Fate, or Why Doesn’t Desdemona Call The Hotline?

I must have been a Junior in high school when I fell out with English literature. I suddenly found it all unbearable, that waiting around for fate. Why didn’t Desdemona go to the battered women’s shelter before Othello could kill her? So she was on an island, so what? Why didn’t Jane Austen’s heroines just LEAVE and go somewhere else, preferably Haight-Ashbury? I’d go too.
Today I sat in the theater five minutes from my house and watched the Metropolitan Opera simulcast of “Carmen.” Right after intermission, a sense of dread overtook me. Had I left the kettle on? Missed an important appointment? The dread was getting worse and worse until I realized–Carmen is going to die! How had I forgotten? I’d seen the opera live just last summer. Everyone knows, even Carmen knows. I was so overcome I covered my eyes with my hands and had to peek through to see the end.
In the movie “Black Orpeus” people tease Orpheus, asking–where is Eurydice? He’s set to marry someone named Mira until Eurydice shows up, and then the rest is, well…fate. I resist it less than when I was sixteen. I’ve already experienced a lot of my fate.
Heraclitus famously said, “character is man’s (and woman’s) daimon.” Thomas Hardy translated it, “character is destiny.” Of course no one can really ever know that about herself. Until the fat lady sings.

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