OF THE BABY NAME BIANCA
Bianca is a minor character in William Shakespeare’s play, “The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice”, believed to have been written between 1601 and 1604, but her activities spur major actions in the play’s plot. Bianca is a prostitute and the lover (and a jealous one) of Cassio, who toys with her affections unmercifully. Iago is trying to convince Othello that his wife, Desdemona, is being unfaithful to him with Cassio. To that end, Iago has planted a handkerchief of Desdemona’s in Cassio’s rooms, which Cassio finds to be a beautiful piece of artistry. He asks Bianca to copy it for him. Bianca is jealous (as usual) and thinks that it probably has been left there by another woman, but she does agree to copy it. Later, Othello eavesdrops on a conversation between Cassio and Iago as they discuss Cassio’s sexual exploits with a woman. Without hearing any name (it is Bianca), Othello comes to the conclusion that they are speaking of Desdemona. When Bianca enters the room, she is still brooding on the possibility of “the other woman”, and she scornfully throws the handkerchief at Cassio’s feet. Upon seeing it, Othello is utterly convinced of the veracity of his suspicions, and begins to plan the deaths of Desdemona and Cassio. It is thus Bianca who unwittingly seals the fate of Othello’s innocent wife – quite a major burden for a minor character! Cassio escapes death, and the play doesn’t specify, but we’re willing to bet he doesn’t spend any more time with poor Bianca.
Bianca is the younger sister of Katherine (the titular shrew) in William Shakespeare’s comedy, The Taming of the Shrew, probably written sometime between 1590 and 1594. Young Bianca is at first seen as the favored child of her father, whose acceptance of a marriage offer from any one of her many avid suitors is put off by her father’s wish to have her disagreeable sister marry first. Sweet little Bianca goes along for the ride, appearing to be demure, obedient and quiet, interested only in her studies. Many a teen-aged girl has pulled the same wool over her father’s eyes! On closer examination, Bianca comes across as quite the manipulator, albeit not in as strident a fashion as her sister, the shrew. She is quite catty toward her sister, taunting her over her state of spinsterhood, and she is as fully capable of flirting as is the best of any coquettes – studies, indeed! Naturally, when Lucentio falls in love with her at first sight, he must exchange identities with his servant, and pose as her Latin tutor. Bianca then elopes with Lucentio, and deceptions follow upon deceptions. When all is resolved, wife-tamings have occurred and wedding banquets have been arranged, it is Bianca, after all, who shows her true colors. After trading a little risqué banter with the boys, she then disobeys her new husband’s orders (upon which he has foolishly set a bet), and when he objects, retorts: “The more fool you for laying on my duty”. This is the woman of whom Lucentio said upon first meeting: “O yes, I saw such beauty in her face…” He just didn’t look much farther than that; it appears that the taming process is unfinished. (And let’s not even begin to address the misogyny issue in the play – for now, let’s just say: “Bianca! You go, girl!”).
The Taming of the Shrew; Othello