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It ends with the death of numerous characters including the title character ... is one of Shakespeare's most sinister villains, often considered so because of ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Othello

  • An Introduction

Othello A Shakespearean Tragedy
  • Othello is a Shakespearean Tragedy
  • It encompasses elements of tragedies such as
  • It ends with the death of numerous characters
    including the title character
  • It encompasses historical and military details
  • The protagonist is admirable, but flawed, with
    the audience able to understand and sympathise
    with the character.
  • The protagonist is capable of both good and evil
  • Free will is insisted upon the protagonist must
    always be able to back out of a situation or to
    redeem themselves but always towards their
    inevitable doom.

The worlds greatest
  • By the time hed written Othello (around 1604)
    Shakespeare was considered the greatest
    playwright of his day.
  • Many feel that Shakespeare's later plays show a
    darker, more pessimistic view of the world than
    his early plays.
  • Under James I (his rule is referred to as the
    Jacobean period), England lost some of its power
    and prosperity. Too, conflicts between Catholics
    and Protestants led to civil strife.
    Shakespeare's earlier plays reflected Elizabeth's
    golden reign. By 1604, when Othello was first
    produced, the headiness of the Elizabethan period
    was recent history.
  • This is reflected in the fact that, unlike his
    other tragedies, there is no resolution to the
    conflict caused at the end of the play.

The Plot
  • The plot for Othello was developed from a story
    in Cinthio's collection, the Hecatommithi, which
    it follows closely. The only named character in
    Cinthio's story is "Disdemona", which means
    "unfortunate" in Greek the other characters are
    identified only as "the standard-bearer", "the
    captain", and "the Moor".
  • The first known performance of the play occurred
    on November 1st 1604 at Whitehall Palace in

Othello a moor
  • Othello is described in the play as a moor, and a
    general in the Venetian Army.
  • The origin of the word moor comes from the word
    mauri which was used to describe a group of
    people called the Berbers, who came from North

What does it mean to be Moorish?
  • Moors were characterised in Elizabethan England
    as being alternately or simultaneously noble or
    monstrous, civil or savage.
  • It was often the case (in literature) that a moor
    was presented as someone accepted by society to a
    certain point, but then rejected due to other

  • Iago is one of Shakespeares most sinister
    villains, often considered so because of the
    unique trust Othello puts in him, which he
    betrays while maintaining his reputation of
    honesty and dedication.
  • Shakespeare contrasts Iago with Othellos
    nobility and integrity.
  • Iago is a malcontent he has a bitter and
    cyncial view of the world around him.
  • The name Iago is a shortened version of the
    Spanish name Santiago or St James.
  • Saint James of Spain was also known as St James
    the Moor Killer which seems appropriate within
    the play.

Winning a fair lady
  • Men were expected to go through distinct stages
    of courtly love in order to woo a woman.
  • It was thought that love wasnt entirely
    platonic, but that it was based on sexual
  • As the etiquette of courtly love became more
    complicated, the knight might wear the colours of
    his lady blue or black were the colors of
    faithfulness green was a sign of unfaithfulness.
  • The stages of courtly love
  • Attraction to the lady, usually via eyes/glance
  • Worship of the lady from afar
  • Declaration of passionate devotion
  • Virtuous rejection by the lady
  • Renewed wooing with oaths of virtue and eternal
  • Moans of approaching death from unsatisfied
    desire (and other physical manifestations of
  • Heroic deeds of valor which win the lady's heart
  • Consummation of the secret love
  • Endless adventures and subterfuges avoiding

The Wifes Status
  • The husband, in the accepted role as head of the
    household, gives moral direction to his wife and
    children--who sit obediently listening.
  • Ye women, submit your selves unto your own
    husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is
    the wife's head, even as Christ is the head of
    the Church, and he is the saviour of the whole
    body. Therefore as the Church in congregation is
    subject unto Christ so likewise let the wives be
    in subjection unto their own husbands in all
    things (The Book of Common Prayer)
  • A typical wife receiving her instruction

Evil Women!
  • The men in Othello have differing views of
    women from Othello who idolizes his wife
    (Desdemona) to Iago who sees love as "merely a
    lust of the blood and a permission of the will.
  • The attitudes of the audience at the time are
    likely to have been varied too.
  • In the Elizabethan times there was a long and
    well established tradition in the Church of what
    we would now call misogyny women were
    distrusted simply because they were women. At
    the time it was assumed that women would cheat
    it was part of their nature!

The Cuckold
  • Any man whose wife cheated on him (without his
    knowledge) was known as a cuckold.
  • The word derives from cuckoo the bird known
    for laying their eggs in anothers nest.
  • It was highly undesirable to be considered a
  • All of the community would find out about it and
    it was considered a public humiliation.
  • Cuckolds were often described as having horns a
    hangover from the days when a cuckold was forced
    to parade around his town wearing antlers as a
    sign of his wifes infidelity.

  • Jealousy was viewed as something irrational and
    linked to the deadly sin of envy.
  • It was viewed as a sudden infection against which
    there was no prevention or cure.
  • It was thought of as eroding trust and it
    dissolved the bonds holding together marriages,
    families and social frameworks.
  • Being jealous could let in evil and chaos and it
    was a state greatly feared by Shakespeares

  • On the following slide are some lines spoken by,
    or about, various characters in the play
    consider what you think each quotation reveals
    about the person speaking/being spoken about and
    what they are like as a character.

  • Iago - describing Othello loving his own pride
    and purposes
  • Iago - speaking about his relationship with
    Othello I follow him to serve my turn upon him
  • Iago - speaking about himself I am not what I
  • Iago - speaking about Othello The state cannot
    with safety cast him for hes embarked with such
    loud reason to the Cyprus wars
  • Othello - speaking about himself My parts, my
    title and my perfect soul shall manifest me
  • Othello - about Iago A man he is of honesty and
  • Othello to an angry Brabantio Hold your
    hands, were it my cue to fight , I should have
    known it.

Jealousy and Deception
  • Do you consider yourself to be a jealous person?
  • Have you ever deceived anyone? Why?
  • Is jealously acceptable in a relationship?
  • Is it ever okay to knowingly deceive someone?

Quotations on Jealousy Do you agree?
  • Love sees sharply, hatred sees even more sharp,
    but Jealousy sees the sharpest for it is love and
    hate at the same time
  •       Jealousy is nothing more than a fear of
  • In jealousy there is more of self-love than
  • A competent and self-confident person is
    incapable of jealousy in anything. Jealousy is
    invariably a symptom of neurotic insecurity.
  • Jealousy is a disease, love is a healthy
    condition. The immature mind often mistakes one
    for the other, or assumes that the greater the
    love, the greater the jealousy -- in fact,
    they're almost incompatible one emotion hardly
    leaves room for the other. Both at once can
    produce unbearable turmoil...

Quotations on Deception Do you agree?
  • We are never deceived we deceive ourselves.
  • Deception is a cruel act... It often has many
    players on different stages that corrode the
  • 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

Todays society - TASK
  • Think about the cultural rules that you live by.
  • Look at the questions opposite and discuss/make
  • What rules dictate the behaviour of young men and
    women in relationships today?
  • What are the things nice girls just dont do?
  • What are the things nice boys just dont do?
  • What do you think the consequences are of
    breaking these rules?
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