Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)

by Ann-Marie Macdonald

Start Free Trial

What is the significance of Constance's red tongue in Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Upon cursory inspection, Constance Ledbelly is anything but a woman prepared to stand up for herself. She is timid, passive, and hardly seems to be in control of her own destiny. Even Professor Night, who happens to be her longtime unrequited crush, ridicules her dissertation topic, which aims to prove that Romeo and Juliet and Othello were originally comedies.

This picture presents a woman who is anything but impetuous, but her red tongue hints at the true nature living underneath her shy exterior. Constance is an incredibly passionate woman with a heart full of love. She is brimming with new feelings and ideas that are discovered and explored as she makes her Shakespearean journey. Red is traditionally associated with these impulsive and adventurous emotions.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Red is color traditionally associated with these symbolic meanings:  passion, aggression, desire, love.  The association of these traits with Constance are very important.  Although she begins the plays as a passive woman, unlucky in love, her true nature proves to be self-assured and passionate woman who goes after what she wants.  Her red tongue, along with her red cap, are hints to her inner nature.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Discuss the function and significance of Constance's red tongue

Constance's red tongue is indicative of her true nature. At first, Constance comes across as quite a passive, non-assertive character; far from shaping her life, she is shaped by it. She allows herself to be browbeaten and manipulated by Professor Night, the unrequited object of her affections. Yet beneath her unassuming exterior beats the heart of a passionate woman, filled with love and desire, emotions she explores throughout her Shakespearean adventures.

Red is traditionally associated with these emotions, and as Constance's true nature is revealed, her red tongue comes to symbolize her growing self-awareness of previously hidden feelings. Red is also the symbol of blood, and its significance lies in the fact that it draws attention to the fine line in Shakespeare's plays—most notably Romeo and Juliet and Othello—between love and violence.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on