Shakespeare and creative education

The Wing to Heaven

This essay was first published in the Spring 2016 edition of Use of English.

I can remember reading Othello for the first time when I was studying A-level, and feeling slightly disappointed and cheated when I read the notes about Shakespeare’s sources for the play. What particularly offended me was how the main female character in the source version of the story, Cinthio’s Hecatommithi, was called Disdemona. Not only had Shakespeare not bothered to come up with a plot of his own, but he had made only the most token attempt to disguise the fact by changing Disdemona to Desdemona.  And Cinthio’s novella seemed, from the sections in the Arden notes at least, to be the worst kind of melodrama, full of stock heroes and villains. What would the modern equivalent of this be? Ian McEwan writing the story of Dirdre Barley, resident of Coronel Street, and her unjust imprisonment…

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