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Othello Notes

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Othello Notes

What is the play about? Othello themes consist of: * Jealousy (the sexual jealousy of Othello, and Iago’s expert envy of Cassio * Look versus reality (including honesty/dishonesty, loyalty/disloyalty) * Reputation * Public versus private concerns * Racism (including notions of alienation and belonging) Cultural materialist– Argues the play uses a subversive critique of the social and political beliefs of Shakespeare’s time e. g. acism and sexism viewed as inherent in the method early (and late) capitalist society is structured Feminist– Stresses the value of the 3 ladies characters and checks out the method limitations are imposed on their liberty to act. New historicist– Places the play firmly in its historical context Efficiency criticism– Checks out Othello as theatre; analysis of productions and previous and present Post-colonial criticism– exposes colonial European concepts of race and distinction Post-modernist– the focus is on the text itself, instead of on its context Psychoanalytical– Focuses on sub-currents of desire, and quelched sexuality e. Iago’s attitudes to sex and women use an efficient beginning point for analysis Characters * Traditional criticism concentrate on Othello as an awful hero * Othello’s flaw is jealousy, but a various reading argues that it is egotism It’s a male’s world! The representation of ladies * There are only three woman in the play * Each female character is bound up in a relationship with a guy (just one endures) How Othello develops The play Othello changes from the ‘noble Moor’ to a ‘devil’ and a ‘homicidal coxcomb’ Iago– a dream profile * He puts on the external appearance of the bluff, honest soldier but behind that false exterior he lies to, psychologically tortures and betrays Othello The language of Othello Significant language * Shakespeare theatre conditions were various from today: outdoor stages, no electic light; little bit in the way of surroundings, couple of props. * Phase directions * Setting the scene * Voicing a character’s ‘ideas’ Verse and prose Verse– generally spoken by high-status characters * Othello’s early speech are in iambic pentameters (lines with a five-beat rhythm) * Lines are often run on enjambement (one line of verse into the next line without a time out) * Iago’s speeches are often end-stopped or with mid-line pause (helps to suggest he is a plain-speaking man) * Prose– typically utilized by comic or low-status characters * Iago use of prose provide the impression of informal talk, taking others into his confidence Images

Animals * Used by Iago e. g. an old black ram * Othello comes under Iago’s influence, he echoes Iago’s option of envision e. g. I had rather be a toad * Exposed as a bad guy, Iago is called ‘inhuman pet or ‘viper’ Poison and disease * Iago’s words function as poison in the play: ‘toxin his delight’ * Othello’s jealousy imitates toxin: ‘if there be cord or knives’ * Othello asks Iago genuine toxin: ‘Get me some poison, Iago, this night’ Hell and the devil Iago to Brabantio: ‘the devil will make a gransire of you’ * Brabantio to Othello: ‘Damned as thou art, thou hast enchanted her’ * Iago about himself: ‘Divinity of hell!/ When devils will the blackest sins place on,/ they do recommend in the beginning with incredible shows/ as I do now.’ * Othello on revenge: ‘Occur, black revenge, from thuy hollow cell’ * Othello on Desdemonda: ‘the reasonable devil’ * Emilia to Othello: ‘thou art a devil’ * Iago is realved to be ‘tat demi-devil’

Images: Othello avoiding reality * Othello can not deal with the truth of his own function, the living female prior to him and his desired act Is Othello a racist play? * Psychologically unstable * Physically aggressive * Sensuous * Remarkably jealous * Extremely gullible * His main action in the play is to strangle a white female. He is black. A clear example of offending racial stereotyping * Travel writers depicted the locals of Africa as barbarous, lawless and ‘an individuals of beastly lyvinge’ What the critics state Seventeenth-century: ‘With us a Blackamoor may rise to be a trumpeter … With us a Moor may wed some little drab, or Small-coal Wench … certynly never was any Play filled like this of Othello with improbabilities’ * A century later, Samuel Taylor Coleridge expresses a comparable view: ‘It would be something monstrous to develop this stunning Ventrian girl falling in love with a genuine negro’ * Twentieth-century writers on Othello concentrated on discussing Othello would have been Arabic in appearance ‘Much more fair than black’ Identify the outright and deliberate racist abuse in much of Iago’s and Roderigo’s dialogue (‘the thick-lips’ or ‘an old black ram’) Portrayals * The standard image of hell Is a place of evil, torture and darkness * Early church paintings devil were constantly depicted as black. This representation is really evident in Emilia’s raving at Othello for killing Desdemona Monochrome images * At the heart of the play is the marriage of a black man and a white woman, seen by much of the play’s characters to be ‘against all rules of nature’. In the cultural and historic context of the play black and white can be related with dark and light, hell and paradise, good and bad * The contrast between black and white is further magnified by Shakespeare’s usage of reverse * Othello is black-skinned and typically described by his colour or ethnicity (‘the Moor’) * White-skinned Iago who ends up being the devil and who immerses himself in images of hell and night *

Desdemona’s fairness is emphasised and even at the end of the play * Othello refers to her as a ‘pearl’ and as ‘light’ * Othello is damaged by iago and his relationship with Desdemona is ‘blackened’ by lies * Othello becomes more mindful of himself as black and begins to conform to prevailing racist stereotypes Othello in performance * Othello was basically noble and was lowered by Iago’s villainy * In contrast, Othello is self-centred and self-dramatising, all too ready to think Iago’s hints and lies Openings Shakespeare understood he needed to catch the interest of his audience right at the start of each play * Many plays we frequently discover energetic discussion, intriguing situations and conflict Casting: customs of ‘blacking-up’ * Othello has actually been used phase by white stars ‘blacked-up’ * Olivier represented Othello as a sensuous and hardly civilised egotist * Othello was portrayed by black American actor, nowadays, the majority of audiences expect to see a black actor playing Othello

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