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18. Act 4, Scene 3: Desdemona and Emilia
About this Lecture
In this module, we read through Act 4, Scene 3, as Desdemona prepares for bed. In particular, we think about: (i) Desdemona’s story about her mother’s maid, Barbary, and the song she used to sing; and (ii) Emilia’s fantastic, feminist speech that closes the scene (“But I do think it is their husbands’ faults | If wives do fall”, 85-102).
In this twenty-one part course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores Shakespeare’s Othello. We begin with a broad introduction to the historical, political and intellectual context of early 17th-century England, before going through the play scene-by-scene, providing close reading and detailed analysis, with commentary on character, plot, themes and motifs, language, symbolism, and more.
Note: We used the Arden edition of the play (Third Series, Revised Edition, ed. E. A. J. Honigmann). Students using a different version of the play may encounter slight differences in both the text and line numbers.
John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.
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Cite this Lecture
McRae, J. (2019, January 27). Shakespeare: Othello - Act 4, Scene 3: Desdemona and Emilia [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/shakespeare-othello-john-mcrae/act-4-scene-3-desdemona-and-emilia
McRae, J. "Shakespeare: Othello – Act 4, Scene 3: Desdemona and Emilia." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 27 Jan 2019, https://massolit.io/courses/shakespeare-othello-john-mcrae/act-4-scene-3-desdemona-and-emilia