abstract: Seventeenth-century writers were fascinated by the emotional turmoil that jealousy provoked, and their jealous characters feel darker and more psychologically realistic than earlier representations. What needs more scrutiny is the relationship between violent jealousy, gender, and class in the early modern period. We have, for example, largely overlooked the fact that Shakespeare’s most jealous husbands are married to the only children of important men. This essay argues that Desdemona’s social location—that is to say, her position as the female heir of a senator—provides a powerful catalyst for the kind of intense jealousy her husband develops. As the play dramatizes the tragic consequences of sexual jealousy, it also registers anxieties about the spectacular potential of the noble body—anxieties that would become increasingly urgent in the first half of the seventeenth century.
Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Jan 7, 2015