Othello - Othello




  • Noble - subverts the stereotypical ideas of a black man in Elizabethan era - they were depicted as demonic and barbaric but Oth is well spoken and likeable 'So please your grace, my ancient; A man he is of honest and trust'
  • Well liked by the noblemen of Venice aside from Brabantio - shows that Venetians were more accepting than the English audience 'DUKE:Valiant Othello, we must straight employ you Against the general enemy Ottoman.'
  • Loves Desdemona - treats her well at beginning of the play, though this changes by the end 'Come, Desdemona: I have but an hour Of love, of worldly matters and direction, To spend with thee: we must obey the time.'
  • Jealousy is his hamartia - by allowing Iago to manipulate him he causes his own downfall, loses the woman he loved (by smothering) and takes his own life 'I will chop her into messes: cuckold me!'
  • Voice at beginning is poetic and written in verse 'My parts, my title and my perfect soul Shall manifest me rightly.'
  • Sees the handkerchief as symbolic of love - relates it to his mother who is dead which gives a sense of familial ties ''Twould make her amiable and subdue my father Entirely to her love, but if she lost it Or made gift of it, my father's eye Should hold her loathed and his spirits should hunt After new fancies'
  • Referred to as 'the moor' - this was a term used to refer to black people at time - slur but most of the time it's not said with hatred apart from when Iago/Roderigo call him it 'IAGO:These Moors are changeable in their wills'
  • Short tempered - he doesn't talk to Des about what she's been accused of and believes Iago's lies 'This is a subtle whore, A closet lock and key of villanous secrets'
  • A general - this puts him in a position of power and again subverts the usual stereotypes of black men 'Cassio. The duke does greet you, general, And he requires your haste-post-haste appearance, Even on the instant.'
  • Well spoken/intelligent - he speaks with intent and speeches are always poetic and strong at beginning - his voice changes by end of play to compliment Iago's however, showing how Iago manipulates him 'Till now some nine moons wasted, they have used Their dearest action in the tented field, And little of this great world can I speak, More than pertains to feats of broil and battle, And therefore little shall I grace my cause In speaking for myself' vs 'Well, do it, and be brief; I will walk by: I would not kill thy unprepared spirit; No; heaven forfend! I would not kill thy soul.'
  • Slowly replicates Iago's behaviours and conforms to the stereotype of the barbaric moor, showing how ultimately he can't escape his predetermined characteristics in the play 'Heaven truly knows that thou art false as hell.' and '[Striking her] Devil!'
  • Gullible in his trust of Iago - believes he is honest throughout 'Honest Iago, My Desdemona must I leave to thee'
  • Subverts the norms of the Moorish character - in Shakespeare's other works Moors have been seen to be violent and despicable
  • Shows how jealousy can change even the most noble of men
  • Shows Iago's intelligence - Iago is able to completely manipulate a well liked, noble man to the point he becomes violent
  • Ends up playing to societal expectations of the Moor - 'England was increasingly hostile to foreigners - Loomba'
  • Represents good at beginning of play - Iago bad. Bad taints the good
  • Shows how love can lead to violent jealousy
  • Juxtaposes other violent Moorish characters in Shakespeare's play
  • Protagonist, though develops antagonistic qualities

Development (Growth & change)

Other information              

  • Voice changes from verse to prose as play progresses - showing that Oth is changing to match Iago
  • His love for Des is shaped in to something ugly and violent, and when he strikes her we see just how much he has changed
  • He commits suicide at end of play - this, following religious expectations, means he is going to hell - retribution for Des' death?
  • Iago causes his death - in fact he causes all deaths in play - two at his own hand and the other two by his words and manipulation
  • Grows steadily more unlikeable to the audience - bit of a gullible idiot
  • Cassio deserved better honestly
  • England was increasingly hostile to foreigners - Loomba
  • Women and blacks exist as other - Loomba
  • Othello and Desdemona have made a mockery of the principles of social, sexual and racial hierarchy - Ryan
  • The two main events of the play are a marriage and a murder - Cox
  • It is only Othello's jealousy, not Iago's hatred, that is the real tragedy - Greer
  • Othello is a sympathetic and noble character whose downfall is created by a being of pure evil - Bradley
  • Othello is responsible for his own downfall - Eliot
  • There is no ferocity in Othello, his mind is majestic and composed - Kermode
  • Black is the badge of hell - Shakespeare, Love's Labours Lost
  • Othello is both monster and hero - Greenblatt


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