Shakespeare’s
“Othello”
(1564-1616)
Shakespeare
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Actor and playwright
Formed his own
theatrical company
Built the Globe Theatre
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Stockholder
Greatest plays
produced here
Burned in 1613
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During performance of
Henry 8th - cannon went
off
Globe
Theatre
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Enclosed space with
partial roof
Seated as many as 2500
3 galleries of seats
around 3 sides
Platform stage extending
from rear wall
Groundlings
Intimate atmosphere
The Old Globe Theatre replica, which opened in
Balboa Park, Sandiego, 1935
http://www.sandiegohistory.org/timeline/timeline3.htm
Conventions of Elizabethan
Drama
Trapdoors
 Inner stage
 Upper stage
 Simple scenery
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Elaborate
costumes
 Female roles
by males
 Elaborate
sound effects
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Shakespeare’s
Greatness
Deep understanding of human nature
 Knowledge in a wide variety of
subjects
 Influence on language
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Freely experimented with grammar,
vocabulary
 Created words: click this link to see
some
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http://shakespeare.about.com/library/weekly/aa042400a.htm
Originated phrases
A Note on Reading
Shakespeare
Keep track of characters
from list
 Poetic language - read slowly &
carefully
 Pay attention to the annotations
 Listen to recording; read summary;
view a video

http://www.tumblebooks.com/talkingbooks/full_book.asp?ProductID=831
Othello,
the Moor
of
Venice
(page 1263)
Plot: Identify which
conflicts occur in the play
and where.
 Person
vs. person
 Person vs. self
 Person vs.
environment
 Person vs. God
Plot: Identify
movement
 Exposition
 Complication
 Climax
 Denouement
Setting: Venice and
Cyprus
Is the setting natural or artificial?
 Is it hostile or friendly?
 Is it limited to one place?
 Shakespeare clearly breaks with
Aristotle’s classical unities in this
play: one plot, one location, over
24-hours.
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Time of Play
Othello elopes with Desdemona;
same night takes ship for Cyprus
 Cassio is disgraced 1st night after
arrival in Cyprus
 Desdemona is killed 2nd night in
Cyprus
 The play spans 3 days, two locations,
and has multiple plots.
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Characterization
 Antagonist
= Iago
 Protagonist
= Othello
Characterization:
Iago
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Laurence Olivier as Iago
www.peopleplayuk.org.uk
Ambitious
Envious of Cassio’s
promotionSexually
jealous of Othello and
Cassio
Greedy
Deceitful
Lustful
Iago
Intelligent
 Cunning
 Capable of tempting and
controlling characters around him
 Villain without conscience
 Diabolically evil while appearing to
be honest, trustworthy
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Iago
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Reduces human
nature to its least
attractive traits
Coarse, blunt
Suspicious view of
human nature allows him to locate
weakness in others
and encourage its
dominance of whole
personality
Iago’s Techniques
for Deception
Instigates others to act
 Pretends to speak only out of the
best motives
 Works through insinuation rather
than through explicit lies
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Othello
Greatness
 Tragic hero
 Virtues carried to excess
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Loves - “too well”
 Trusts - too much
 Great sense of moral virtue punishes sin
 Sensitive nature - vivid fantasies
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Othello
 “Free
and open
nature”
 “Constant, loving,
noble nature”
 Energetic
 Desire for
perfection
 Trusting
Othello’s Insecurities
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HIS BLACKNESS
 A Moor (North Africa)
 Negative stereotyping
by other characters
 Lascivious
 Unnatural mate for
white woman
 Practitioner of black
magic
Othello’s Insecurities
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HIS LACK OF SOPHISTICATION
Not a native of Venice
 At home on battlefield, not in
sophisticated Venetian society
 Lacks self-confidence
 Trusts Iago’s view
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Othello’s Insecurities
 HIS
AGE
 Older
than
Desdemona
 Iago plays
on this
insecurity
Desdemona
 Admirable
 Self-contained
 Speaks
forcefully
and to the point
when she confronts her
father
 Speaks playfully with Iago
while waiting for Othello’s
ship
Desdemona
Is known for her
innocence, purity
 Can plead for Cassio
- but not for herself
 Dutiful, obedient
 Can be regarded as
model Elizabethan
wife
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Symbol: dramatic irony
All the characters believe in
Iago’s honesty.
 Othello believes in
Desdemona’s guilt.
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Confidant(e) - serves a
major character as a
friend
 Emilia
is
confidante to
Desdemona
 Iago is
confidant to
Roderigo
Foil - illuminates a more
important character
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Emilia and
Bianca are
foils to
Desdemona
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Cassio and
Iago are foils
to Othello
Theme
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Human nature is easily manipulated.
Jealousy is like a disease. Humans can
have a terribly dark and cunning side.