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The End of SatisfactionDrama and Repentance in the Age of Shakespeare$
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Heather Hirschfeld

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780801452741

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801452741.001.0001

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“Wooing, wedding, and repenting”

“Wooing, wedding, and repenting”

The Satisfactions of Marriage in Othello and Love’s Pilgrimage

(p.119) Chapter 5 “Wooing, wedding, and repenting”
The End of Satisfaction

Heather Hirschfeld

Cornell University Press

This chapter maintains that satisfaction is a qualitative and quantitative principle that organizes various categories of exchange: of transgression and redemption, of violation and vendetta, of debt and repayment. In Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, these categories converge in the famous “flesh bond,” which restricts the characters' financial as well as religious and emotional interdependencies. These interdependencies share their syntax with an additional category of interpersonal exchange: marriage. The institution of marriage, given its role as a socioeconomic, affective, and sexual transaction, is implicated in the history of satisfaction. Marriage's place in history is determined by its conceptual and instrumental proximity to repentance. Shakespeare's Othello dwells on marital satisfaction in tragic detail. Othello's lament records a comprehensive sense that “enough” is no longer available in the realm of matrimonial love.

Keywords:   satisfaction, The Merchant of Venice, flesh bond, marriage, repentance, Othello, marital satisfaction

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