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J1Promotional Examination 2012 Literature Paper 3 Othello the Moor of Venice Literature Paper 3 The Individual and Society From Act 1 up to end of Act.

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Presentation on theme: "J1Promotional Examination 2012 Literature Paper 3 Othello the Moor of Venice Literature Paper 3 The Individual and Society From Act 1 up to end of Act."— Presentation transcript:


2 J1Promotional Examination 2012 Literature Paper 3 Othello the Moor of Venice Literature Paper 3 The Individual and Society From Act 1 up to end of Act 5; Choice of one of two essay questions

3 Reading, and Readings of Othello; Interpretations of the play Different schools of literary-critical thought: Marxist, Feminist, Post-Structuralist Psychoanalytic; Formalist; Conventional; Unorthodox; Radical Regurgitations of borrowed points from run of the mill guide books Your own Reading / Interpretation of the play, Othello?

4 Genre: Shakespearean Tragic Drama Concept of Tragedy and the concept of Tragic Hero Setting, Time, Atmosphere Critically significant Themes & Issues Dramatis Personae: Characters and their Relationships Plot organization and development Dramatic Techniques re- use of Poetry and Prose; Dramatic Techniques re Elements of Style: Analysis of Diction, Imagery, Symbolism, Syntax, Rhythm Dramatic Effects Lecture Overview

5 Remember, lest you forget The essence of all drama is CONFLICT.

6 Entry Point? to the text of the play, ‘Othello’ Through the language; (speech; dialogue) Always through an analysis of the choice and form of the LANGUAGE of the play; The language the characters speak to each other in speech and dialogue

7 Common causes / sources of Conflict Money; (Money is the root of all Evil?) Beautiful women (Desdemona) Power; power distribution; power dynamics Passions such as Ambition; Greed; Jealousy Love (matters of the heart); Sex; Marriage; Race, Religion, Ethics, and Culture Ideology (Rival Belief and Value Systems) Appearances, and Reality

8 Shakespearean Tragedy · Tragedy? A work of fiction that plays out before us with implacable logic, for our moral edification; OTHELLO — a drama of Tragedy? · Serious consequences arise from passions that disrupt life. · E.g. Envy, Jealousy, Resentment, lack of faith re-persona relationships. · Leads to the tragic death of the main character / Hero; also the deaths of the innocent and good.

9 Tragic Hero [whose situation changes from well-being to misfortune] A potentially noble person who, through some flaw in Hero’s character (what is Othello’s tragic flaw?), helps to bring about his own tragic downfall, (hamartia—tragic error / flaw) and who, by suffering acquires self- knowledge, and so purges his faults.

10 Setting: VENICE & CYPRUS (Knowledge of the geography of the play?) · Venice—first Act of the play takes place in Venice; · 16 th Century, Venice—a powerful European city-state. · A centre of commerce & and protector of the Christian religion against the Turks who are regarded as infidels.

11 Atmosphere e.g. the creation of an atmosphere of INTRIGUE & EVIL: Notice how the play begins in darkness. Symbolism? Symbolical significance? Foreshadowing, as a dramatic technique Interestingly, Acts 3 & 4 are staged in daylight. Notice it is in the daylight Acts the deception of Othello takes place. Why?

12 Critically significant Themes & Issues (Central Thematic Concerns of the play): Love / Romance; Hate; Order & Disorder; Conflict; Change; Good & Evil e.g. Cruelty; Magic; Witchcraft; Superstition; Appearance and Reality (Deception or Deceitful Appearance, Hypocrisy) Jealousy, Envy, Resentment, Reputation, Trust, Honesty, Innocence, Credulity; Power, Revenge, Fate and Free Will; Racial and Cultural differences; Miscegenation; Race, Colour, Alienation (Important as suggested even by the title of the play). Jealousy, the dominant theme? Would you agree?

13 Themes and Literature Paper 3 ‘This is Venice!’ - Brabantio The Individual and Society; (Antithesis) Contrasting individuals; contrasting cultures Othello, the Outsider; Othello’s Otherness The racial, and cultural differences and also cultural distance between Othello as an African Moor and white, European Venetians such as Iago as a rival individual in Venetian society

14 Dramatic Techniques used by Shakespeare · Set Speeches; · Soliloquies; also Asides · Patterned dialogue; · Complex use of patterned imagery; · Poetic language — Noble characters speak in blank verse; note use of assonance and alliteration; · Prose — lower status characters speak in prose? · Atmosphere, scene setting, lighting effects, all suggested through the power of language.

15 Language and Characterization All speeches reveal ‘states of mind’

16 Characterization: Who is Who in the play? (Venetians & Florentines?) Protagonists and Antagonists? Power and influence? Relationships: Othello – Iago relationship? Othello – Desdemona relationship? Every character is partly defined by his / her relationship with other characters; Who is Gratiano? Lodovico? Montano?

17 Characterization and Language Characters are the language that they speak The choice and form of language and imagery used by characters to speak about other characters reveals much about themselves, as well as those they describe; Consider Iago’s representations of Othello, Cassio, Roderigo; and Desdemona

18 Characterization and Language The character exists from what is spoken; This includes not just concentrating attention on choice of words But also on the feelings and motives around the word, as much as the word itself;

19 Shakespeare’s language — Poetry & Prose: Mode of diction: energy of words in relation to meaning; power of words in context? Vivid Imagery; Symbolism; Personification; Rhyme (patterned sound repetition) Rhythm (movement of thought) Rhetoric: Copia Verborum; All kinds of Repetition, and Enumeration (Lists); Puns; Antithesis; Use of Irony;

20 Copia verborum (Copia) (Long speeches); Extended dialogue

21 Diction of Shakespearean Characters Use of Latinisms; Latinated vocabulary More plain Saxon monosyllabic words English slang Vernacular Dialect Freely transforming nouns into verbs and verbs into nouns etc; Ungrammaticality

22 Iago The thought whereof Doth like a poisonous mineral gnaw my inwards; And nothing can or shall content my soul Till I am evened with him, wife for wife; Till I have got even with him…

23 Imagery Seeming & Reality Disease and Corruption Animal/Bestial Imagery Nature Prejudice Heaven & Hell Order & Chaos Imprisonment, of Evil Black & White Light & Darkness Clothing Magic & Witchcraft Fate War Focusing on Imagery— Image ideas; clusters of repeated images convey themes;



26 Imagery in Poetic Drama Imagery: Carefully developed comparisons Arising from the sophistication and precision of the language of Shakespeare’s characters Why? To what purpose? In order to create / implant a particular picture (image) in the mind of the audience;

27 Imagery: Iago to Roderigo in Act 2 Scene 1 p71; p73 Her eye must be fed What delight shall she have to look on the devil A fresh appetite Now…her delicate tenderness will… begin to heave the gorge and Disrelish and abhor the Moor

28 Some other examples of imagery Appearance & Reality: “not I for love and duty, / But seeming so, for my peculiar end” Disease & corruption: “a curse of marriage” “Didst thou not see her paddle with the palm of his hand?” “I’ll pour this pestilence into his ear” Clothing: “three great ones of the city off-capp’d to him”

29 Shakespeare embodies conflict using Antithesis, and Effect Sets word against word; Phrase against phrase, Line against line; Speech against speech; silence with speech Image against image; Character against character; Scene against scene; Why? To keep the audience constantly engaged through varying dramatic tension.


31 1. Shakespeare as Dramatist Shakespeare as Poet (Noting and commenting on elements of poetic language)

32 2. Antithesis revisited: A black / white opposition at all levels: Poetically; physically; psychologically; morally; religiously; culturally; ethnically Reflected in the play’s language; Dark & Light; Heaven and Hell; Love and Hate;

33 3. Re- Themes & Issues revisited: a)Miscegenation ‘O treason of the blood!’ It is only when race is connected with miscegenation—it becomes a highly charged emotional issue; b)Envy c)Reputation d)Othello’s paranoid and pathological jealousy

34 4. Iago’s grievances; and theories re- his villainy: A villain with a motive: Promotion of Cassio? Unfounded suspicion Othello is having an affair with Emilia? Envious of Othello re- Othello’s perceived superior authority; sexual potency; contentment / peace of mind? of Othello’s goodness and innocence—the absence of envy?

35 Iago, a Machiavellian malcontent? Iago, a motiveless villain? Iago, not a villain? Does not recognize, only pretends to recognize conventional moral dichotomies of good and evil? No good or bad; only strong and weak? Iago and the will to power; might is right Iago, a sadist? Machiavellian language; the artful deceiver

36 What’s immoral about prevailing over others? Evil as neither really evil nor really good Just merely useful or counterproductive The strong and the smart inevitably desire to dominate and destroy the weak and stupid “And what’s he then that says I play the villain” In Machiavellian language, virtue is power

37 6. Language—contains the psychological shading of the characters The awful vulgarity of Iago’s mind: Iago’s fondness to reduce most vividly and degrade / debase all human activity— e.g. Love is merely an anatomical function— ‘a lust of the blood’. Reputation is an ‘idle and most false imposition Oft got without merit and lost without Deserving’; Darkness is his natural element and he dominates the three night scenes;

38 7. Othello’s stately formal, courtly, slow moving, dignified poetic language: Rhetoric and poetic rhetoric—Rhetorical strategy in great set speeches: Being very consciously aware of your situation, and your objective; Language—fundamentally a weapon in human struggles; Appropriately formal and respectful; Persuasion by Reason; Persuasion by Emotion; appeal to imagination;

39 Poetics—discourse that moves people artistically/aesthetically/rationally/emotionally Rhythm—The best judge of rhythm is the ear; The ear is offended by harshness; and soothed by smoothness; tonalities; Accumulation of Repeated Sounds to intensify emotional impact; Diction—use of emotionally charged words; Copia verborum—accumulating language—piling up of language to intensify emotional effect / impact and consolidate argument;

40 Structure; arrangement; sequence; Patterning; what to include / exclude; slanting; Verbal labeling, or indexing, affects perception very significantly; Proportion; Emphasis; Repetition for emphasis; Anaphora; antanaclasis (punning on a repeated word to obtain different meanings); hyperbole Repeated words, phrases, rhythms, and sounds add to the emotional intensity of a moment or scene thus heightening its dramatic effect.

41 This overwhelming richness and abundance of words—necessary to convince or enchant. Othello is also very much aware of his rhetorical skill— He knows it is the vehicle of his majestic authority; & the source of his power to win Desdemona.  Othello’s physical attributes and vocal endowments as made evident in the Senate Scene.

42 8. Othello—from Page to Stage: Drama is literature intended for performance; Audience impact; None of the language of the play works in isolation; Lighting, costume, sound effects, actors’ appearance, Gesture and movement reinforce the implications of the play’s verbal texture.


44 Preliminary Remarks Basic knowledge / basic facts (Sound general knowledge of the play); –e.g. sequence of acts and scenes; dramatic action on stage, Now? Before? After? Critically significant scenes / events Critically significant speeches/soliloquies

45 Text in context Text in context /dramatic situation / From page to stage / Visualizing the scene; Appreciation of, and engagement with the dramatic situation, and dramatic effects; Theatrical experience of the play for the first time, for a first time audience? –e.g. Scene 3 of Act 1 – theatrically experienced, it is a most impressive scene;

46 Text (of Act 1 Scene 3) in context The highlight of the proceedings is Othello’s justification of what he has done; Knows that to contradict would arouse hostility Othello’s account of the wooing of Desdemona is a magnificent assertion of his worth; Great dramatic tension, and suspense; It holds us enthralled, (Dramatic effect, external) as it does the Duke. (Dramatic effect, internal)

47 Critical thinking re- dramatic action Critical intelligence / critical thinking; Critically evaluating his justification; Critical reservations (of viewer of the play)

48 Critically Thinking Does Othello prove to the Duke he really loves Desdemona, and Desdemona Othello? Does Othello prove to the Duke that he has done nothing wrong? Is Othello a saintly figure? Is Brabantio completely at fault? Is Othello completely faultless?

49 Structure of the play? Structure of an Act? Of a scene? Of a speech? Fundamental questions re- Structure Purpose / Intention / Strategy / ‘Game Plan’ (Any hidden agenda?) Organization: Why things are where they are—why is this here, and not there? Emphasis re- sequence of presentation;

50 Structure: Dynamic & Symmetric Dynamic: Consists of the sequence of events which build up a ‘cause-effect’ pattern to create the overall plot Symmetric: (a) Through various parallels, and cross-references, repeated images, symbols (b) and language that creates a network of threads that runs through the entire play

51 Examination Questions Focus in mind Proceed with the focus of the question in mind; Essay: Introductory overview plus Thesis, or Controlling Framework of Ideas; Paragraph organization; Key leader sentence for each paragraph.

52 Dramatic significance of a passage? How the content of the passage relates to and contributes to the whole plot What and how it contributes to your understanding of character(s) Its relevance to the underlying themes of the play Its contribution to the creation of atmosphere and mood Its contribution to the overall impact on the audience both at this point in the play / as a whole

53 Analysis Framework of Conversation Turns Who speaks, how often, and for how long? What kind of contribution does each speaker make? Who interrupts and gets interrupted? Who influences the agenda and changes the topic? How do the speakers address each other? Does any speaker comment on another’s contributions? What distinguishes the language of each speaker?

54 Othello’s greatness as a public figure: His adventurous background Public image of discipline and self-control; (Private image?); and diplomacy; Courage, bravery, fortitude;’valiant’; his charisma, calmness and confidence; Personal, romantic, exotic, ethnic and cultural background (Different / unusual / stranger / outsider) Characterization Re- Othello

55 Othello’s character Othello the successful warrior? More a man of action than an intellectual? More a doer than a thinker? His trusting nature; patient dignity? Othello the ‘noble Moor’?

56 Key set speeches & soliloquies Othello’s O MY SOUL’S JOY! 2, 1 First soliloquy Act 3, Sc 3 Othello’s ‘Farewell the tranquil mind’ Othello’s ‘Pontic sea’ speech 3, 3 Othello’s ‘Had it pleased heaven’ 4, 2 Othello’s ‘It is the cause’ Act 5, Sc 2

57 Iago’s advice to YOU!!! ’Tis in ourselves that we are thus, or thus. Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our WILLS are gardeners. …to have it sterile with IDLENESS or manured with INDUSTRY, Why the power and corrigible authority of this lies in OUR WILLS.”

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