Othello The Tragedy of the Moor of Venice How does this title suggest incongruity and dichotomy? Context 16th century – trade expanding; new cultures explored including Mauritania. Moor – person from here. Islamic region. Race – different concept then; careful not to assume it is a racist play. Othello’s job - Army general – position with prestige and respect Play starts in Venice, Italy. Dichotomous settings On the edge of Christianity. Symbolises law, wealth culture, civility –the Renaissance. BUT -city also well know for its prostitutes. Loose morals. Used by Iago to besmirch D. Licentious place! At war with Ottoman empire. Army camp – male dominated. BUT also Cyprus -island – linked to Venus Goddess of love. Urbane Civilized also depraved! Barbarous Savage Military island The backdrop of war • Othello – Venetian army general • The Ottoman Empire (Turkish) powerful in Europe, mostly Islamic ruling classes and government. Western Europe suspicious of them. • 1570 Turks attacked Cyprus – rulesd by Venice since 1489. Turkish won and Cyprus was theirs. (many wars later, now half Greek and half Turkish!) • Shakespeare changes history to make the war not happen! STORM! Race Renaissance attitudes to race – dependent on where people were from. Othello – Arab African? Black African? Theatre at the time – black men presented as blood thirsty and violent There were black people in England – Elizabeth 1596 tried to send 10 home! Moorish Am Beginning of period of the discourse of the colonised and the coloniser. England – sailing and dominating the seas. Tawny Moors – Med coast Vs Sounthern blackamores Insults – hyperbole? Many think he is Barabary – north African. Is Shakespeare reinforcing ideas of race – or critiquing it? Blackness – inferior/devilish BUT DUKE accepts him! Bestial Fearsome Witchcraft Devil Opposite of white – purity/perfection ACT 1 What themes are introduced and explored in Act 1?