Othello Thematic Quotes

Othello Thematic Quotes

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'An old black ram is tupping your white ewe.../The devil will make a grandsire of you'  Act 1. Scene 1 Race Iago

  • Context: Elizabeth notion: Black men are animal-like and have a hyper-sexuality
  • Context: 16th century idea that Black men are evil, and the devil often takes form as a black man (Reginald Scott's 'The Discovery of Witchcraft 'the divell the shape of a black moore'

'You're daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs.../You'll have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse;/You'll have your nephews neigh to you' Act 1. Scene 1 Race Iago

  • Animal Imagery
  • Context: 16th century attitude to miscegenation - corruption , Black people being inhuman, 
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Race 2

'Against all rules of nature' Race Brabantio

  • Attitude to inter-racial relations

'Thou has enchanted her.../Abused her delicate youth with drugs or minerals' Act 1 Scene 2 Brabantio Race Streotypes

'You're son-in-law is far more fair than black' Act 1.Scene 3  Race The Duke

  • Compliments Othello like Senator who calls him 'Valiant Moor' , however the opposing terms 'fair' and 'black' create a sense of mismatch indicating that the Duke regards Othello as an exception to rule.
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Race 3

'Her name, that was a fresh/As Dian's visage, is now begrimed and black/ As mine own face'  Act 3.Scene 3. Race Othello

  • Dian is the goddess of paleness and chasisty , he says her reputation was as fresh as a white face, white associated with purity, cleanliness, beauty but any more since she is cheaating on him' it is tarnished, dirty and stained like his face. 
  • Othello internalises the racist ideology of fellow characters e.g Brabantio

'Arise black vengeance, from the hollow cell' Act 3 Scene 3 Othello Race

  • Associates blackness with negativity..vengeance

'Yet I'll not shed her blood;/Nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow'And as smooth as monumental alabaster' Act 5 Scene 2 Othello

  • Alabaster - Fine Grain, so Desdemona is like a statue
  • He is about to kill her but so obsessed with not wanted to tarnish her skin, making it seem as though her whiteness is precious. 
  • Could be metaphorical.
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Race 4

'O, the more angel she,/ And you the blacker devil' Emilia Act 5 Scene 2

  • By killing Desdemona, Othello enacts the racist streotype that black men are violent, savages.

'Like the base Indian, threw a pearl away' Act 5 Scene 2 Othello

  • 16th century streotype that native americans and african americans were 'base' or 'uncivilised'
  • Many europeans account state that they were able to trade worthless beads for precious gems or golds, to Native Indians.
  • Compares Desdemona to a pearl - a white gem. 
  • 'You don't know what you've got till you've lost it'.
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'I hate the moor:/And it is thought abroad, that twixt my sheets/ He has done my office'Act 1. Scene 3 Jealousy Iago

  • Iago supplies an alternate motive for why he dislikes Othello, at first he claims it is because he doesn't promote him as lieutenant but now he claims that it is thought, through the grape vine, that Othello has slept with Emilia. 

'It is the green-eyed monster that doth mock/ That meat it feeds on'  Act 3 Scene 3 Iago

  • Foreboding tone : jealousy ends up destroying the heart of the man who falls prey to it

'Think'st thou i'ld make a life of jealousy/ For she had eyes, and chose me/I'll see before I doubt, when I doubt; prove' Act 3 Scene 3

  • She chose him despite being black
  • However his confidence is then turned over when he begins to doubt her.

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'They are never jealous for the cause,/But jealous for there are jealous: tis a monster begot upon itself, born on itself.' Emilia Act 3 Scene 4

  • Jealous husbands never have a reason to be jealous
  • The jealousy is generated out of nothing and feeds and multiples on itself

'My noble moor/... made of no such baseness/As jealous creatures were.

  • He is not the jealous type? Ironic
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