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OTHELLO Some notes for MYE Part Duo – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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  • Some notes for MYEPart Duo

  • Revision of Concepts

Main concepts
  • Tragedy the tragic hero and key assumptions
  • Virtue
  • The Malcontent
  • Pride, Envy and Jealousy
  • Subversion of Order
  • Transgression
  • Language imagery
  • Developments to expect

  • Key elements of classic Greek tragedy
  • Hero of noble birth and virtuous with admirable
  • Setting a single place and time where all
    action is focused
  • Fate intervenes in form of unexpected events
    and outcomes
  • Flaw usually in the heroic character, an
    imperfection which is identifiably human

Tragedy how does Othello measure up?
  • Hero The Moor, Othello is not of noble birth
    but is virtuous Valiant Othello I, iii, 49.
    He has great power in terms of reason and his
    ability to lead I am glad ont tis a worthy
    governor II, i, 30
  • Setting essentially the setting for 4/5 of the
    play is Cyprus. Essentially, the action is
    compressed in terms of time to stretch across a
    single day (in Cyprus) following Othellos arrival

Tragedy how does Othello measure up?
  • Fate the most obvious role played by Fate is
    the storm that decimates the Turkish fleet. It
    also reappears (arguably) when Desdemona drops
    her handkerchief in Act III) in each case it
    seems that Iago is the primary beneficiary.
  • Flaw all tragic heroes should have some quality
    that allows them to make an inappropriate
    judgement such as rashness, a fiery temper etc.
    Here we see Othello out of his humour from Act
    III onwards

Is Othello a true tragedy?
  • Shakespeare has gone beyond conventional limits
    by choosing Othello as his hero. However, his
    language gains him status on the stage (see Act I
    scene iii, 128 170 and Act II scene i, 178 -
  • Events do not strictly fit the pattern of Time,
    Place and Action but there is a clear unity with
    no sub-plot to speak of.
  • Othellos flaw is tragic and human and enables
    the audience to feel empathy.

The Malcontent
  • Iagos villainy is based upon the concept of the
    malcontent. He is embittered by being passed
    over for promotion in Act I and then experiences
    further feelings of hatred beyond normal levels
    during the play.
  • Being a malcontent prevents him from seeing
    things at a moral level and therefore he cannot
    appreciate noble sentiments such as courtly love.

The Malcontent
  • We should bear in mind that the traditional view
    of the malcontent is a figure who brings about
    distasteful events but who eventually receives
    punishment. He is therefore a figure of moral
  • The malcontents progress through the play
    mirrors the dramatic structure

Pride, Envy and Jealousy
  • It is important to relate these qualities to
  • Othello initially associated with pride
  • My services which I have done the signiory,
  • Shall out-tongue his complaints. I, ii, 18-19
  • Iago is linked at first to envy
  • I know my price, I am worth no worse a place.
    I, i, 11
  • he, sir, had th election
  • And I of whom his eyes had seen the proof
  • must be leed and calmed
  • By debitor and creditor. I, I, 28-31

Pride, Envy and Jealousy
  • The emotion of jealousy first arises in a clear
    sense at the very end of Act II scene i with
    Iagos soliloquy and then again at the end of the
  • Myself the while to draw the Moor apart,
  • And bring him jump when he may Cassio find
  • Soliciting his wife. II, iii, 375-377
  • It is made more explicit in Act III
  • Ironically, the first mention of the word comes
    from Iago himself
  • I confess it is my natures plague
  • To spy into abuses, and oft my jealousy
  • Shapes faults that are not that your wisdom,
  • From one that so imperfectly conceits,
  • Would take no notice III, iii, 146-150

Pride, Envy and Jealousy
  • The primary speech associated with jealousy is
  • beware my lord of jealousy
  • It is the green eyed monster which doth mock
  • The meat it feeds on. That cuckold lives in
  • who certain of his fate loves not his wronger,
  • But O, what damned minutes tells he oer
  • Who dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet fondly
  • III, iii, 163 169

  • By the close of Act III, the level of jealousy
    has risen to become blind jealousy
  • Emilia Is not this man jealous?
  • Des. I neer saw this before.
  • Sure, theres some wonder in this handkerchief

  • III, iv, 93-94

Subversion of order
  • The Great Chain of Being
  • As suggested previously, this is a medieval
    belief in a natural hierarchy. It is NOT
    something created by Shakespeare nor by the
    characters in Othello.
  • The clearest example of this in Shakespeares
    language is
  • Alas thrice-gentle Cassio!
  • My advocation is not now in tune
  • My lord is not my lord nor should I know him
  • III, iv, 116 118

Subversion of order
  • It is clear that Iago is the agent of subversion
    but it is important to note that he is also in a
    state of blind envy and jealousy
  • For I do suspect the lusty Moor
  • Hath leaped into my seat. The thought whereof
  • Doth like a poisonous mineral gnaw my inwards
  • And nothing can or shall content my soul
  • Till I am evened with him wife for wife
  • Or failing so, yet that I put the Moor
  • At least into a jealousy so strong that judgment
    cannot cure. II, I, 289-296

Subversion of order
  • It is important to remember that there is the
    dramatic subversion carried out by Iago and also
    there a subversion of order in character.
  • I am not what I am I, i, 65
  • Virtue? A fig. Tis in ourselves that we are
    thus or thus I, iii, 318-319
  • Reputation is an idle, and most false
    imposition oft got without merit, and lost
    without deserving. II, iii, 261-263
  • And whats he then that says I play the
    villain? II, iii, 326
  • My lord is not my lord nor should I know him,
  • Were he in favour as in humour altered. III,
    iv, 118-119

  • Key concept linked with natural order
  • To transgress is to go against the natural, moral
  • Obvious Iago transgresses his role in society
    as Ancient (honourable post)
  • Subtle Othello trangresses the social order of
    Venice, disrupts the life of a senator and
    marries outside his race

Language and Imagery
  • Students must be fully aware of the images of
  • Disease and sickness
  • Eating and consumption
  • Acting and role-playing
  • Art, charms and witchcraft
  • Mercantilism
  • In addition, you must be aware of the frequent
    references to honesty, virtue and reputation -
    the preoccupation with the place that an
    individual holds in society

Further Developments
  • Moving ahead, we should be aware in Act IV and V
    of developments in plot and character
  • Othellos increasing level of jealousy driving
    him out of his mind (see Act IV, scene i)
  • The dramatic conventions used to further Iagos
    plot (e.g. overheard conversations etc)
  • The continued development of Desdemona as an
  • The use of Roderigo and the increasing levels of
    violence that Iago is prepared to employ.
  • The development of the need for blood vengeance
    in Othello

Recall Model Paragraph
  • Introduction
  • This is Venice, proclaims Senator Brabantio. His
    words sub-textually carry the implication that he
    is proud to be a citizen of a civilized,
    well-governed state. Othello has entered this
    sophisticated European world of Venice as a
    relatively unsophisticated outsider. At the
    commencement of the play, we as an audience see
    him as a man valued and honoured by those who
    matter in Venice. He enjoys a position of rare
    privilege at the very centre of the ceremonial
    and active life of his adopted State. Yet for all
    that, paradoxically, Othello is perceived as an
    outsider, and what acceptance he has is assured
    only as long as he abides by its unwritten yet
    inflexible social conventions.

Recall Model Paragraph
  • The choice of imagery, clearly meant to cause
    deep offence, as well as the crude form it takes,
    likening Othello to an animal known for its
    primitive brain and primitive sexual instincts is
    clearly intended to not only dehumanize but
    greatly distance Othello from Venetian culture.
    The imagery implicitly by its pointed focus on
    Desdemona as a white ewe serves through the use
    of colour contrast to call attention to the
    unsuitability of any such union. However, there
    is the further toxic insinuation that she is
    corrupting and debasing herself given as Iago
    (for his own convenience) sees as her higher and
    purer humanity through entering a sexual
    relationship with the Moor. Linguistically, the
    choice of verb tupping (given that tup is
    another term for the male of sheep, reinforces
    the perceived animality of African sexualty, and
    its employed use in its present tense form is
    tupping presses upon us and reinforces the
    prejudicial perception that engaging in the sex
    act is a principal preoccupation taking
    precedence over other more important priorities.

Your Turn
For I do suspect the lusty Moor Hath leaped into
my seat. The thought whereof Doth like a
poisonous mineral gnaw my inwards And nothing
can or shall content my soul Till I am evened
with him wife for wife Or failing so, yet that I
put the Moor At least into a jealousy so strong
that judgment cannot cure. II, I, 289-296
  • Write a short analysis on the following extract,
    examining the dramatic presentation of Iago as a
  • Checklist
  • Topic Sentence
  • Identify technique
  • Analyse effects
  • Link to point
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