A Fury in the Words: Love and Embarrassment in Shakespeare's Venice by Harry BergerA Fury in the Words: Love and Embarrassment in Shakespeare's Venice by Harry Berger

A Fury in the Words: Love and Embarrassment in Shakespeare's Venice

byHarry Berger

Paperback | November 14, 2012

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Shakespeare's two Venetian plays are dominated by the discourse of embarrassment. The Merchant of Venice is a comedy of embarrassment, and Othello is a tragedy of embarrassment. This nomenclature is admittedly anachronistic, because the term "embarrassment" didn't enter the language until thelate seventeenth century.To embarrass is to make someone feel awkward or uncomfortable, humiliated or ashamed. Such feelings may respond to specific acts of criticism, blame, or accusation. "To embarrass" is literally to "embar": to put up a barrier or deny access. The bar of embarrassment may be raised by unpleasantexperiences. It may also be raised when people are denied access to things, persons, and states of being they desire or to which they feel entitled.The Venetian plays represent embarrassment not merely as a condition but as a weapon and as the wound the weapon inflicts. Characters in The Merchant of Venice and Othello devote their energies to embarrassing one another. But even when the weapon is sheathed, it makes its presence felt, as whenDesdemona means to praise Othello and express her love for him: "I saw Othello's visage in his mind" (1.3.253). This suggests, among other things, that she didn't see it in his face.
Harry Berger, Jr., is Professor Emeritus of Literature and Art History at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His most recent books include Fictions of the Pose: Rembrandt Against the Italian Renaissance; Situated Utterances: Texts, Bodies, and Cultural Representations; Manhood, Marriage, and Mischief: Rembrandt's "Night Watch" a...
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Title:A Fury in the Words: Love and Embarrassment in Shakespeare's VeniceFormat:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.03 inPublished:November 14, 2012Publisher:Fordham University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0823241955

ISBN - 13:9780823241958

Reviews

Editorial Reviews

"The great benefit of Berger's juxtaposition of 'Merchant' and 'Othello' is to highlight the contrast between Portia-Bassanio and Othello-Desdemona relationships."