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1 This is a partial version of Thinking about Othello, an interactive study guide produced by Shakespeare Help. Viewing this Presentation To view this presentation in Slide Show View: Press the F5 key on the top row of the keyboard, or click the Slide Show tab on the ribbon and then click the From Beginning button. To exit the presentation, press the ESC key. To purchase the complete presentation, please visit: www.ShakespeareHelp.com Next Slide

2 © 2010, ShakespeareHelp.com

3 Home IntroductionQuizzesQuotesCharactersThemes and ImagesYouTube VideosEssay Topics

4 The BasicsThe TextSourcesThe Great Chain of Being Main Menu

5 Othello was first performed in 1604. The play is set in 16 th century Venice and Cyprus. Cyprus, a colony of Venice, is being attacked by the Turks. The Moors were Moslem people of Northwest Africa. Being dark-skinned, to Elizabethans, they were the same as blacks. Othello is the only one of the four tragedies that is domestic, involving private action, as opposed to the universal implications of Hamlet, King Lear or Macbeth. Thomas Keene as Othello, 1884 NextMain MenuIntroduction

6 First Quarto: Othello was first published in quarto format in 1622. First Folio: Othello was also included in a collection of Shakespeare’s plays compiled by two of his associates, published in 1623. The Folio version is longer, including several passages and wording changes that do not appear in the Quarto version. Some scholars believe that the Quarto is an earlier version of the play, and the Folio represents Shakespeare’s revised version. Quartos were also published in 1630, 1655, 1681, 1695, 1699 and 1705. Title page of the First Quarto, 1622 NextBackMain Menu Introduction

7 The plot of Othello is taken from an Italian story, Un Capitano Moro, written in 1565 by Giovanni Battista Giraldi Cinzio (aka Cinthio). The original story is about a Moorish general who is deceived by his ensign into believing his wife is unfaithful. Shakespeare added important minor characters, including Roderigo, Iago’s rich young dupe, and Brabantio, Desdemona’s grief-stricken father. Shakespeare also compressed the action of the play into a few days and set it against the backdrop of military conflict. He also developed the ensign, a minor villain in the original story, into the complex villain, Iago. Shakespeare’s source for the Venetian-Turkish conflict is probably The History of the Turks by Richard Knolles, published in 1603. BackMain Menu Introduction

8 Main Menu Act IAct IIAct III Act IV Act V

9 1. Where does this play take place?   2. Why does Iago hate Othello? 3. Why is Roderigo jealous of Othello? 4. Who is Brabantio, and what news do Iago and Roderigo bring him? 5. What is Desdemona's response to Brabantio when he asks for her obedience as a daughter? 6. Summarize Othello's explanation of how he won Desdemona's love. Main MenuOthello Quizzes

10 Click anywhere to show answer. 1.Where does this play take place? Click anywhere to show answer. The setting is 16th century Venice and Cyprus. The setting is 16th century Venice and Cyprus. The island of Cyprus, which is under attack by the Turks, was a colony of Venice at this time. Othello QuizzesMain Menu

11 Act IAct IIAct III Act IV Act V

12 1. I say, put money in thy purse. It cannot be long that Desdemona should continue her love to the Moor. Put money in thy purse.   2. Keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them. Good signior, you shall more command with years Than with your weapons. 3. She loved me for the dangers I had pass'd, And I loved her that she did pity them This only is the witchcraft I have used. 4. The Moor is of a free and open nature That thinks men honest that but seem to be so; And will as tenderly be led by th' nose As asses are. Main MenuOthello Quotes

13 Click anywhere to show answer. 1.I say, put money in thy purse. It cannot be long that Desdemona should continue her love to the Moor. Put money in thy purse. Click anywhere to show answer. Iago is duping Roderigo into giving him more money. Iago is duping Roderigo into giving him more money. He convinces Roderigo that he still has a chance to win Desdemona after she tires of Othello, but it will require more cash. He convinces Roderigo that he still has a chance to win Desdemona after she tires of Othello, but it will require more cash. Roderigo foolishly believes Iago's lie and rushes off to sell his land. Main MenuOthello Quotes

14 Main Menu OthelloIagoDesdemonaRoderigo Cassio BrabantioEmiliaBiancaLodovicoGratianoMontanoThe Duke of Venice

15 Main Menu Othello as OutsiderOthello as GeneralOthello’s JealousyOthello / Iago – Act III, Scene 3 Othello’s Language Othello’s Suicide Characters

16 Main Menu IagoIago’s SoliloquiesIago / Othello – Act III, Scene 3Iago’s View of WomenIago’s Motives for Evil Iago and the Forces of Darkness Characters

17 John McCullough as Othello Main MenuNext Othello is a “Moor,” a black man from Northern Africa. His status in Venice is complicated as both an insider and outsider. Although he is from a foreign culture, he is the commander of the Venetian military. In the first scene, Iago, Roderigo, and Brabantio all emphasize Othello’s outsider status as “the Moor.” Brabantio accuses Othello of winning Desdemona with magic and drugs; otherwise, she would not have fallen in love with one so foreign. CharactersOthello

18 Main MenuBackCharacters Iago believes that Desdemona’s love for Othello is “unnatural.” He uses this to convince Roderigo that she will soon tire of Othello and seek another lover. Iago also uses Othello’s “outsider” status to plant the initial seeds of jealousy in Othello. He tells him at one point that Venetian women do not consider infidelity a sin unless they get caught. He convinces Othello that eventually Desdemona will “match you with her country forms” (compare you to the men of her own country) and regret her marriage. Ironically, Othello fears that the qualities that made her fall in love with him will make her eventually reject him. Othello

19 This long and intense scene is at the literal and figurative center of the play, showcasing Iago’s powers of psychology and manipulation. Although it is the climax (turning point) of the play, there is no physical action, only psychological action in the mind of Othello. Main MenuNextCharacters Iago never directly accuses, only hints and suggests, forcing Othello to draw conclusions on his own. Iago maintains the appearance of an “honest” man who reluctantly reports the truth. OthelloIagoBack

20 Main MenuNextBackCharacters Iago takes advantage of Othello’s gullibility and insecurity as an outsider in Venetian society. He tells Othello that Desdemona will eventually compare him to Venetian men and regret marrying him. Her will, recoiling to her better judgment, May fall to match you with her country forms And happily repent. Iago first plants the seed of jealousy in Othello’s mind when he notices Cassio leaving: I like not that. (III, 3) Desdemona plays into Iago’s hands by pleading with Othello to reinstate Cassio. OthelloIago

21 Iago reminds Othello that Desdemona is capable of deception: She deceived her father by marrying him. She deceived Othello when she pretended to “shake and fear” while listening to his stories, but was really captivated by them. As soon as Othello expresses a doubt, Iago immediately reinforces it, reminding Othello that it is natural for people to eventually seek out others of their own kind and social station. Iago skillfully fills Othello’s head with gross sexual images of Desdemona. When Othello demands proof of Desdemona’s infidelity, Iago asks if he would “see her topped,” knowing that Othello will be tortured by this mental image. Main MenuNextBackCharactersOthelloIago

22 This scene begins Othello’s his tragic decline. The poetic images reflect his passionate/bestial state of mind: After hearing of Cassio’s dream, Othello vows to “tear her all to pieces.” By the end of the scene, Othello is under the power of Iago and will remain so until the end of the play. Othello accepts Iago’s reports of the dream and the handkerchief as facts. When they kneel together, Othello is symbolically making a pact with the Devil. Iago ends the scene: “I am your own forever.” Ironically, the reverse is true. Iago now completely controls Othello. Main MenuNextBackCharactersOthelloIago

23 Othello vacillates between the two polarities in the play (Desdemona/Iago, light/dark, good/evil). This scene dramatizes a tortured mind being pulled in two directions. In the first half of the play before this scene, Othello is guided by his new marriage and his love of Desdemona. In the second half of the play, Iago controls Othello's thoughts and actions leading up to the murder of Desdemona in the final act. Main MenuCharactersOthelloIagoBack

24 Iago is a soldier and Othello's ancient (ensign or standard bearer). Cassio as his lieutenant. He hates Othello for passing him up for promotion and appointing Cassio as his lieutenant. Iago despises Cassio as a "theoretician" with no practical experience. Iago despises Cassio as a "theoretician" with no practical experience. Iago is an evil genius who escapes detection because of his ability to hide his true nature and intentions. Iago successfully manipulates almost everyone in the play to accomplish his evil ends—Roderigo, Emilia, Cassio, Bianca, Desdemona and Othello. Iago successfully manipulates almost everyone in the play to accomplish his evil ends—Roderigo, Emilia, Cassio, Bianca, Desdemona and Othello. Main MenuNextCharacters Edwin Booth as Iago Iago

25 Iago is associated with literal darkness throughout the play, and he represents the “darker” characteristics of human nature. When Iago first appears in the play, he is hiding in the darkness (I, 1). When Brabantio calls for a light, Iago exits. His schemes cannot face the light of exposure. Iago ends his first soliloquy by describing his plot as originating in archetypal darkness: Hell and night / Must bring this monstrous birth to the world's light. (I, 3) Main MenuCharacters James O'Neil as Iago NextBackIago

26 Iago again slips off into the darkness in V, 1, when he sets up Roderigo to kill Cassio. After killing Roderigo, he makes an ironic comment to Gratiano and Lodovico, pretending he does not know Roderigo: Roderigo:O damn'd Iago! O inhuman dog! Iago:Kill men i' the dark! (V, 1) The dark images associated with Iago are contrasted with the light imagery associated with Desdemona. When he kills Desdemona, Othello “puts out the light” and symbolically capitulates to Iago and the forces of darkness. As he extinguishes the light of Desdemona’s goodness, the triumph of Iago’s evil is complete. Main MenuCharactersBackIago

27 Appearance vs. RealityBlack and WhiteLight and DarknessJealousyLovePassion vs. Reason Main Menu

28 Iago is associated with darkness, and Desdemona is associated with light, stars, purity and innocence. Shakespeare uses darkness ironically: Othello is literally the “darker” character (because of his skin color), but he is a wise leader and a loving husband. “Fair Iago” represents the “dark side” of human nature. Iago manipulates Othello by tapping into the “darker” side of his nature, until he completely controls Othello’s thoughts and actions. Iago often hides in the darkness. I, 1: Iago awakens Brabantio and anonymously shouts insults from the darkness. V, 1: Iago orchestrates the attack on Cassio and hides in the darkness to escape detection. Main MenuNextThemes and Images

29 As a contrast to Iago, Othello is unafraid of the torchlight as Brabantio and the others approach to confront him. Othello:But, look! what lights come yond? Iago:Those are the raised father and his friends: You were best go in. Othello:Not I; I must be found… (I, 2) Emilia’s last conversation with Desdemona emphasizes this theme when Emilia asks Desdemona if she would ever be unfaithful to her husband. Desdemona:No, by this heavenly light! Emilia:Nor I neither by this heavenly light; I might do't as well i' the dark. (IV, 3) Main MenuNextBackThemes and Images

30 As Othello prepares to kill Desdemona, he extinguishes a candle and uses a powerful image of light and dark: Put out the light, and then put out the light: If I quench thee, thou flaming minister, I can again thy former light restore, Should I repent me; but once put out thy light, Thou cunning'st pattern of excelling nature, I know not where is that Promethean heat That can thy light relume. (v, 2) Othello realizes that he can relight the candle if he extinguishes the flame; however, if he murders Desdemona, he will not be able to “relume” her light. Main MenuNextBackThemes and Images

31 After killing Desdemona, Othello imagines an eclipse that covers the world in darkness. Methinks it should be now a huge eclipse Of sun and moon, and that the affrighted globe Should yawn at alteration. (V, 2) Main MenuBack Desdemona in Bed Asleep John Graham, 1111 Themes and Images

32 The marriage of Othello and Desdemona might have been seen as “unnatural” in Venetian society. Brabantio’s claim that Othello used trickery or drugs to win his daughter is taken seriously by the other Venetian noblemen in Act I. Othello won Desdemona’s love honestly and respectfully, by telling the story of his life and exploits. She loved me for the dangers I had pass'd, And I loved her that she did pity them. (I, 3) Desdemona saw past Othello’s “visage” (outward appearance) and fell in love with him for his honor and bravery. I saw Othello's visage in his mind, And to his honors and his valiant parts Did I my soul and fortunes consecrate. (I, 3) Main MenuNextThemes and Images

33 Iago’s descriptions of love are always graphic, sexual, and often bestial, usually intended for maximum shock value. Taunting Brabantio with the elopement of Othello and Desdemona: ○ Even now, now, very now, an old black ram Is tupping your white ewe (I, 1) ○ …your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs (I, 1). Telling Othello he cannot catch Cassio and Desdemona in the act: ○ It is impossible you should see this, Were they as prime as goats, as hot as monkeys, As salt as wolves in pride… (III, 3) Main MenuNextBackThemes and Images

34 The last time Othello sees Desdemona before Iago convinces him of her infidelity, he utters a prophetic statement about their love: Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my soul, But I do love thee! and when I love thee not, Chaos is come again. (III, 3) Othello’s gullibility is emphasized when, later in the same scene, he rejects Desdemona’s love. Look here, Iago; All my fond love thus do I blow to heaven. (III, 3) Tragically, Othello allows his love for Desdemona to be replaced by Iago’s hate. Yield up, O love, thy crown and hearted throne To tyrannous hate! (III, 3) Main MenuNextBackThemes and Images

35 When Othello accuses Desdemona publicly and strikes her, her love for him remains pure. Unkindness may do much; And his unkindness may defeat my life, But never taint my love. (IV, 2) Even as she is about to be killed, her love for Othello does not waver. Othello:Think on thy sins. Desdemona:They are loves I bear to you. (V, 2) In his final speech, Othello asks to be remembered as “one that loved not wisely but too well.” (V, 2) In what sense did Othello love “too well”? Main MenuNextBackThemes and Images

36 Shakespeare repeats the theme of love in Othello’s subplots. Roderigo is a comic version of the heroic lover, threatening to drown himself when he learns that Desdemona has married Othello. Bianca’s love for Cassio is amusing to him. He lets her believe that he will marry her in order to use her. ○ She is persuaded I will marry her, out of her own love and flattery, not out of my promise. (IV, 1) Contrast Emilia's practical view of love and men with Desdemona’s idealized (and naïve?) love for Othello. ○ …and have not we affections, Desires for sport, and frailty, as men have? Then let them use us well: else let them know, The ills we do, their ills instruct us so. (IV, 3) Main MenuThemes and ImagesBack

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