Look! A Shakespeare Smiley!

I was flipped through the First Folio today (ya know, like ya do) because I’d become intrigued over the spelling of people’s names.  I noticed for the first time that the web navigator I work with had a page labelled “Names of the Actors” deep near the end, next to Antony and Cleopatra, and I got excited.  Ooo!  Is that a list of which actors played which roles?

Nope, alas, it is just what we now see referred to as the “Dramatis Personae”, the list of characters in the play.  In this case it’s actually at the end of the previous play, Othello. Not really “names of actors”, I feel ripped off.

But then I noticed this:

What the heck is that sequence of symbols under the heading? Looks like two smilies (or emoticons if you kids are calling it that these days) facing opposite directions. But what of the stars in the middle? It’s not even three in a row, two of them are super scripted. Looks a little bit like a skull face.

I’m going to call it Othello and Desdemona, kept apart by the demonic Iago.

Who’s got a better interpretation? Does this kind of sequence appear elsewhere? I checked a few pages and did not see it.

3 thoughts on “Look! A Shakespeare Smiley!

  1. Are you sure its not Elizabethan comics page swearing?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Didn't Desdemona have a barrow in the market place?

    Wherever you go Iago?

  3. Harriet Elvest-Pappiandou says:

    Here are two examples, both from offerings of Macbeth, of the enormous power of the cinema in terms of articulating Shakespeare.

    1) In Casson’s 1978 film featuring the Royal Shakespeare Company, the early scenes show one of the three witches broken out in an intense feverish sweat, barely able to walk or speak. She is quite noticeably in this condition; the other two are not. Much later on – most graphically during the “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” sequence – McKellen is shown in the same state of heated physical fervor. The visual implication is unmistakable: the same possessing spirit that gripped her body is now gripping his. Whether or not we feel this to be a legitimate interpretation of Shakespeare’s writing is beside the point, which is that it would be extremely unlikely for this impression to be gotten solely from reading.

    2) In Jack Gold’s film for the BBC series the sky, in the scene in which Duncan, Banquo and others arrive at Inverness, is lit a brilliant and intense orange behind them. The gate of the castle stands opened, and the bars of it, sharpened at the ends like swords or spikes, are filmed in the foreground in such a way that they appear to be coming down right on the heads of Banquo and Duncan. This visual evocation of danger and betrayal anthropomorphizes the castle in a way I don’t reading alone ever could.


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