William Shakespeare and Othello Webquest: Directions: Research the following topics, and answer the questions in complete sentences. Shakespeare Background: William Shakespeare is an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "the Bard"). 1. Where was William Shakespeare born? 2. What 3 types of plays did Shakespeare write? 3. How many plays AND sonnets did Shakespeare write? 4. How many words did Shakespeare make up? List at least 5. 5. List 5 “Shakespearean Insults”. 6. List 5 interesting facts about William Shakespeare. Play Background: Othello was a respected general in the Venetian Army. He was also a “Moor.” He was born in the country of Mauritania. To better understand Othello, you need to understand his background. 7. Where is Mauritania located? (find a map) 8. What type of people inhabited this land? (ethnicity and religion) 9. What is a Moor? Moors 10. How were moors seen at this time? Setting: The play begins in the prosperous city of Venice, Italy in approximately 1570. In Shakespeare’s time, Venice would have been a very popular and well-known city, with various attitudes surrounding it. The second half of the play takes place on the island of Cyprus. This island also had special significance to the people of Shakespeare’s time. 11. Summarize in 3 sentences what was going on in history at this time in Venice. 12. Describe Venice during Othello’s time (1570). 13. Othello is put in charge of the military outpost at Cyprus. He is supposed to protect it from impending attacks from the Turks (aka Ottomans). There were two main reasons that Cyprus was important to Venice- religion and economy. a. What is the religious significance: b. What are the economic considerations: Race Issue: Racism was a huge issue during Shakespeare’s time, and he would have known it. Othello being a black character who marries a white woman, would have been a hugely scandalous plot for the Renaissance times, and received tons of attention as a result. 14. How many times does Shakespeare use the word, “black” in the play? 15. Who did Elizabethan people consider to be Moors? 16. What is the basis for Othello’s discrimination? Women: The role of women in this play is also a crucial one. The site below examines the roles and attitudes about women and marriage at this time. LINK: Love and Marriage 17. Give a general description about the role of women and marriage at this time: 18. How are women viewed by the society they lived in during the 1570’s? 19. For what two reasons would it have been a big deal that Desdemona and Othello get married? 20. The plot for Othello was based on a short story written by whom? Themes: 21. How would you define the following themes: ● Prejudice ● Jealousy ● Appearance vs. Reality 22. Think about the stories you have read throughout your time at WHHS. Provide an example of a story that shares a theme with each of the above three themes from Othello. 23. Why do you think that jealousy is such a powerful emotion? 24. How does jealousy cause people to act “out of character”? Letter to the Teacher Directions: Briefly answer each of the following questions in complete sentences. Then, choose one question and write a letter to your teacher where you respond more fully to the contents of the question. You may write about a personal experience, your thoughts on the matter, or how you’ve seen this in our society. Be sure to write in complete sentences, and use LITTLE TO NO ERRORS in spelling, punctuation, and grammar. 25. Think of a time when jealousy caused you to act in a manner that you later regretted? Explain this situation and explain how you wished you had handled it differently. 26. What is your personal attitude toward interracial relationships? Do you agree, disagree? When responding to these questions, consider interracial relationships that you have witnessed. What do you think that society’s perception is of interracial relationships? 27. Why do you believe that humans suffer from not being able to judge between truth and falseness? Think of a time when you truly believed that someone was being honest to you and in the end you realized that this person had deceived you? How did this make you feel? Looking back, were there signs that you missed which could have helped you to realize that this individual was deceiving you? Explain.