‘A good soft pillow for that good white head’: 'Othello' as Comedy

Peter J. Smith


Othello is unlike the other tragedies. Not only is it more tightly focussed on the private rather than affairs of State, but throughout it maintains the employment of standard comic devices such as its domestic setting, theme, characterisation as well as its widespread bawdy, quibbling, threats of cuckoldry, gossip and scandal. Finally, in its murder scene, it stifles its tragic potentiality with nothing more belligerent than a pillow. This essay demonstrates some of the reasons why, as early as 1693, Thomas Rymer could refer to it as a ‘Bloody Farce’.

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