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Catalog of the Shakespeare Art Collection  --  Multi-Color Graphics on Shakespearean Themes

"OTHELLO"
Description of Wood-cut 4 colors 10" x 14"
by Hannah Tompkins

 

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The central figure of Othello is shown as a man divided in self conflict, caught between the dual forces of Good-Evil: Heaven-Hell: and Truth-Hate, as personified by Desdemona and Iago, respectively.

Radiating from the center of Othello's head is the fateful web that fingers out to intersect the other characters. A secondary web issues from Iago.

The hand that strangles Desdemona, although identified with Othello, comes out of the blackness bearing Iago's colors. Iago's mask is self-evident, but his eyes are blank, their green color has been transferred to Othello's.

It is this same green that contaminates Desdemona's throat under the lethal hand. The rest of her face is blue, surrounded by a halo.

The subtle touch of blue in Iago's garment alludes to his success in counterfeiting his wicked intentions with a show of 'goodness'. His hair and beard are white giving him the visage

The explosive infusion of all the colors in the web confirm and emphasize Othello's confusion and violent struggle with all these elements.

Metaphorically, the trio may be interpreted as humankind (Othello) as the object in a tense competition between Hate (Iago) and Truth (Desdemona). When Humankind is deceived by Hate, it destroys the Truth.

Despite the fatality Othello suffered through his murder of the innocent Desdemona, he nevertheless declares his eternal love for her, described in the title quote:
" I kissed thee ere I killed thee..."
This declaration is preserved in that one small patch of blue in the right side of Othello's otherwise infected mind.
In relation to the print border, it falls in the direct center of the print.

Truth is, after all, the center of all things.


Copyright © 1990 Hannah Tompkins. All rights reserved.

 

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