Othello Critical opinions

  • Created by: MeganSB3
  • Created on: 05-04-22 11:38
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  • Othello Critics
    • Bradley
      • "Othello is a man of mystery, exoticism and intense feeling, trustful, open, passionate but self-controlled"
      • Bradley argued that the newness of his marriage makes his jealousy credible
      • Believes that Othello never falls completely and suggested that at the end of the play we feel "admiration and love" for the hero"
      • "The deed Othello is bound to do is not murder, but a sacrifice. He is to save Desdemona from herself, not in hate but in honour; in honour, and also in love.”
    • T. S. Elliot
      • accuses Othello of self-dramatisation ['Shakespeare and the Stoicism of Seneca', 1927]
      • Focusing on the last Othello speech, Eliot believes that "the Moor is guilty of trying to cheer himself up as he attempts to evade reality"
      • "Terrible exposure of human weakness"
    • F. R. Leavis
      • Argues that  Othello was responsible for his own downfall: Iago's role was "subordinate and merely ancillary" ['Diabolic Intellect and the Noble Hero', 1952]
      • Claims that Othello has a propensity to jealousy and possesses a weak character
        • "the stuff of which he is made begins at once to deteriorate and show itself unfit [in marriage]"
    • Hazlitt
      • view of the villain has been extended so that Iago is no considered an example of the typical stage machiavel who "personifies rationality, self-interest, hypocrisy, cunning, expediency"
    • Leah Scragg
      • Iago "is an amoral artist who seeks to fashion a world in his own image"
    • Honigmann
      • Iago has 'ambition, the aspiring spirit, the intellectual activity' which 'prompts him to overleap those moral fences'
        • Iago 'has neither felt nor understood the spiritual impulses that bind ordinary human beings together, loyalty, friendship, respect, compassion - in a word, love'
    • Ania Loomba
      • 'Othello is a victim of racial beliefs precisely because he is an agent of misogynist ones'
    • Daniel Wright
      • 'Iago's racist incentive is spawned by the disappointment he suffers when Othello advances Cassio'
    • Carol Phillips
      • There is more pressure on Othello to fit into society to keep under the radar. Due to his race and his differences, he has to try harder to compensate and be accepted.
    • Nicole Smith
      • 'Race is the otherness that separates Othello'
    • Marilyn French
      • 'In spite of her masculine assertiveness in choosing her own husband, Desdemona accepts her culture's dictum, that she must be obedient to males and is self denying in the extreme when she dies'
    • Valerie Wayne
      • "It [handkerchief] is an emblem of Desdemona’s body that does not circulate because her body is not supposed to circulate: the regulated passage of the handkerchief is along family lines, not elsewhere."
    • Shapiro
      • Shakespeare wrote his female parts as a response to the men he had available to play them and their particular characteristics
    • Amy Kenny [from her PhD thesis for Uni of Sussex
      • Othello exchanges vows of murder with Iago in a perverse marriage ceremony, igniting Othello’s fixation with bloodshed. Othello’s compulsion to spill Desdemona’s blood carries with it a sexual connotation, and acts as the retribution for his inability to command his wife, marriage and household.
      • Desdemona explicitly defines her role as a wife when she informs Othello, ‘Be as your fancies teach you: Whate’er you be, I am obedient’ (3.3.88-9). Her proclamation of deference to her husband demonstrates her adherence to society’s standards to be unwavering in her duties, regardless of his actions.65 She reiterates this resolute image of herself as a subservient wife during the willow scene, as she sings, ‘Let nobody blame him, his scorn I approve’ before realising that she has misremembered the words to the song
    • Rubina Mandokhail
      • "Desdemona is a strong and independent woman. She spoke for her herself, refused to be crushed under the feet of patriarchy. However, her position as a woman made her vulnerable. Though she asserted her individual personality but under the impact of a male dominant society she could not exercise her freedom."
    • Matt Simpson
      • "We have to acknowledge the fact that wives are required to be obedient to understand Emilia's handing over of the handkerchief"


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