Othello: Themes and Key Quotes

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  • Othello: Themes and Key Quotes
    • Love
      • Changing perspective of love
      • Domestic tragedy
        • The relationship appears to have peaked, this suggests it's only downhill from here
          • 'If it were now to die, 'twere now to be most happy' (II.1)
      • Paternal love
        • 'Thou hast enchanted her' (I.1)
          • Brabantio cannot believe that Desdemona would break societal convention and choose to go off with an outsider
      • Self love
    • Jealousy
      • Iago's jealousy
        • The conflict in source of jealousy
          • Iago's justification for his actions changes throughout, shown through his soliloquies
            • At the beginning it appears to be professional jealousy of Cassio, 'nor the division of battle knows more than a spinster' (I.1)
              • Iago himself seems unsure of his reason for his jealousy, what effect does this have on us as an audience and our judgement of Iago as the tragedy progresses?
            • Later reveals alternative motive, 'The lusty moor hath leaped into my seat... nothing can content my soul till i am evened with him wife for wife' (II.1)
              • Iago himself seems unsure of his reason for his jealousy, what effect does this have on us as an audience and our judgement of Iago as the tragedy progresses?
      • Sexual jealousy
      • Othello and jealousy
        • Jealousy and madness
          • Othello isn't a jealous man by nature, it is Othello's willingness to trust Iago that ultimately leads to his jealous madeness
            • 'My life upon her faith' (I.3), at the beginning Othello has full trust in his wife
            • 'He foams at the mouth, and... breaks out to savage madness' (IV.1), upon falling into a fit of jealousy, Iago observes Othello's transformation
        • The source of jealousy
          • Is Othello jealous as a result of fear of losing love, or a fear of losing his own social stature
            • His passion in his anger suggests his fear of losing Desdemona, 'Damn her... the fair devil' (III.3)
            • His fear of losing his position is evident in his hyperbolic monologue, 'Farewell the tranquil mind... Othello's occupation gone!' (III.3)
    • Loyalty & betrayal
      • Iago's false loyalty
      • Dedemona's loyalty and her ultimate betrayal
        • Othello feels betrayed by Desdemona, as being cuckolded in the hegemonic Venetian society is the ultimate undermining
          • 'I will chop her into messes! Cuckold me?' (IV.1)
            • His anger here shows his concern with his appearance, considering his position as an outsider he is already insecure about his appearance, however this action would destroy any power Othello once had in this heavily appearance focused society
        • Desdemona remains loyal to her husband throughout the entire play, fulfilling her expected wifely duties
          • 'Let me go with him' (I.3)
            • At the beginning we see her break societal convention and speak out, as a woman and a wife, in order to present her passion for and loyalty to the moor
          • Talk about later in the play when her loyalty is the reason she dies
      • Othello's unfaltering loyalty to men
        • pg54
    • Obsession
      • Iago's obsession with revenge
      • Othello's obsession with honour and his appearance
        • Appears more concerned about the loss of honour than the loss of love
          • 'Farewell tranquil mind... Othello's occupation gone!' (III.3)
            • Othello implies here that without his occupation, he lacks inner tranquillity, and that it is instead his social stature that bring about his happiness
          • 'Farewell... glorious war!' (III.3), here Othello presents that his obsession for his duty outweighs his devotion to his wife, being more distraught at the thought of loosing his position than his wife's infidelity
          • Cassio validates this concern
            • 'Reputation, reputation, reputation... I have lost the immortal part of myself' (II.3)
              • This suggests that reputation and public appearance is an important part of the society
                • Therefore Othello's position as an outsider puts him at a disadvantage in this society, underlining his obsession with his reputation and his honour that he worked so hard to gain
        • His appearance is used as a derogatory reference
          • 'Her face, as fresh as Dian's image is now black and begrimed as mine own face' (III.3)
          • 'Old black ram is tupping your white ewe' (I.1)
            • Iago opens the play with this idea of Othello's barbaric and uncivilised nature, showing that he does not fit into Venetian society
      • Women and their husbands obsessions
    • Relationships
      • Othello & Desdemona
        • (I.3) - 'She'd come again and with greedy ear devour my discourse'
          • This suggests that Desdemona was leading this relationship, a scandalous affair at the time, using this semantic link of food to show her raw desire and passion for Othello
        • Desdemona's perceived mutual respect in the relationship, against societal norm, is what leads the relationship to doom
          • 'My captain's captain' (II.1)
          • 'I'll intermingle everything he does with Cassio's suit' (III.3)
            • Desdemona's confidence in the control she has over Othello is what ultimately leads to their downfall
      • Iago & Emilia
      • Cassio & Bianca
    • Revenge
      • How Iago's revenge drives the play
      • The dishonourable nature of revenge
      • How Othello's revenge degrades his charater

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