Hussah's Blog 501

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Hussah's Blog 501

Erikson and the Harlem Duet

October 22nd, 2018 · No Comments · Uncategorized

For this week’s blog post, I will be looking at Erikson’s views on myths from  Shakespeare’s Othello and how they apply with the Harlem Duet play by Djanet Sears. On page 112 of Erikson’s article, he explains that Sears wrote that all of the Othello characters she has created leave their expected black wife for a white woman, which explains the reference he later mentions on page 114, that because of how Othello was portrayed, and how the Duke treats him for his color, Othello tries to convince himself that color does not matter, however throughout the rest of the article, Erison makes arguments that Othello marrying the white Desdemona is him betraying the African wife that he is supposed to marry. In Sears’ play, Othello marries the black wife Billie but leaves her for Mona, a white woman.

I think what most supports this myth that Othello married a white woman so he can change his past, not face it and forget it, so not experience and believe his own reality and actually believe that he can live like a white man is presented in Act 2, scene 3 of the play. The speech that is made by the character HER. The scene takes place in Harlem 1862, with the setting of a late summer night and the characters are that “HER holds HIM in her arms like Mary holds Jesus… there is a rope around his neck and he does not move”. The introduction of the setting itself displays that because the names of the characters are fully capitalized, that gives them more importance and value. Moreover, HER is compared to Mary which is a respected holy figure but what is interesting is that HIM is compared to Jesus the child of Mary. He is still respected but that is a mother-son relationship therefor it shows that if we were to compare Othello and Mona, because she is White, she is on Mary’s level of respect, and Othello being with a White woman gives him the level of respect that Jesus has, but is still beneath her since he is compared to Mary’s son.

Going to the speech of  ‘HER’, it starts with her Caressing him and him is spelled in lower case letters, since she is telling him a story, which is like a bedtime fable read to a child, thus further proving the mother-son dynamic. She explains that a spell was created to help a man become white and enter the whiteness. Othello entered the whiteness through his lover Mona. Him starting a relationsihp with her as his lover shows that through this sexual desire which was previously mentioned in Paula Vogels Desdemona, whom wanted to experience the world through men, here Othello wants to experience whiteness through a white women.

Him experiencing this whiteness made him realize that color does matter but he wants to erase his color. The relationship with the lover made him forget his race’s past and his true color which is the reason why I think that this is why white actors play blackface when playing the character Othello, because being in the relationship with the white Desdemona made him forget his true self, and turn into who he desired to be.  (536).


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