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Copy of Understanding the Cultural Context of Othello

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Michelle Martin

on 10 December 2013

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Transcript of Copy of Understanding the Cultural Context of Othello

Understanding the Cultural Context of Othello
How were the Moors & Venetians regarded in Shakespeare's Day?
In Shakespeare's day, anyone with dark colored skin was considered savage and without manners.
Military
According to the Venetian law, the army general of the Venetian Republic was required to be a foreigner.
Who were the Moors?
A moor was a Muslim of mixed Arab and North African descent.
Who were the Venetians?
The Venetians were the residents of Venice; Italians. Venetian men and women were portrayed as passionate and flamboyant people.
Controversy
For Shakespeare to portray Othello as an equal would have been a very controversial step in the defiance of racism.
Threats
The Venetians were, of course, Italian, and Spain was seen threatening to England - thus, the Venetians were thought of as unruly people with uncontrollable temperaments, acting of vicious whims without thinking of consequence. Their thoughts were propelled by the threat of Spanish invasion.
Venetian Men & Women
The women were rumored to be beautiful and easily giving of their love. The men were considered to be aggressive and hot-tempered.
General
- commander of an army

Lieutenant
- second in command and one who holds the place of the general in the general's absence

Ancient
- flag bearer; the military rank that holds the flag keeps the position for the soldiers on the battlefield.




What was the role of women?
Wives
became their husband's property and were expected to give them the respect a servant gives his master.
Daughters
were expected to marry, and as child, the daughter is property of her parents, and expected to show the same kind of respect as a slave shows his master.
What rules for getting married existed at the time of the play?
With parental permission, boys were legal to marry at 14, girls at 12, although this was not recommended. It was also considered foolish to marry for love and not financial security - although love did occur in marriage.
The contract of marriage included the provision for the bride's dowry (property or money brought by a bride to her husband on their marriage), as well as settlement (jointure), in cash and property from the husband's family that guarantees her welfare should her husband die.
Social Status
Othello
: general in the service of Venice
Desdemona
: daughter of the senator
Cassio
: lieutenant
Roderigo
: Venetian gentleman
Iago
: ensign, not of gentry class
Emilia
: wife of the ensign; lady in waiting
Full transcript