After Iago first puts the idea of the affair into Othello’s head, the general complains to Iago: “What sense had I of her stolen hours of lust? / I saw’t not, thought it not, it harmed me not, / I slept the next night well, fed well, was free and merry; / I found not Cassio’s kisses on her lips.” Othello, understandably, would rather know for certain his wife was unfaithful than be forced to wonder at her fidelity. Instead of certainty, though, his imagination torments him further. He says that when he kisses Desdemona he finds Cassio’s kisses on her lips. The meaning of this statement is not quite clear. Does he mean that when Desdemona speaks, he imagines Cassio kissing her? Is he saying that he feels himself kissing Cassio when he kisses his young wife? What, after all, does Othello know about Cassio’s kisses?
I do not mean to be flippant here, but rather to point out that in a society such as the Elizabethans’, where young men are interchangeable with young women, Michael Cassio is not only a desiring sexual subject, but a desired sexual object.
25 November 2007
More Othello fun...
I am having a lot of fun writing this paper. This is all textually supported, but I am saying some pretty ridiculous things: