Watch the trailer for Othello. What do you think this play is about?
Othello Othello is a Moor. Othello is a Venetian General. Married to Desdemona.
Moor- used to refer to North Africans, West Africans or, even more loosely, for non- whites or Muslims of any origin.
Read The History and Description of Africa by Leo Africanus, a primary source that existed at the time Shakespeare wrote Othello. Identify passages that describe the traits, behaviors, and perspectives of Africans, specifically Moors. Describe the tone the author uses, whether he is objective in his descriptions. Describe what his purpose in writing such a text might be.
Referred to as “devils” or “villians” Sexually overactive Prone to jealousy Magical powers Animal like force White skin = moral purity Black skin= moral corruption (sin)
Moors helped England conquer Spain. In 1601, Queen Elizabeth deported them, citing concerns about their irregular behavior and a fear that allowing them to stay in England would lead to overpopulation. Blacks were not typically associated with slavery at that time, since the slave trade would not be fully established until the late 17th century.
The first performance of Othello was by the King's Men on November 1, 1604, at the court of James I. James I had a keen interest in the history of the Turks and their defeat by the Christians in the Battle of Lepantoin 1571.
According to Venetian law, the Venetian Republic's army general was required to be a foreigner. Venetian society would admire Othello for his valor and leadership but still recoil at the notion of his marrying into its families.
Shakespeare's principal source for the plot was a short story by the Italian writer Cinthio Giambattista Giraldi (1504-1574), who included it in a collection of 100 domestic stories titled Hecatommithi, published in Venice in 1566.