Bulletin of Advanced English Studies

Volume 8 - Issue 1 (3) | PP: 32 - 40 Language : English
DOI : https://doi.org/10.31559/BAES2023.8.1.3

“she can turn and turn,… and turn again” (4.1.255-6): The Culpability for Desdemona’s Soft-Porn Performance

Ibrahim Alhiyari
Received Date Revised Date Accepted Date Publication Date
3/4/2023 17/4/2023 9/5/2023 2/6/2023
In the cannon of Shakespeare's criticism, Othello's Desdemona is often depicted as an icon of modesty, wifeliness, and Christian virtue; however, many psychoanalytic critics tout a more venal and meretricious interpretation of her character. The subtle process of gradually goading teen Desdemona into the trap of a prostituted, soft-porn practitioner by the male agency is orchestrated through extolling her to an exquisitely beautiful, feminine icon while dropping seemingly innocuous innuendoes of the need to offer such beauty and charm, whether platonically or carnally, to men. Her culpable passivity and disinclination to unequivocally reject attempts to prostitute her render her in collusion to her moral descent. Taking her amorous history, erotic propensity, and resolute decision-making, Desdemona strikes us as a sexual experimenter who marries Othello for her own gratification, having turned away many European princes. Shakespeare projects an image of her as an exquisitely beautiful celebrity who takes pride in flaunting her charms, seducing men, and leaving a trail of broken hearts. In the psychologically intense slap scene, without verbally agreeing to the behests of her spouse-turned-pimp, she nonetheless undertakes his every utterable and non-utterable whim. Desdemona's sudden, inexplicable reticence to spurn Othello's prompting in this scene while surrounded by her Venetian compatriots who are oxymoronically transformed to function as depraved, ferocious voyeurs reinforce her image as purposely feeble and unerringly eroticized, rendering her a complicit performer rather than a helpless victim. Whether willing or compelled, Desdemona's conflicting, character-trope served Shakespeare's performative histrionics, business acumen, and rendered Othello a popular, considerably successful classic.

How To Cite This Article
Alhiyari , I. (2023). “she can turn and turn,… and turn again” (4.1.255-6): The Culpability for Desdemona’s Soft-Porn Performance . Bulletin of Advanced English Studies, 8 (1), 32-40, 10.31559/BAES2023.8.1.3

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