Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Fatal FictionsCrime and Investigation in Law and Literature$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Alison L. LaCroix, Richard H. McAdams, and Martha C. Nussbaum

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190610784

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190610784.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 14 December 2019

Cold-Blooded and High-Minded Murder

Cold-Blooded and High-Minded Murder

The “Case” of Othello

Chapter:
(p.111) 6 Cold-Blooded and High-Minded Murder
Source:
Fatal Fictions
Author(s):

Richard Strier

Richard H. McAdams

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190610784.003.0006

Chapter 6 explores the period English law that bears on the crime that Othello commits when he kills Desdemona, a matter made complex by his honor motivation and his strange state of mind. Pointing in one direction, the justice motivation seems to invoke the law that permitted husbands to slay their adulterous wives and lovers. The audience is made to wonder how the killing would likely appear to a subsequent jury as hot-blooded and therefore manslaughter rather than murder under the period law. Pointing in the other direction, the English courts at the time Shakespeare wrote Othello struggled to contain the juries’ desire to allow honor killings, and the audience would know that, despite subsequent appearances, Othello’s actions were eerily calm at the beginning of the final scene, not obviously hot-blooded manslaughter but murder. Strier and McAdams argue that, beneath the surface, Othello is one of Shakespeare’s most legal plays.

Keywords:   Shakespeare, Othello, Desdemona, murder, adultery, jury, honor killing

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .