Thursday, September 24, 2009

Othello as a Legal Thriller

Move over John Grisham. William Shakespeare's Othello is the real king of the legal thriller genre -- or so Richard McAdams argued in his summer WIP talk.


PG said...

In contrast the first Act, where Othello is vindicated by virtue of procedural rights, he flatly refuses to grant Desdemona any, including a rejection of her plea to call Cassio as a witness. The tragedy of Desdemona's death, after all, could have been averted the same way that Othello was freed -- through exculpatory witness testimony. Yet Othello, by choosing the path of private vengeance rather than public law, sowed his own bitter harvest, wrongfully killing his wife and love.

I just saw Othello (the one with Philip Seymour Hoffman as Iago), and I could have sworn that Othello believes Cassio to be dead at this point in the play. Here's the lines:

DESDEMONA: He found it then;
I never gave it him: send for him hither;
Let him confess a truth.

OTHELLO: He hath confess'd.

DESDEMONA: What, my lord?

OTHELLO: That he hath used thee.

DESDEMONA: How? unlawfully?


DESDEMONA: He will not say so.

OTHELLO: No, his mouth is stopp'd;
Honest Iago hath ta'en order for't.

DESDEMONA: O! my fear interprets: what, is he dead?

OTHELLO: Had all his hairs been lives, my great revenge
Had stomach for them all.

DESDEMONA: Alas! he is betray'd and I undone.

David Schraub said...

I have never read or seen Othello. Fortunately, if there is one thing law school teaches, it's how to BS knowledge effectively.

PG said...

:-) So long as you were accurately summarizing the author's apparent error, no blame to you.