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Alyssa DBazo

on 19 February 2015

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Transcript of Othello

Race as Social Mirror
Othello was written in 1603
1603 was a transition time in England between the Elizabethean and Jacobean eras
The Handkerchief: It's different Representaitons
Slavery & Belonging
Brothers & Others
The Other
Vulnerability of Otherness in

English Ethnocentrism
Color Reversals
"Culture was coming to be a distinguishing feature of Europe. Furthermore, as Winthrop Jordan argues, the Protestant Reformation in England, with its emphasis upon personal piety and intense self-scrutiny and internalized control, facilitated the tendency evidenced in Englishmen to use people overseas as social mirrors."
Martin Orkin's
Othello and the "plain face" Of Racism:
“Literate Englishmen concerned with the apparent disintegration of social and moral controls at home” were on occasion inclined to project their own weaknesses onto outsiders, to discover attributes in others “which they found first, but could not speak of, in themselves” (Jordan pp. 23-24).
The handkerchief is the key figure in the story
“an old black ram is tupping your white ewe” (I.I.88-89)
"you’ll have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse. You’ll have your nephews neigh to you. You’ll have coursers for cousins and gennets for germans." (I.I.112-114)
“Certainly no performance of the play can occur without it… In its three brief appearances, the handkerchief draws the six characters its touches – Othello, Desdemona, Emilia, Iago, Cassio, Bianca – into its own repetitive story, a story which begins in love and end in death” - Sofer
is the only character to actually partake
in English ethnocentrism as the others have long disassociated Othello's exterior from his military valor.
“He comes from the ancient places of the earth; prophetic sibyls and magic in the web need not be alien to one who has traveled among the Anthropophagi. Desdemona, who seems convinced for one horrified moment ("Then would to God that I had never seen it!"), soon pushes this knowledge from her. Her unwillingness to accept the story indicates her rejection of an aspect of Othello's character that is real enough to us, and is no less naive than her failure to detect jealousy; for the handkerchief is in harmony with what we know of Othello. It was given, he tells Desdemona, when his fate would have him wives; even at the end of the play he retains this sense of fated action” -Andrews.
"That handkerchief did an Egypti to my mother give. She was a charmer, and could almostt read the thoughts of people. She told her, while she kept it 'twould make her amiable, and subdue my father entirely to her love; but if she lost it, or made a gift of it, my father's eye should hold her loathed, and his spirits should hunt after new fancies. She, dying, gave it me, and bid me, when my fate would have me wived, to give it her. I did so, and take heed on't. Make it a darling, like your precious eye to lose it or give't away were such perdition as nothing else could match " - Othello (3.4.54-66)
“To lose, or give it away, were such perdition as nothing else could match” – Othello (3.4.65-66)

“That handkerchief which I so lov’d, and gave thee” – Othello (5.2.50-51)

“What was originally an acknowledged token, only a token, of a man’s love, Othello tries willfully to make into first a symbol and later a proof of a woman’s love. Bu he can only make it, by arbitrarily willing to be, a proof of her reputation” - Hudson

The handkerchief and it's magical properties
The handkerchief's representation of Desdemonas reputation


victim of otherness
What is the meaning of the handkerchief in the play?

“I ne’re saw this before. Sure there’s some wonder in this handkerchief. I am most unhappy in the loss of it”- Desdemona (3.4.97-102)
Othello, Desdemona and Emilia (1867), Daniel Maclise
What is the meaning of the handkerchief in the play?
It plays as a veil over the characters otherness. When the handkerchief is misplaced, that it is when the characters in the play begin to show their “other” side.
Desdemona attributes positivity to Othello's race:
"Who, he? I think the sun
where he was born drew
all such humors from him." (3.4.27-28)
Adelman, Janet. "Iago's Alter Ego: Race as Projection in Othello." Shakespeare Quarterly 48.2 (1997): 125-44. Print.

Andrew, Michael C. “Honest Othello: The Handkerchief Once More.”
Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900
13.2 (1973): 273-284. Print.

Cohen, Derek (2003). Searching Shakespeare: Studies in Culture and Authority. University of Toronto Press. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-8020-8778-2.

Hodgson, John A. “Desdemona’s Handkerchief as an Emblem of Her Reputation.”
Texas Studies in Literature and Language
19.3 (1977): 313-322. Print.

Huang, Alexa; Rivlin, Elizabeth (23 October 2014). Shakespeare and the Ethics of Appropriation. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 172. ISBN 978-1-137-37577-3.

"Omkara." IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2015.

Orkin, Martin. "Othello and the "plain Face" of Racism." Shakespeare Quarterly Summer 38.2 (1987): 166-88. Print.

Sofer, Andrew. “Felt Absence: The Stage Properties of
Comparative Drama
31.3 (1997): 367-393. Print.

After Othello and Desdemona have proved to the Senate that they are indeed in love, the Duke tries to talk Brabantio into accepting the marriage.

"And, noble signior, If virtue no delighted [delightful] beauty lack, / Your son-in-law is far more fair than black" (1.3.288-290).

"Fair" means "white," but also "beautiful" and "good." The Duke's point is that Brabantio would be wiser to quit focusing on Othello's color and start appreciating his virtue.

Othello - Moor (Black)

Iago - The Villain
Desdemona & Emilia - The Women
Roderigo - The Jealous Suitor
Michael Cassio - The Inexperienced Lieutenant
Africans were used as slaves and traded.

Associated with evil and witchcraft.

"Awake the snorting citizens with a bell,
or else the Devil will make a grandsire of you."
- Iago

Barbanzio's Accusation: pg. 2125 line 63
Women were property to be traded for
some sort of benefit to her family.

Women were under the control of their
husbands once they were married, which
a woman could not do without her father's
"This was her first remembrance from the Moor,
My wayward husband hath a hundred times
Wooed me to steal it, but she so loves the token
For he conjured her she should ever keep it-
That she reserves it evermore about her-
To kiss and talk to. I'll ha' the work ta'en out,
And give't Iago. what he will do with it,
Heaven knows, not I.
I nothing, but to please his fantasy."
Shakespeare and the Ethics of Appropriation
"...extravagant and wheeling stranger/ Of here and everywhere." - Roderigo 1.1.137-38
"Haply, for I am black..."
Possession of Desdemona
Brabantio ~ King Lear
Desdemona ~ Cordelia
She is "stol'n" - 1.3.60
"For thy escape would teach me tyranny" - 1.3.196
himself to fall into his other
Characters disregard Desdemona
It's "natural" for her to waver. Othello strikes her with circumstancial proof
Slave = villain
The word "slave" in Shakespeare is a term of abuse. The Tempest. "Poisonous." "Lying." "Abhored." - Derek Cohen
Lodovico: "O thou, Othello, thou wert once so good,/ Fall'n in the practise of a damned slave,/ What shall be said to thee?" 5.2.297-99
Full transcript