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Othello

Introduction
by

Kimberly Cooney

on 14 November 2011

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Transcript of Othello

The Tragedy of
Othello: The Moor of Venice

The Where and the When
Venice, 15th century
A powerful city-state
Commercial center in Europe
Protector of Christian faith against Turkish infidels
Characterized as the center of civilized courtly demeanor
Venice was also a seat of much corruption and abuses of political power
“Venice was an over-civilized, licentious, ingrown society that carried with it the potential for its own destruction.”
—Insights 2002
CypRus, 15th century
A fortified outpost on the edge of Christian territory
Infinitely more barbarous
Bastion of male and military power
The social context of war
The Plot
The people
Keep your eye on the spread of Islam vs Christinaity
Moors
North Africans, West Africans, or even non-whites or muslims of any origin
Typically were seen as outsiders but could be accepted into Christian society on a limited basis
Othello is a general, a military leader, in Venice. But he is an outsider because he is from another country—and , more importantly, of another race.
When Othello secretly marries the young, beautiful and noble Desdemona, her father, Brabantio, wants Othello to be arrested.
But Desdemona loves Othello and doesn’t care that he is an outsider.
While Othello is well-respected by the Duke, not everyone is happy with his leadership choices of Cassio and Iago.
Cassio means well but is open to bad influences.
Iago pretends to be Othello’s friend, but secretly resents him for passing him over for the number two spot.
Iago is determined to get revenge.
He decides to attack Othello in his most vulnerable spot…

his love for Desdemona
Will Othello be able to see through Iago’s schemes?
Or will jealousy and revenge turn to murder?
Othello
“The Moor”
A Prince in his native land
A well-respected General in the Venetian Army (Venetian law required that this be a foreigner to prevent personal politics influencing military decisions)
Mercenary (soldier for hire)
Would have been admired for his valor and leadership, but people would still object to his marrying into a Venetian family.
Iago
Valiant and loyal soldier
No military education, but…military field experience
Othello’s “ancient”
Third in command
Appears to be everyone’s friend but…
Makes racist comments about Othello
Cheats Roderigo out of money
Desdemona
Beautiful Lady of Venice
Senator’s daughter
Compassionate
Fair-minded
Completely devoted to Othello
Willful
Impetuous
passion
jealousy
revenge
prejudice
Themes
The tasks
“I am not what I am”
“I follow him to serve my turn upon him”
“I saw Othello’s visage in his mind…”
“My parts, my title and my perfect soul shall manifest me rightly”
Othello does “lov[e] his own pride and purposes”
“Look to her Moor…”
“She wished that heaven had made her such a man”
“…my ancient. A man he is of honesty and trust.”
How about some important quotations?

Consider what you think each quotation reveals about the person speaking/being spoken about and what they are like as a character.
How about connecting to today?

Think about the cultural rules that you live by.
What rules dictate the behaviour of young men and women in relationships today?
What are the things “nice girls” just don’t do?
What are the things “nice boys” just don’t do?
What do you think the consequences are of breaking these rules?
How about a motif: Deception

Do you agree with the following statements?
“We are never deceived; we deceive ourselves.”
“Deception is a cruel act... It often has many players on different stages that corrode the soul.”
“It's better to get something worthwhile done using deception than to fail to get something worthwhile done using truth.”
“Truth lives on in the midst of deception”
How about some homework?

Act I, scene i and related questions
Full transcript