1. Playfulness: How playful is this play? In what ways can it be considered to be a play about creative processes, such as collage and criticism, that bring together disparate things for a purpose? What purposes might the playfulness of this work serve? How does the humour facilitate such purposes?
  2. Genealogy: Read Othello and Romeo and Juliet. Consider carefully the selections from each of these tragedies in Goodnight Desdemona. What do MacDonald’s selections emphasize about the original plays? How are voices manipulated and switched? You might consider, for instance, the repetition of the scene about honesty and thinking between Othello and Iago by Constance and Desdemona.
  3. Feminist carnivalesque: Shannon Hengen posits that this play is an example of Canadian feminist carnivalesque since it opens Canadian feminist comedy to exactly such profaning through laughter which Gash associates with the potential for real social or political change (97). Consider Hengen’s argument: do you agree with her interpretations of key events? Do you think MacDonald successfully profanes gender norms and promotes social change? What might be the deficits in her radical comedy? Consider Melanie Stevenson’s discussion of race, for instance.

Works Cited

  • MacDonald, Ann-Marie. Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet). Toronto: Vintage Canada, 1990. Print.
  • Hengen, Shannon. Towards a Feminist Comedy. Canadian Literature 146 (1995): 97–109. Print. (PDF)
  • Stevenson, Melanie A. Othello, Darwin, and the Evolution of Race in Ann-Marie MacDonald’s Work. Canadian Literature 168 (2001): 34–54. Print. (PDF)