Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) Questions and Answers
by Ann-Marie Macdonald

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Shakespeare uses fateful mistakes to develop the tragic action. Can similar kinds of mistakes be said to happen in MacDonald's work but to comic ends instead?

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I think that the statement is accurate in suggesting the mistakes that cause tragedy in Shakespeare helps to bring about a sense of the comic in Macdonald.  In Shakespearean drama, the mistakes between people lead to tragic sensibilities because the characters are constructed in a singular manner.  The handkerchief inOthellospells doom for so many, while Juliet seems to be inextricably moving towards death.  One of Macdonald's thematic purposes is to explore the modern sensibility to avert absolutism.  The absolutist tragic condition in Shakespearean drama leads to death and dismay.  Constance understands that there can be mistakes and sadness, but the complexity of the modern setting does not automatically lead to death and absolute sadness.  Constance's explanation and dialogue to both Juliet and Desdemona help to reveal this.  Through Constance, Macdonald seems to be suggesting that the need to discuss and articulate through mistakes and misunderstandings is an element of the modern condition that helps to avoid the perils of absolutist tragedy.  In contrast to the "dumb show" to open the drama, mistakes are shown in Macdonald's narrative to necessitate discussion and articulation, so that a stronger and more substantive understanding emerges.  This moves one away from absolutist tragedy and towards an end of modern being.  In this, one can see how fateful mistakes do not necessarily have to be fateful inclinations of death, but rather opportunities for discussion and articulation to emerge in which individuals better understand one another and their own senses of self.

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