Saturday, 28 March 2015

Ann-Marie MacDonald's Good Night Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)

Please post your insights about Ann-Marie MacDonald's play - as well as all comments about Shakespeare's Othello and Romeo and Juliet here!

Thank you!


  1. If anyone is interested, here is the link to our prezi :)

  2. I enjoyed “Goodnight Desdemona (Good morning Juliet)” because of the twist each character had. I liked their funny quirks and dramatic personalities. I wanted to talk about the main character Constance and what she brings to the plate.
    Constance is a student and assistant professor. She is getting her doctorate and working on her doctoral dissertation. My first impression of her was that she was slightly gullible. When the student lies and says Constance gave her an extension and even added in a fake cough, I was surprised she believed her.
    When Constance throws her possessions into the wastebasket and is sucked into it, we see more of her traits as the adventure continues. She proves herself as a hero by intervening in the killing of Desdemona. She tells Othello that Iago is tricking him.
    Another heroic act occurred when Constance tackles Romeo before Tybalt can stab Mercutio. On top of that, Constance pins Juliet down when she tries to kill herself.
    When Constance is immersed into the world of Shakespeare, it stirs everything and everyone up. In my opinion, she steals the show, bringing peace and drama all at the same time. She breaks and heals hearts. The scenes are filled with irony and surprises. The book would not be the same without her.

  3. I really loved "Goodnight Desdemona (Good morning Juliet)" because it put a new spin on the first Shakespeare play I ever read which was "Romeo and Juliet". I first read the play in grade 8 and I remember thinking about how foolish Romeo and Juliet were for falling in love so easily. If I'm not mistaken, Juliet is the same age I was when I first read the play, 13. So I found it very hard to believe that someone my age could do something like get married. And to someone who is known for "falling in love" with other girls and women just as easily.
    This is why I adored the scene in which Romeo and Juliet wake up after being married and fight over the turtle. It perfectly illustrated everything that I had thought was not right about the play when I first read it. MacDonald portrayed the scene in such a wonderful way. I could not have imagined it to be written any differently. Further, seeing Romeo fall for Constance was also very funny to me. It perfectly showed how much of a fickle character he is when it comes to love. Also, seeing Juliet be her own person and not defined by her love for Romeo was very refreshing to me.
    I liked "Romeo and Juliet" but found it to be a bit unbelievable. And although I loved the spin this play put on the original, I have to say that if "Romeo and Juliet" were to be written in the way MacDonald imagined, I don't think it would have been as enjoyable. To enjoy the humor in this play, the original work needed to have its own flaws.

  4. Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) can be interpreted in a poststructuralist critique. Ann-Marie Macdonald would surely have been involved in a movement of poststructural feminism which gained support in the early 1980s. Since poststructural feminism takes its roots from key principles of poststructural discourse in philosophy, Macdonald's play would surely have integrated aspects critical to poststructuralism.

    One of these, derived from the work of Michel Foucault, involve the role of an author and the author function within a piece of literature. Constance's appearance in the play as both author as well as the author function, as well as manipulation of prior traditional texts serves as a bridge for de-centering the role of the author and separation between author and literary work. This notion of interpretation as derivative to the reader and not the author's intention is a key element of predecessors of poststructuralism such as Foucault and Barthes.

    A second reference to poststructuralism, and particularly poststructural feminism, is that of binary oppositions, in this specific case, gender constructs. Binaries and dualities are significant archetypal forces which shape all philosophical matters; as yin and yang, black and white, strong and weak are opposing forces. Poststructural thought of binary oppositions undermine the strength of the stronger force, instead acknowledging the dependency of the strong force as a necessary foil to the weak (for example, one cannot know good without knowing evil; instead of black and white there are shades of grey). Poststructural feminism borrows from these binary oppositions and applies them to gender constructs, especially the relationship of the male and female as dependent forces. Macdonald's glorification of the androgynous characteristics rather than gender-specific attributes as fundamental to the play, involved in the crossdressing and nonchalance towards gender change, are key examples of deconstructing the binaries of male and female and replacements towards a fluid linear gender form.

  5. One of the things that really stuck out to me about the play was the depth of understanding that the author had about Shakespeare, and the way she was able to integrate that into modern life. She used humour to speak about injustices and highlight truths that exist today. I think the fact that the play takes stories that are so old and changes them helped me to think about them in a new way, and to consider perspectives I hadn't realized before.

    Some of my favourite lines from the play were:
    "I've slaved for years to get my doctorate
    but in a field like mine that's so well trod,
    you run the risk of contradicting men
    who've risen to the rank of sacred cow,
    and dying on the horns of those who rule
    the pasture with an iron cud."

    This is a good example of a point where MacDonald integrates blank verse with Constance's modern diction, as well as using humour and satire to point out a very real unfairness.

  6. MacDonald's poor view of Romeo and Juliet shows her truth for a new form of desire. She focusses on including all forms of intertextuality. Marta Dvorak, who is the Professor of Canadian and postcolonial literatures at the Sorbonne Nouvelle from the Canadian Theatre Review explains how in the final part of the play, “the third warp effect brings us full circle when Desdemona bursts into Juliet's bedroom (in which the young girl is courting Constance), and tries to smother Constance with a pillow.” Constance plays dead, where Romeo, still dressed in Juliet's gown, falls in love with Desdemona. Dvorak explains “A hero from one Shakespearean tragedy courting the heroine of another one amounts to a leap in the practice of intertextuality.”

    In the end however, the prologue doesn’t forget its reasoning "mingling and unmingling opposites / transform base metal into precious gold". Constance soon realized to understand that she is under control of her whole life. As well she becomes wise enough to laugh at her own miseries. She transformed to deal with her own situations in life pretty well. Goodnight Desdemona in Johnston’s eyes “requires energy and intelligence but little in the way of theatrical pyrotechnics”. Constance left her everyday reality and turned to the fictional worlds of Othello and Romeo. Irene Backalenick who has a PHD in Theatre Criticism from New York, wrote that Constance “arrives in time to alter the course of history and, she admits, "to destroy a masterpiece" (in fact, two masterpieces). She stops Romeo from killing Tybalt, and she discloses Iago's handkerchief trick.”

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  8. I found “Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)” to be very interesting. It gave me a new perspective on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” “Good Night Desdemona” explored many feminist ideas. As Constance delves into the world of Shakespeare, she shows readers that sexism is extremely common in literature and history. We can see the amount, no matter how small, of distrust and dislike Iago and Romeo had for women. “Goodnight Desdemona” teaches readers that it is important to recognize strong, heroic females of the past. I liked how although talking about a serious subject, MacDonald still used a lot of humour. It makes the play easier and more fun to read. Constance's character was always entertaining and I loved how she twisted the plotline between Romeo and Juliet.

    1. I also found this feminist take to be a very interesting one! It was completely unexpected for me, but it worked out surprisingly well in m opinion! As I (and probably many MANY others) have mentioned before, I think the most common reason for reading and studying Shakespeare today is to see the common thread that links humanity across time- seeing that the problems faced by Shakespeare's characters when the plays were written are hardly different from the challenges we face today. I think this play takes that sentiment to the next level. Instead of making tangential connections between current events and those of Shakespeare's time, Ann Marie MacDonald quite literally drags her protagonist, kicking and screaming, into Shakespeare's time. There Constance discovers that the women of his day weren't as passive and naive as they are portrayed, but are actually strong female figures with their own passions and desires, as well as similar feminist struggles to those facing women today.

  9. While initially the novel did not resonate with me, upon critical analysis I fond myself becoming more and more inclined to relate to the progression of the story. In a patriarchal world it is very seldom you see women taking charge and leading the discourse on a topic. Yet this is exactly what the script does through it's plot. It places women at the forefront of discussion and plot and in doing so allow for these patriarchal aspects to come about in the story, forming a well build feminist critique. Additionally, I liked the fact that the story was in the form of a script. I used to be very involved in acting and the chance to read a script was particularly nostalgic. As a plus I did find that my theatre background did help me read the story as sometimes script writing can be hard to digest, given the lack of a visual outside conversation between characters. While sometimes more difficult to read I did find that this format suited the novel more clearly as the character's voices were made that much more important, something that aids a novel that looks at gender politics. Having who is speaking and what they are speaking being at the the centre of a readers attention helps character building and making personal development clear