmer, and Roger Pringle (Toronto: Associated University Presses, 1988), 214.

(10) Ibid., 217.

(11) Stephen Orgel, "Shakespeare and Kinds of Drama," Critical Inquiry 6 (1979): 120.

(12) Ibid., 122.

(13) Ibid., 123.

(14) Susan Snyder, "Romeo and Juliet: Comedy into Tragedy," Essays in Criticism 20 (1970): 392.

(15) It has been noted that the characters of the Nurse and Friar Lawrence typically belong to comedy with their bumbling and procrastination, and do not change during the course of the play. But while their actions are decorous with the comical spirit of the first two acts, their delays and clumsiness become distressing in the tragic conclusion of the play. For discussions of these issues see Snyder, "Romeo and Juliet: Comedy into Tragedy," 391-402, and Marjorie Garber, "Romeo and Juliet: Patterns and Paradigms," in The Shakespeare Plays: A Study Guide (La Jolla: University of California, San Diego, 1979), 50-63.

(16) For a detailed discussion of this idea, see E. K. Chambers, Shakespeare: A Survey (London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1925).

(17) Frye, "Romance as Masque," 149.

(18) Snyder, "Romeo and Juliet: Comedy into Tragedy," 76.

(19) All citations of Shakespeare's plays refer to The Complete Works, ed. Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986).

(20) W. H. Auden, "The Joker in the Pack," in The Dyer's Hand and Other Essays (New York: Random House, 1962), 246-72.

(21) Barbara Heliodora C. de Mendonca, "A Comic Structure," Shakespeare Survey 21 (1968): 32.

(22) Frances Teague, "Othello and New Comedy," Comparative Drama 20 (1986): 59.

(23) For detailed discussions of Iago's relationship to the Vice and Devil types, see Bernard Spivak, Shakespeare and the Allegory of Evil (New York: Columbia University Press, 1958), and Leah Scraggs, "Iago-Vice or Devil?" Shakespeare Survey 21 (1968): 53-65.

(24) De Mendonca, "A Comic Structure" 35.

(25) Teague, "Othello and New Comedy," 59.

(26) All citations to the play under consideration are to Ann-Marie MacDonald, Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) (Toronto: Vintage Canada, 1990).

(27) See Kenneth Burke, A Rhetoric of Motives (New York; Prentice Hall, 1950).

(28) Mark Fortier, "Shakespeare with a Difference: Genderbending and Genrebending in Goodnight Desdemona," Canadian Theatre Review 59 (1989): 49.

(29) See Richard Janko's translation, edition, and "reconstruction" of the works in Aristotle: Poetics I with the Tractatus Coislinianus, A Hypothetical Reconstruction of Poetics II (Indianapolis: Hacker Publishing, 1987), 8.

(30) Kenneth Burke's term for the object of a courtship.

(31) Marta Dvorak, "Goodnight Shakespeare (Good Morning Ann-Marie MacDonald)," Canadian Theatre Review 79 (1994): 133.

(32) Fortier, "Shakespeare with a Difference," 50.

(33) Ibid.

(34) Mikhail M. Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays, trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist, ed. Michael Holquist (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981), 62.

(35) Especially in the prologue to act 1.

(36) Indeed, the "Gustav" manuscript which consumes her and forms the theoretical backdrop for her internal journey appears to be a reference to Carl Jung's middle name.

(37) The best recent example of this brand of "commercial nationalism" is the series of "I am Canadian" television commercials for Molson Canadian beer in which simplistic stereotypes (used as jeers by non-Canadians) are exploited as points of national pride.

(38) Dvorak, "Goodnight Shakespeare; 132.

(39) Ibid., 130.

(40) The 1990 edition of the play italicizes MacDonald's appropriation of Shakespeare's text; thus the reader of the text cannot fully participate in the line-identification game like the theater audience.

(41) In classical rhetoric, decorum applies to inventio, dispositio, and elocutio as the three parts of the composition of an oration, but it also applies to pronuntiatio, or delivery. The issue is further complicated by the immense influence of Cicero on the development of English rhetoric during the Renaissance, because for Cicero decorum had an ethical dimension. For an important discussion of Ciceronian decorum see James S. Baumlin, "Ciceronian Decorum and the Temporalities of Renaissance Rhetoric," in Rhetoric and Kairos: Essays in History, Theory and Praxis, ed. Philip Sipiora and James S. Baumlin (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002), 138-64.

(42) Bakhtin, Dialogic Imagination, 55-56.

(43) Bakhtin, Dialogic Imagination, 53-60; Mikhail M. Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World, trans. Helene Iswolsky (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984), 31.

(44) Dana F. Sutton, The Greek Satyr Play (Meisenheim am Glan: Verlag Anton Hain, 1980), 134.

(45) Ibid.

(46) Ibid., 137.

(47) Ibid., 142.

(48) Ibid. 159.

(49) Ibid., 168.

(50) Ibid., 165-66.

(51) Ibid., 137.

(52) Ibid., 161.

(53) Ibid., 178.

(54) Ibid. 178-79.
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Author:Djordjevic, Igor
Publication:Comparative Drama
Date:Mar 22, 2003
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