Critical quotes for Othello


Critics’ quotes

  1. The ‘racial atmosphere that Othello breathes determines his own responses to his tragic predicament’. E Berry

  2. ‘A character can only define himself through other characters’ - Everett

  3. ‘Evil is more terrifying when it is performed with the conviction of goodness and moral necessity.’ - JC Rice

  4. ‘Even those voices that hold out something useful...appear at different moments inadequate or irrelevant, corrupted or corruptible.’ - K Gross

  5. ‘All the horror is in just this - that there is no horror’ - F West

  6. ‘If he is to succeed in a crooked world he must not be taken in by the traditional code of values…to be direct and honest is not safe’ BJ Paris

  7. Iago ‘feels vastly superior to them [fools], but he is also vaguely uncomfortable about violating traditional values.’ BJ Paris

  8. ‘Iago’s hostility toward women may be the result… of fear, since they are a threat to his self-control.’ BJ Paris

  9. ‘Iago has an idealised image of himself as a consummate hypocrite and a fiendishly clever schemer.’ BJ Paris

  10. Iago is ‘the joker of the pack’ WH Auden

  11. Iago ‘has neither felt nor understood the spiritual impulses that bind ordinary human beings together’ EAJ Honigmann

  12. Iago ‘has a godlike sense of power’  EAJ Honigmann

  13. ‘Othello is in himself a victim, who has created for himself a personality which they can accept, which is probably mostly fictitious.’ Germaine Greer

  14. ‘Othello is the victim of, if you like, imperialism. He’s been sucked into somebody else’s scenario and he’s enacted this fake role to survive.’ Germaine Greer

  15. ‘Othello is of course the play’s hero only within the context of a white elitist male ethos.’ Karen Newman

  16. ‘Othello is thus no ordinary man, bun in his own eyes - and hers - something of a hero of legend… for it is one of his failings to exaggerate and dramatise himself and his own actions.’ GB Harrisson

  17.  ‘By far the most romantic figure among Shakespeare’s heroes… he does not belong to our world, and he seems to enter it we know not whence.’ AC Bradley

  18. '[Iago's] motives appear and disappear in the most extraordinary manner.' AC Bradley

  19. ‘The souls of those who contend with the hero may be thus undivided’ AC Bradely

  20. Iago has a 'special aptitude' AC Bradley

  21. '...this force completely possesses him; it is his fate. It is like the passion with which a tragic hero wholly identifies himself.' AC Bradley

  22. 'Iago appears for moments not as a consummate character, but as a man absolutely infatuated and delivered over to certain destruction.' AC Bradley

  23. ‘Othello’s tragedy is that he lives according to a set of stories through which he interprets the world… He is living the life of a chivalric warrior in a world run by money and self-interest.’ Sean


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