In both Othello and in Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare uses the device of fateful mistakes to develop the tragic action. Can similar kinds of mistakes be said to happen in Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) but to comic ends instead? Compare MacDonald’s use of this device with one of the “mistakes” in Othello.
Shakespeare cleverly mixes established conventions of both comedy and tragedy, demonstrating his own workings of the tragic form. The playwright uses theatrical conventions his audience would recognize, particularly from Roman comedy. For example, Othello plays the part of a the jealous husband who fears his wife’s infidelity. In Romeo and Juliet, chance occurrences or twists of fate have dramatic consequences, which is more characteristic of comedy. The first two acts of the play can be viewed as a comedy, before Mercutio is killed at the beginning of act 3. Had the tragic events thereafter not occurred, eventually leading to the “star-crossed lovers” meeting their end, the play would have read quite differently. By demonstrating elements of both genres, Shakespeare’s tragedies can demonstrate subtle elements of comedy while maintaining an overall tragic tone.
Anne Marie MacDonald’s Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) is a parody of both Othello and Romeo and Juliet . In act 1,...
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