Guide Prepared by Michael J. Cummings...©
This page has been revised,
enlarged, and moved to
Written: Probably between 1602 and 1604.
Performance: Probably November 1, 1604, before King James I at Whitehall
Printing: 1622 in a quarto edition; 1623 as part of the First Folio,
the first authorized collection of Shakespeare's plays..The First Folio
version omits oaths and curses that appeared in the quarto edition in compliance
with a law passed by Parliament that forbade blasphemous language in stage
probable main source for Othello, Moor of Venice is.Ecatommiti,
called Hecatommithi), published in Venice in 1566 and written by
Giovanni Battista Giraldi (1504-1573), also known as Cinthio.
means One Hundred Tales.
is a stage play in the form of a tragedy in which a good man falls to ruin
after an evil man inflames him with jealousy.
takes place in Venice (in northern Italy) and Cyprus (an island in the
eastern Mediterranean about forty miles south of present-day Turkey). The
time is between 1489 and 1571. It is interesting to note that Venice is
the setting for both major Shakespeare plays dealing in part with racial
prejudice, Othello and The Merchant of Venice.
one of the world’s leading sea powers, Venice was the center of commercialism
and materialism and, therefore, corruption and conflict arising from avarice,
social status, and fierce competition. Cyprus–as a strategically located
island which yielded substantial harvests of olives, grapes and various
grains–was much prized throughout its history. Assyrians, Greeks, Egyptians,
Romans, and Byzantines all fought over and occupied it. England’s King
Richard I, the Lion-Hearted, conquered Cyprus in 1191 but later ceded it
to the French. Venice seized the island in 1489 and in 1571 the Ottoman
Turks brought Cyprus under its control.
Foils of Othello:
Michael Cassio, Iago
Black Moor who is the greatest army general in Venice. He is intelligent,
courageous, and honorable. His marriage to beautiful Desdemona, the daughter
of a prominent Venetian, provokes racial slurs against him. But he carries
on with nobility and dignity as he leads an army against Turks on Cyprus.
His dedication to duty is eclipsed only by his dedication to Desdemona,
who follows him to Cyprus. So passionately does he love her that he cannot
endure the thought of another man even looking at her. And therein lies
his Achilles' heel, jealousy.
Military officer who schemes against Othello because the Moor did not promote
him. He is evil through and through, taking great pleasure in bringing
down the great Othello.
Daughter of Brabantio, wife of Othello, and victim of Iago's machinations
and Othello's jealousy. She is the noblest and most unselfish character
in the play.
Cassio: Othello's lieutenant, who is manipulated by Iago. Cassio is
a hinge on which the play turns. On the one hand, it is his promotion that
arouses Iago's jealously. On the other, it is his alleged (but nonexistent)
love affair with Desdemona that arouses Othello's jealousy.
of Venice: Ruler who finds in favor of Othello when Desdemona's father
attacks Othello's character.
Senator and father of Desdemona. A bigot whose racism is inflamed by Iago,
he despises Othello.
Senator, Second Senator
Brabantio's kinsman, who bears a message from the duke recalling Othello
Venetian gentleman and former suitor of Desdemona. He is manipulated by
Othello's predecessor in the government of Cyprus.
Servant to Othello.
Wife of Iago. She is blind to his evil until she discovers that it was
he who plotted against Othello and Desdemona.
Characters: Sailor, messenger, herald, officers, gentlemen, musicians,
Michael J. Cummings...©
a black Moor, is a general in the service of Venice. Because he has conquered
the Turks, the Venetians esteem him highly as a military leader. Iago,
Othello’s ensign, aspires to rise in the ranks. But when Othello promotes
the Florentine Michael Cassio to the position of personal lieutenant, Iago
smolders with deadly anger for being passed over. Immediately he begins
a campaign to poison Venice against Othello. On a Venetian street, Iago
tells the gullible Roderigo, a gentleman of the city, that Cassio is untested
in battle and that his soldierly abilities consist of “mere prattle, without
practise” (1. 1. 28). In other words, Cassio is all talk, no action. Iago
says that he himself, on the other hand, has proved his military prowess
in battles at Rhodes, Cyprus, and elsewhere against Christian and heathen
alike. Apparently, he says, Othello promotes his men on the merits of their
political and personal connections, not on their soldierly skills. The
goal of Iago’s plot against the highly respected Moor is not only to gain
revenge; it is also to do what he most enjoys: evil.
Othello elopes with Desdemona, daughter of Senator Brabantio, Iago realizes
he has the perfect opening to get back at Othello. He enlists Roderigo,
a former suitor of Desdemona, to awaken Desdemona’s father late at night.
Then Iago, using crude racist metaphors, inflames Brabantio against Othello:
shame, put on your gown;
Brabantio complains to the Duke of Venice, claiming Othello used spells
and charms to win Desdemona's favor. How else could a vile black man have
won her favor?
heart is burst, you have lost half your soul;
now, now, very now, an old black ram1
the snorting citizens with the bell,
else the devil will make a grandsire of you:
I say. (1. 1. 92-98)
a fleet of Turks threatens Cyprus, the Venetian Senate decides to send
Othello to Cyprus to defend it and become the new governor. During the
senate meeting, the duke listens to Brabantio's charges against Othello.
But after hearing Othello speak of his love for Desdemona, the duke finds
in favor of Othello, and Brabantio relinquishes his daughter to the Moor.
She decides to follow him to Cypress. Unaware that Iago was behind Brabantio's
earlier protests against the elopement, Othello orders Iago to accompany
his wife. Roderigo goes along at the urging of Iago, who tells Roderigo
that Desdemona will eventually tire of Othello. However, Iago also tells
Roderigo they must first act to discredit Cassio to prevent Desdemona from
taking up with him.
a raging storm devastates the Turkish fleet, upending its attack, although
the ships from Venice arrive safely at Cyprus. A celebration follows.
the evening of the first night in Cyprus, Iago–implementing his plan to
discredit Cassio–gets Cassio drunk, then has Roderigo start an argument
with him. Montano, the outgoing governor of Cyprus, intervenes, and Cassio
Othello arrives at the scene of the commotion, he asks: “Honest Iago, that
look'st dead with grieving / Speak, who began this?” (2. 3. 135-136). Playing
the innocent, Iago replies: “I had rather have this tongue cut from my
mouth / Than it should do offense to Michael Cassio” (2. 3. 181-182). Having
duly established himself as an unbiased onlooker, he then says, ''Yet,
I persuade myself, to speak the truth. . .” (3. 1. 183). After Iago recounts
for Othello what happened during the fray, implicating Cassio, Othello
tells Cassio that he will never more serve as the Moor’s officer. Lovely
Desdemona appears and inquires about the disturbance. Othello tells her
all is well, and they go off to bed. Montano is led away for treatment
of his injury. Cassio, now alone with Iago, says he regrets his behavior.
Iago tells him he can yet regain favor with Othello by having Desdemona
intercede on his behalf.
Cassio presents his case to Othello’s wife, she agrees to speak with her
husband on Cassio’s behalf. When she does so in an innocent attempt to
be helpful, she arouses Othello’s jealousy. After all, Cassio is far younger
than Othello–and terribly handsome. Is it not reasonable to believe that
Desdemona has something going with Cassio?
Iago’s wife Emilia has found a handkerchief dropped by Desdemona. Othello
had given it to his wife as a gift. When Emilia shows it to Iago, he sees
an opportunity to advance his scheme and snatches it away, saying he has
use for it. Iago then plants the handkerchief in Cassio’s room and tells
Othello that Cassio has come into possession of it. When Othello asks his
wife for the handkerchief and she cannot produce it, he tells her that
it was a valued heirloom given to his mother by an Egyptian woman. He says
his mother, in turn, gave the handkerchief to him as she lay dying, requesting
that he give it to his future wife.
lose ’t or give ’t away were such perdition / As nothing else could match”
(3. 4. 69-70), Othello says. When he further presses Desdemona to produce
the handkerchief and she cannot, he becomes convinced that she gave it
to Cassio and has been having affair with him. Othello then tells
Iago he plans to poison Desdemona, but Iago advises him to “strangle her
in her bed, even the bed she hath contaminated (4. 1. 182). As for
Cassio, Iago says, “[L]et me be his undertaker” (4. 1. 184).
from the Duke of Venice arrive with Lodovico, recalling Othello to Venice
and naming Cassio the new governor of Cyprus. Kind-hearted Desdemona praises
Cassio. For this seemingly untoward gesture, Othello strikes and berates
her. To further his plan, Iago again uses the hapless Roderigo, persuading
him to kill Cassio for him. On a dark street Roderigo thrusts at Cassio
but fails to kill him. Cassio in turn wounds Roderigo. Iago, darting by
unseen, wounds Cassio in the leg.
arrives to observe from a distance. Believing Iago has been good to his
word, that he has killed Cassio, the Moor goes back to the castle for the
awful task of executing his wife. As others are drawn to the scene of the
fray between Roderigo and Cassio, Iago returns with a lantern as if he
is just discovering the melee. At an opportune moment he steals aside and
finishes off Roderigo with a dagger thrust. Cassio is taken away for treatment.
still in love with his wife, kisses her awake, asks her to prepare her
soul for death, and–after an exchange of accusations and denials–smothers
her with a pillow. As Desdemona lies dying, Emilia arrives to report the
death of Roderigo. Desdemona cries out, “A guiltless death I die” (5. 2.
149), then breathes her last. Othello reveals that he killed his wife because
she was having an affair with Cassio. Iago, he says, can verify her infidelity.
Emilia, shocked, says Desdemona was always “heavenly true” (5. 2. 165)
to Othello. If Iago reported otherwise, she says, he is a liar.
calls for help, and Montano, Iago, and others respond. Emilia immediately
impugns Iago: “You told a lie, an odious damned lie; / Upon my soul, a
lie, a wicked lie” (5. 2. 215-216). Othello, still convinced of Desdemona’s
guilt, brings up the matter of the handkerchief, saying Desdemona
gave it to Cassio, as Iago can attest. Emilia then discloses that she found
the handkerchief and gave it to her husband at his insistence. At long
last, Iago’s whole sordid plot unravels.
Othello lunges at him, Iago stabs his wife and runs off. Montano and others
pursue him. Emilia dies and Montano returns. With him are Lodovico, Cassio
(carried on a chair), and Iago (held as a prisoner). Othello strikes at
Iago with a sword and wounds him. When Cassio declares that he never wronged
Othello, the Moor says he believes him and asks his pardon. Lodovico presents
letters found in Roderigo’s pocket that disclose further details of Iago’s
with self-recrimination, Othello stabs himself, falls on the bed, and dies.
Iago is held for punishment. “The time, the place, the torture” (5. 2.
427), Lodovico says, are up to the new governor of Cyprus, Cassio.
has the power to destroy. It destroys both Iago (jealous that Michael
Cassio has received an appointment over him) and Othello (jealous that
his wife may love Cassio).
is often skin deep. Racial prejudice is a crucial issue in the play,
for it isolates Othello, making him feel like a defective and an outcast.
As such, he wonders whether he is worthy of Desdemona–and whether she has
turned her attentions toward a handsome white man, Cassio, as Iago maintains.
Brabantio and Iago are the most bigoted characters. Brabantio is horrified
that his daughter has eloped with a Moor who will give him dark-skinned
children; Iago cannot brook the fact that he must take orders from a black.
in Macbeth, all things are not what they seem.
At the beginning, Othello appears strong and self-disciplined, and Iago
presents himself as loyal and trustworthy. Later, Othello is revealed as
a victim of his emotions, and Iago as a disloyal and evil man.
love sometimes requires courage. Desdemona marries Othello knowing
well that his color, his cultural background, and his advanced age will
arouse controversy. But she never wavers in her love for him, even when
her own father–a prominent Venetian–speaks out against the Moor; she never
allows the bigotry of others to affect her.
things happen to good people. Desdemona is pure and innocent, the ideal
wife. Othello is noble, loving, and accomplished, the ideal husband. But
he murders Desdemona, then kills himself. In the real world, bad things
happen to good people. Chance, character flaws, and the presence of evil–in
this case, Iago–often militate against happy endings.
Study Guide in Book Form
a Guide to the Complete Works is now available in hardback and paperback.
It incorporates virtually all of the information on this web site, including
plot summaries of all the plays. It also gives dates and sources of each
play, describes the setting and characters, discusses imagery, identifies
themes, points out the climax, and provides historical background wherever
necessary. In addition, it discusses and analyzes the sonnets, as well
as other poems written by Shakespeare.
the many additional features of the book are essays, glossaries, explanations
of versification and iambic pentameter, and a section on the Globe Theatre.
purchase of this book will help maintain this web site as a free resource
for teachers and students. You can order the book directly from the publisher's
web site or from Amazon.com.
Racism in Othello
the vilest characters in all of Shakespeare is Iago. Audiences attending
Othello begin learning the extent of his villainy in the opening scene
of the play, when Iago uses racism as a spark to inflame Desdemona’s father,
Senator Brabantio, against Othello. Here is the scene:
Iago and Roderigo raise a clamor outside Brabantio’s house late one evening,
the senator awakens and comes to a window. Iago then uses vulgar animal
imagery to slur Othello, telling Brabantio that the black Moor has seized
his greatest treasure, his daughter, and at that very moment is defiling
sir, you’re robb’d; for shame, put on your gown;
When Brabantio reacts with incredulity,
Iago replies with a metaphor that this time compares Othello to a horse:
Your heart is burst, you
have lost half your soul;
Even now, now, very now,
an old black ram
your white ewe6.
Awake the snorting citizens
with the bell,
Or else the devil will make
a grandsire of you. (1. 1. 92-97)
’Zounds! sir, you
are one of those that will not serve God if the devil bid you. Because
we come to do you service and you think we are ruffians, you’ll have your
daughter covered with a Barbary horse; you’ll have your nephews7
neigh to you; you’ll have coursers for cousins and gennets8
(1. 1. 119).......Roderigo,
whom Iago uses as a cat’s-paw, supports Iago’s story. Iago then says, “I
am one, sir, that comes to tell you, your daughter and the Moor are now
making the beast with two backs” (1. 1. 121). Roderigo adds that Desdemona
is indeed in the “gross clasps of a lascivious Moor” (1. 1. 131). Brabantio,
now convinced of the truth of the story, tells Roderigo to summon help.
on a street in another location, Iago meets with Othello to inflame him
against Brabantio. The latter had denounced Othello, Iago says, with “scurvy
and provoking terms” (1. 2. 10) after hearing of his and Desdemona’s elopement.
Iago also says that
he will divorce you,
and by, Brabantio and others appear. The senator, after denouncing Othello
for taking Desdemona to his “sooty bosom” (1. 2. 87), accuses the Moor
of having used “foul charms” (1. 2. 90) and “drugs or minerals” to weaken
Or put upon you what restraint
The law–with all his might
to enforce it on–
Will give him cable. (1.
matter becomes an issue in the Venetian council chamber, where the Duke
and other senators are preparing for war against the Turks. After Othello
speaks eloquently of his love for Desdemona and she speaks on his behalf,
the Duke exonerates Othello. But in doing so, the Duke obliquely denigrates
Othello because of his race–apparently unintentionally, in a Freudian slip–telling
Brabantio, “Your son-in-law is more fair than black” (1. 3. 311), implying
that fairness is superior to blackness. Brabantio reluctantly accepts the
lost a battle, Iago continues to plot to win the war, still using racism
as one of his weapons. Consider that in referring to Othello, he sometimes
inserts the word black to remind listeners that the Moor is different,
a man apart, a man to be isolated. For example, after referring to Othello
in Act 1 as a “black ram,” he tells Michael Cassio in Act 2, Scene 2, “Come,
lieutenant, I have a stoup of wine, and here without are a brace of Cyprus
gallants that would fain have a measure to the health of black Othello”
is rich in memorable figures of speech, several of which have become part
of our language. Although the characters speak in prose as well as verse,
the imagery remains vivid throughout the play. Among the most frequently
quoted passages are the following:
But I will wear my heart
upon my sleeve
For daws to peck
at. (1. 1. 67-68)
In a metaphor comparing his heart
to bird food, Iago comments on what he would do if he were like other men
who make no attempt to hide their true feelings. Iago, of course, prides
himself on his ability to give false impressions.
I will a round unvarnish’d
tale deliver. (1. 3. 104)
Othello defends himself against
accusations that he abducted Desdmona, saying he will tell the whole truth
(round unvarnish’d tale).
To mourn a mischief that
is past and gone
Is the next way to draw
new mischief on. (1. 3. 226-227)
Using alliteration (mourn a mischief),
the Duke of Venice advises Brabantio not to fret over a lost cause.
The robb’d that smiles steals
something from the thief. (1. 3. 230)
After the Duke of Venice exonerates
Othello before the council of Venice, he advises Brabantio in this paradox
to accept the verdict in good humor rather to protest it with petty grumbling.
Virtue! a fig! (1. 3. 331)
In this metaphor, Iago belittles
The food that to him now
is as luscious as locusts, shall be to him shortly as bitter as coloquintida.
(1. 3. 333)
In a metaphor, Iago compares current
events to food; in a simile, he compares the taste of the food to the delicious
taste of locusts. He predicts that the sweetness of Othello’s life will
soon turn bitter. (Coloquintida is an alternate name for colocynth, a vine
that bears a tart fruit resembling a lemon.)
Reputation is an idle and
most false imposition; oft got without merit, and lost without deserving.
(2. 3. 226)
Iago tells Cassio that reputation
is not as important as the latter thinks it.
How poor are they that have
What wound did ever heal
but by degrees? (2. 3. 274-275)
In a metaphor comparing emotional
anguish to an injury to the body, Iago scolds Roderigo for complaining
when his plans go awry.
O! beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-ey’d monster
which doth mock
The meat it feeds on. (3.
In this metaphor, Iago tells Othello
that jealousy is monstrous. Iago’s observation is also an example of irony,
in that Iago is attempting to inflame Othello with jealousy and in that
Iago himself suffers from jealousy aimed at Michael Cassio.
Poor and content is rich,
and rich enough. (3. 3. 198)
Iago consoles (falsely) Othello
with a paradox after the latter’s suspicions against Desdemona are aroused.
Speak of me as I am; nothing
Nor set down aught in malice:
then, must you speak
Of one that lov’d not wisely
but too well. (5. 2. 398-400)
Before stabbing himself, Othello
explains that he loved Desdemona deeply–but not wisely. Alliteration (wisely,
well) helps make Line 400 memorable.
Prejudice, the Ultimate Irony
of analysis and criticism of this play have focused on Othello as the victim
of prejudice. Ironically, though, it is Othello who commits the most heinous
act of prejudice in the play–forejudging his innocent wife as, in
his own words, a “cunning whore” (4. 2. 105) who must pay for her transgression
with her life. His mulish refusal to consider confuting evidence and his
summary execution of his wife demonstrate that prejudice is an equal-opportunity
plays an important role in Othello. For example, Othello, a good
man, commits a heinous crime. Iago, an evil man, masquerades as an honorable
man. In fact, in one of the better known passages in the play, Iago extols
name in man and woman, dear my lord,
the immediate jewel of their souls:
steals my purse steals trash . . .
he that filches from me my good name
me of that which not enriches him
makes me poor indeed. (3. 3. 180-185)
it is the deceitful Iago who, in a pretense to make himself seem a friend
to Othello, speaks of the danger of jealousy:
beware, my lord, of jealousy;
is the green-ey’d monster which doth mock
meat it feeds on. . . . . (3. 3. 191-193)
often use "planted evidence" as a ploy to impugn an innocent character
and thereby thicken the plot. Knives, guns, caches of jewels, umbrellas,
and cigarette lighters have all been used by writers to suggest that an
innocent character is guilty. The 19th Century playwright Oscar Wilde often
resorted to such ploys to complicate his plots. One of his plays, Lady
Windermere's Fan, relies heavily on seemingly incriminating evidence--a
fan and a handwritten letter--to implicate an innocent woman. What was
the planted evidence in Othello that implicated Desdemona? Describe
this evidence and explain its role in convincing Othello that his wife
climax of a play or another literary work, such as a short story or a novel,
can be defined as (1) the turning point at which the conflict begins to
resolve itself for better or worse, or as (2) the final and most exciting
event in a series of events. The climax of Othello, according to
the first definition, occurs in the third scene of Act III, when Othello
becomes convinced that Desdemona has been unfaithful and resolves to retaliate
against her. According to the second definition, the climax occurs when
Othello kills Desdemona and discovers the horrible mistake he has made.
Cassio is a hinge on which the play turns. On the one hand, it was his
promotion that aroused Iago's jealousy. On the other, it was his alleged
(but nonexistent) love affair with Desdemona that aroused Othello's jealousy.
this play, Othello apparently strangles Desdemona or smothers her with
a pillow. (The stage directions say he "stifles" Desdemona.) Murder by
pillow or strangulation was only one of a remarkable variety of killing
tools and methods Shakespeare used to send his characters to the beyond.
In Antony and Cleopatra, Cleopatra commits suicide via the bite
of an asp. In Richard III, Clarence is drowned in a barrel of wine.
In Macbeth, hired assassins inflict "twenty trenched gashes" upon
Banquo's head. In Cymbeline, Guiderius decapitates Clotan. In Titus
Andronicus, throats are slit and Aaron the Moor is buried up to his
chest, then starved. In Hamlet, Claudius murders his predecessor
by pouring poison into his ear. In King John, a monk poisons the
monarch in the conventional, oral way. The latter murder method has been
a favorite of assassins since ancient times. It is said that the custom
of garnishing food with parsley originated in the time of the Caesars.
Parsley was a secret sign from a friend in the kitchen that food was uncontaminated.
Gardner observes, "Othello is like a hero of the ancient world in that
he is not a man like us, but a man recognized as extraordinary. He seems
born to do great deeds and live in legend. He has the obvious heroic qualities
of courage and strength, and no actor can attempt the role who is not physically
impressive. He has the heroic capacity for passion. But the thing which
most sets him apart is his solitariness. He is a stranger, a man of alien
race, without ties of nature or natural duties. His value is not in what
the world thinks of him, although the world rates him highly, and does
not derive in any way from his station. It is inherent. He is, in a sense,
a self-made man, the product of a certain kind of life which he has chosen
to lead...."--Gardner, Hellen. Quoted in Bender, David, publisher.
on the Tragedies of William Shakespeare. San Diego: Greenhaven, 1996
Shakespeare Visit Italy?
works suggest that he might have visited? Consider that more than a dozen
of his plays--includingThe Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet, All's
Well That Ends Well, Othello,
Coriolanus, Julius Caesar, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Taming of the
Shrew, Much Ado About Nothing, and
Winter's Tale all have some or all of their scenes set in Italy. Consider,
too, that plays not set in Italy are often well populated with people having
Italian names. For example, although The Comedy of Errors
takes place in Ephesus, Turkey, the names of many of the characters end
with the Italian ''o'' or ''a'':--Angelo, Dromio, Adriana, Luciana.
In Hamlet's Denmark, we find characters named Marcellus, Bernardo
and Francisco. Practically all of the characters in
Athens bear the names of ancient Romans--Lucullus, Flavius, Flaminius,
Lucius, Sempronius, Servillius, Titus, Hortensius. Of course, it is
quite possible that Shakespeare visited Italy only in his imagination..
Was a Moor?
Moor was a Muslim of mixed Arab and Berber descent. Berbers were North
African natives who eventually accepted Arab customs and Islam after Arabs
invaded North Africa in the Seventh Century A.D. The term has been used
to refer in general to Muslims of North Africa and to Muslim conquerors
of Spain. The word Moor derives from a Latin word, Mauri,
used to name the residents of the ancient Roman province of Mauritania
in North Africa. To refer to Othello as a "black Moor" is not to commit
a redundancy, for there are white Moors as well as black Moors, the latter
mostly of Sudanese origin.
in Other Shakespeare Plays
Andronicus Shakespeare introduces an evil Moor named Aaron who displays
goodness near the end when he pleads for his child's life.
introduces an upright and righteous Moor who displays evil near the end
when he suspects his wife of infidelity and kills her.
Moor also appears in The Merchant of Venice. He is the Prince of
Morocco, a suitor for the hand of Portia. Even before he arrives to make
his bid for her, Portia, a racist snob, says, "[I]f he have . . .
the complexion of a devil, I had rather he should shrive me than wive me."
Questions and Essay Topics
protests the marriage of his daughter, Desdemona, to Othello, claiming
Othello used "spells and medicines" to dull her senses so that she would
marry "against all rules of nature." Do you think the real reason for Brabantio's
protest is the color of Othello's skin? Use passages from the play to support
the attitude of Europeans toward blacks during Shakespeare's time?
ways are Othello and Desdemona similar to Romeo and Juliet? In what ways
are they dissimilar?
believe Iago despises Othello because Othello is black? (4) Would you marry
a person of opposite color? Explain your answer.
you believe was Shakespeare's attitude toward blacks?
blacks live in London during Shakespeare's time?
was such a great general, a man who could read the mind of his enemy, why
was he so easily deceived by Iago?
an essay explaining why Othello promoted Michael Cassio as his personal
lieutenant instead of Iago. The play does not address this question, and
most scholars ignore it because there is virtually no evidence (prior to
the appointment) to support a viewpoint. Using your imagination and what
you know about Cassio and Iago from your reading of the play, venture an
opinion, then support it with passages from the play.
us tend to root for villains--bank robbers on the lam, prison inmates after
an escape, mad scientists coaxing a monster to life, and miscreants like
Iago. Write an essay explaining why we root for villains, an essay that
probes the dark side of the human psyche to find sparks from a primeval
fire that has enkindled malevolent voyeurism in all of us.
using your imagination, write an essay that tells what Iago was like as
1. Old black ram: Othello.
2. Tupping: Copulating with
(used in reference to sheep).
3. Ewe: Desdemona.
4. ’Zounds: Corruption of
by his wounds, referring to the wounds of Christ (used as a mild oath),
5. See No. 2.
6. See No. 3.
7. Nephews: Grandsons.
8. Gennets: Jennets, female
9. Germans: Relatives.
on DVD (or VHS)
and Cleopatra (1974)
Nunn, John Schoffield
Johnson, Janet Suzman
You Like It (2010)
Laskey, Naomi Frederick
You Like It (1937)
Ainley, Felix Aylmer
Comedy of Errors
Howard, Irene Worth
Bloom, Richard Johnson, Helen Mirren
Box: The Comedies
Box: The Histories
Box: The Tragedies
Olivier, Jean Simmons
Gibson, Glenn Close
||David Tennant, Patrick Stewart,
Gielgud, Bill Colleran
Burton, Hume Cronyn
Scott, Eric Simonson
Scott, Blair Brown
Branaugh, Derek Jacobi
Banks, Felix Aylmer
VI Part I
Benson, Trevor Peacock
VI Part II
VI Part III
Stride, Claire Bloom, Julian Glover
Pasco, Keith Michell
Brando, James Mason
Heston, Jason Robards
Cusack, Susan Engel
Mower, Ann Lynn
Olivier, Colin Blakely
Labour's Lost (2000)
Branagh, Alicia Silverstone
McKellen, Judy Dench
Merchant of Venice
Mitchell, Gemma Jones
Merchant of Venice (2001)
Hunt, Trevor Nunn
Bamber, Peter De Jersey
Merchant of Venice (1973)
Olivier, Joan Plowright
Merry Wives of Windsor (1970)
Charles, Gloria Grahame
Night's Dream (1996)
Duncan, Alex Jennings
Midsummer Night's Dream (1999)
Kline, Michelle Pfeiffer
Ado About Nothing (1993)
Ado About Nothing (1973)
Waterston, F. Murray Abraham
Haines, John Kaki
McKellen, Michael Grandage
Olivier, Frank Finlay
MacLean, Bob Hoskins, Jenny Agutter
(1985) Japanese Version of King Lear
Nakadai, Akira Terao
Osian, Kadina de Elejalde
Calmettes, James Keane
Gemp, Frederick Warde
III - Criterion Collection (1956)
Olivier, Ralph Richardson
McKellen, Annette Bening
Cook, Brian Protheroe, Michael Byrne
and Juliet (1968)
Whiting, Olivia Hussey
and Juliet (1996)
DiCaprio, Claire Danes
and Juliet (1976)
Neame, Ann Hasson
Gielgud, Rebecca Saire, Patrick Ryecart
Taming of the Shrew
Taylor, Richard Burton
Taming of the Shrew
Birk, Earl Boen, Ron Boussom
Taming of The Shrew
Seales, Karen Austin
Cassavetes, Gena Rowlands
Fonda, John Glover, Harold Perrineau,
of Blood (1961) Macbeth in Japan
Mifune, Isuzu Yamada
Two Gentlemen of Verona
Hudson, Joanne Pearce
Winter's Tale (2005)