Academic Questions

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 126–129 | Cite as

Be Reasonable

  • Carol Iannone

Back in the late 1980s, professor of English Richard Levin caused an uproar when he published a long article objecting to feminist literary criticism of Shakespeare, which, at that time at least, interpreted the plays of the Bard as portrayals of sexual conflict, female oppression, and male domination.1 Writing in the New York Times, journalist Richard Bernstein summarized Levin’s “deepest disagreement with the feminists” as a lack of feeling for the nature of tragedy, in which the hero recognizes the fatal flaw in himself that leads to his undoing. This “recognition,” resulting in “catharsis,” in Aristotle’s terms, is negated by feminist critics, for whom the source of the evil is masculinity itself.2

One question Levin asks in his article stands out in my memory: If the jealous rage that drives Othello to murder Desdemona is emblematic of masculinity and the male treatment of women in our culture, as the feminist critics would have it, why are the other men in the play, including its...

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.New YorkUSA

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