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Theatre / Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)

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Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet is a 1988 play by Canadian author and playwright Ann-Marie MacDonald. The protagonist, Constance Ledbelly, is a professor of English literature at Queens University; she is working on a thesis that Othello and Romeo and Juliet were originally comedies, and are prevented from being so only because of the absence of the Wise Fool archetype — and further, that the original comedic idea for each play originates from the mysterious Gustav Manuscript. A moment of despair, brought on by a visit from her critical boss, causes her to plunge into a subconscious journey of self-discovery through the worlds of the two plays.

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This play contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: In-Universe. Desdemona turns out to be more fiery, assertive, warlike and vengeful than she was indicated to be in Shakespeare's play. Lampshaded by Constance.
  • Close-Enough Timeline: Iago's manipulations of Desdemona results in her speaking some of the same lines that Othello spoke in the original play.
  • Crossover: Desdemona ends up in the world of Romeo and Juliet, where she ends up vying with Juliet for Constance's love. The ghost from Hamlet has a presence there too.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Constance's arrival at this is what sets her subconscious journey in motion.
  • Deus ex Machina: Constance herself ends up being this in Othello and Romeo and Juliet, as she comes in from outside both worlds and secures the happy ending.
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  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Within a minute of Constance's arrival in Othello, she unthinkingly exposes the scheming of Shakespeare's arguably most brilliant villain. He quickly finds another target, however...
  • Disguised in Drag: Juliet and Romeo both dress up as each other, in attempts to win Constance's love. Constance also inadvertently becomes this when she is mistaken as a man.
  • For Want of a Nail: Constance's entrance into the stories of Othello and Romeo and Juliet changes the course of both storylines, diverting them away from their tragic ends. Her first actions in each story are to out Iago's devious plot to Othello, prevent Mercutio's death and tell Tybalt of Romeo's marriage.
  • Genre Savvy: Constance, as a result of having extensively studied both of the plays in which she ends up.
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  • Giving Them the Strip: An accidental version; at the end of the second act, Desdemona grabs Constance to kill her, when the latter is suddenly dragged away offstage by an unseen force propelling her towards the world of Romeo and Juliet, while Desdemona is left holding onto her skirt. This is plot-relevant, as the absence of Constance's skirt causes Romeo to mistake her as a man.
  • Gratuitous Iambic Pentameter: Upon arriving in the world of Othello at the beginning of Act 2, Constance finds herself automatically and effortlessly talking in iambic pentameter, just like the characters around her.
  • It Was with You All Along: Constance finds that the archetypal Wise Fool she has been seeking is herself, and she is also the Author.
  • Love at First Sight: Deconstructed. Their tragic fate having been averted by Constance's intervention in their world, Romeo and Juliet get bored with each other after one night together and seek love elsewhere.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Constance has this reaction when she realizes that she has irrevocably altered the course of Othello.
    Constance: I've wrecked a masterpiece! I've ruined the play! I've turned Shakespeare's Othello into a farce!
  • Poisonous Friend: After his attempts to brainwash Othello are ruined by Constance, Iago starts working on Desdemona instead, convincing her that Constance is a witch who is after her husband.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Constance does this in the worlds of two Shakespeare plays in the course of her journey of self-discovery, averting both of their tragic endings.
  • Signature Item Clue: His original plot with the handkerchief having been foiled, Iago concocts a new one involving a necklace given to Constance by Othello.
  • Sweet on Polly Oliver: At the beginning of Act 3, Constance is plunged into the world of Romeo and Juliet, but has lost the skirt that she wore over her trousers, causing her to become mistaken as a man. Romeo promptly falls for "him".
  • Title Drop: Constance speaks the play's title at the end, as she bids farewell to the two respective leading ladies.
  • Trapped in TV Land: Constance finds herself plunged into the worlds of Othello and Romeo and Juliet.
  • Unfazed Everyman: Constance, to some extent. Justified since she has studied the fictional worlds in which she finds herself.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: When Constance outs Iago's scheming, he quickly recovers, and uses the opportunity to insinuate to Desdemona that Constance is trying to steal Othello from her.

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