Othello context and background presentation

Hi all. This presentation contains some literary, social and historical context of the play, along with some major themes/symbols, a very rough plot outline and a list of the main characters. Not the most useful resource but the context was pulled from various different resources and there is quite a lot of it. It also contains sections of the origins of revenge tragedy and information about Shakespearean tragedy.

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  • Created by: Rachel
  • Created on: 10-10-11 13:29
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CONTEXT
Social, historical and literary…read more

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SOCIAL CONTEXT
· The question of Othello's race is open to some debate. The term Moor now refers
to inhabitants of North Africa who conquered Spain in the Eighth Century, but
the term was used rather broadly during the period. A 1600 translation of John
Leo's "The History and Description of Africa" distinguishes "white or tawny
Moors" of the Mediterranean coast from the "Negroes or black Moors" of the
South.
· At the time, views in England regarding "Moors" were slightly more complex
because of a strong anti-Catholic sentiment and English fears of invasion by the
Spanish.
· It is difficult to know how many English people had seen someone with a
different colour skin to their own.
· E.A.J Honigmann concluded that Othello's race is ambiguous. "Renaissance
representations of the Moor were vague, varied, inconsistent and contradictory".
· It has been questioned whether a moorish Ambassador to Queen Elizabeth I at
the time was one inspiration for Othello, as the play was written only a few years
afterwards.…read more

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HISTORICAL CONTEXT
· In Shakespearean time, appearance was supposed to indicate
what lies within (good or evil). A physical deformity was
considered to be a mark of the devil. Deceptive appearances
torment tragic heroes, for example Othello assumes that Iago
is honest because he looks so.
· Black was traditionally the colour of evil and of the devil
according to both biblical and mythological sources.
Interracial marriages would have been shocking, and frowned
upon, at the time.
· Women were viewed as possessions who were financially
dependent upon their fathers until they were `handed over' to
their husbands.
· A woman's valued virtues were chastity, modesty, obedience
and faithfulness to their husbands.…read more

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HISTORICAL CONTEXT CONT.
· Women lacked rights and were considered subordinate and
inferior.
· In contrast to her sister Mary, Queen Elizabeth's reign
resulted in a Jacobean society where Catholics were feared
and distrusted.
· England was a superstitious country and people believed in
omens and portents. Witches and Witchcraft were the object
of morbid and fevered fascination throughout the reign of
Queen Elizabeth.
· Black people were regarded as exotic, but potentially savage,
threatening or dangerous.…read more

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LITERARY CONTEXT
· The story of Othello is derived from another source: an Italian
prose tale written in 1565 by Cinthio, which contained the
bare bones of Shakespeare's play.
· In Cinthio's earlier version, Iago's motive for revenge against
Othello is that he formerly loved and was rejected by
Desdemona.
· One suggestion for the inspiration of the character Iago is a
character from many morality plays called Vice. He was a
trickster who portrayed evil (an enemy of mankind and an
agent of the devil) and tempted young men away from virtue.
His humour and trickery endeared him to audiences.…read more

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Comments

hannah

It doesnt work properly, save it as a microsoft word 2007 format instead of open document please.

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