Othello (Vol. 79)
See also Othello Criticism (Volume 35), and Volumes 53, 68, 89.
Othello (ca. 1604) is generally considered to be one of Shakespeare's finest dramatic works. The play, a character-driven domestic tragedy of jealousy and deception, is set in Venice and Cyprus and recounts how the Venetian general Othello falls victim to the treachery of his ensign Iago. Scholars have identified the principal source of the story as Cinthio's Italian novella Hecatommithi (1565), which features in broad outline the characters and incidents that Shakespeare adapted into his tragic drama. In Shakespeare's version, Othello, after blindly succumbing to the diabolic machinations of his trusted standard-bearer Iago, quickly descends into enraged jealousy, falsely believing that his lieutenant Cassio has had a sexual affair with Desdemona, his innocent wife. Othello later smothers Desdemona, and then falls on his own sword when Iago's nefarious scheming comes to light. Commentators, actors, and directors have generally been drawn to the fascinating figures of Iago, the quintessential Shakespearean villain whose murky motivations for evil have remained elusive; Desdemona, a complex amalgam of feminine submissiveness and willful determination; and Othello, possessed of intriguing qualities ranging from his status as an exotic “Other” to his tragic propensity for self-deception. These figures have largely shaped modern critical assessments of the drama.
Character-centered study of Othello has long been the centerpiece of scholarly interest, with each of the drama's three principal figures—Othello, Iago, and Desdemona—eliciting some share of critical examination. Twentieth-century criticism of Othello's character has commonly emphasized the Moor's status as an exotic “Other” within the contexts of the racially heterogeneous Venetian society depicted in Shakespeare's drama. Albert Gerard (1957) opts for a moral understanding of Othello that highlights his anti-intellectual or “barbarian” nature. According to Gerard, the Moorish general, although a noble figure, lacks the full capacity for self-knowledge and moral wisdom necessary to avert tragedy; thus he is the perfect victim of Iago's cynical intrigues. Gerard insists that even at the play's conclusion Othello fails to attain an adequate intellectual awareness of his moral deficiencies. Millicent Bell (2002) concentrates on Othello's self-doubt as conditioned by the racialistic social world in which he exists. In Bell's view, Othello, as a black converted Christian recently married to a white woman, ultimately suffers from his inability to completely assimilate into a community that deems him a racial outsider. Turning to Iago, Leah Scragg (1968) maintains that the stage ancestry of this generally despicable character derives from dramatic representations of the Devil, rather than from the allegorical figure of Vice, a staple player in the medieval morality play tradition. Scragg argues that far from being an ambiguously motivated, amoral role, Shakespeare's consummate villain bears affinities to the Christian dark angel, a merciless seducer of souls driven by a cosmological desire for revenge. Addressing the last of the central triad of characters in Othello, Emily C. Bartels (1996) offers a feminist assessment of Desdemona's assertive qualities, explicating her impulse to question and destabilize the repressive hierarchy of patriarchal social order in the drama. According to Bartels, this defining aspect of Desdemona's character is one that traditional, male-oriented criticism of the play has tended to circumvent, obscure, or ignore.
Othello has had a sustained appeal among audiences, perhaps due to its decidedly human themes and potent, domestic intimacy, and remains one of Shakespeare's most frequently performed plays. The problem of successfully realizing its multifaceted characters and balancing the diverse issues raised in the play, however, has made the task of staging an entirely satisfying production an elusive one. Doug Hughes's 2001 production at New York City's Public Theater received mixed reviews. Ben Brantley (2001) finds the dramatic power of Liev Schreiber's near-psychopathic Iago to be the central element of this production and contends that no one else in the cast “comes close to matching Mr. Schreiber's playful interpretive intelligence.” Barbara D. Phillips (2001) likewise praises Schreiber, and observes that his star performance as Iago tended to highlight the deficiencies of the remaining members of the cast, including those of Keith David, whose representation of Othello she deems less compelling. In another review of Hughes's production, Charles Isherwood (2001) offers a complementary estimation. Acknowledging the “confident grasp of Schreiber's bewitching Iago,” Isherwood describes how the actor was able to draw audiences into a circle of complicity with his evil acts. The critic additionally stresses the manner in which stage and lighting effects served to illuminate Schreiber's mesmerizing power. Other commentators, however, found the emphasis on Othello's spiteful ensign less appealing. Michael Feingold (2001) records flashes of brilliance from Schreiber, but nevertheless finds that his impassive rendition of Iago “lacks credibility.” Feingold deems Keith David's Othello the better of the two character interpretations, although he does contend that David could not sustain his stately, moving, and dignified performance evenly throughout the evening. John Simon (2001) offers the most negative review of the staging, suggesting that the responsibility for its limitations rests solidly with director Doug Hughes, whose casting and interpretive decisions, he claims, obscured the tragic grandeur of Shakespeare's drama, burying its loftier, philosophical qualities among the sordidness of domestic drama.
Contemporary assessments of the thematic issues raised in Othello have included the play's representation of race symbolized by Othello's dark skin, the elements of wonder and spectacle embodied in Desdemona's lost handkerchief, and the linguistic subversion found in Iago's masterful manipulation of language. Race and colonialism figure prominently in Thorell Porter Tsomondo's (1999) new historicist estimation of the drama, which underscores a narrative dislocation of Othello as “Other,” an outsider displaced from Venetian norms by language, skin color, geography, and ideology. While exploring the racial dynamics at work in Othello, Edward Washington (1997) nevertheless focuses on the drama as a tragedy of misinterpreted signs, locating Othello's culpability for his own downfall in his reliance on a coded system of gestures and images, rather than on the underlying truths they represent. Paul Yachnin (1996) and Andrew Sofer (1997) concentrate on the symbolic and thematic resonance of Desdemona's handkerchief in Othello. Stolen by Iago and later produced as proof of her infidelity, the handkerchief is a fetishized commodity in Yachnin's reading, capable of eliciting wonder and ultimately violence. For Sofer, the handkerchief embodies a broad spectrum of thematic functions in the play, designating an interlocking chain of signification that includes witchcraft, sexuality, jealousy, revenge, murder, inconstancy, and falsified evidence. A prop as metaphor, the handkerchief ties together the drama's leading motifs as well as drawing attention to its own theatricality, Sofer concludes. Linguistic signification is the subject of Lucille P. Fultz's (1997) essay, which considers Iago's skillful manipulation of language to orchestrate the deaths of Othello and Desdemona. For Fultz, verbal seduction—a desire for power achieved through language—is a basic thematic component of the drama, one embodied by Iago in each of his relationships with fellow characters. Lastly, Thomas Moisan (2002) considers the role of the Venetian state in shaping the characters and tragic outcome of the play.
Criticism: Overviews And General Studies
SOURCE: Tsomondo, Thorell Porter. “Stage-Managing ‘Otherness’: The Function of Narrative in Othello.” Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature 32, no. 2 (June 1999): 1-25.
[In the following essay, Tsomondo analyzes the narrative and dramatic strategies of Othello, concentrating on the construction of Othello as “Other” in terms of its implications within the play and for Shakespeare's canonical status in the postcolonial epoch.]
New historicist and postcolonial research has lent to narratology's concern with voice and location of voice a heightened awareness of the sociopolitical as well as ideological functions of narrative discourse and the ways that literary texts inscribe and exploit these functions. In Hayden White's view, narrative is “not merely a neutral discursive form that may or may not be used to represent real events … but rather entails ontological and epistemic choices with distinct ideological and even specifically political implications” (ix). More concretely, Foucault's Discipline and Punish, and Said's Culture and Imperialism, draw critical attention not only to the sociopolitical and psychic dimensions of narrative discourse but to questions of power relations that inform narrative structures and practices.
Although Shakespeare's Othello is a dramatic rather than a narrative work—or perhaps...
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Criticism: Character Studies
SOURCE: Gerard, Albert. “‘Egregiously an Ass’: The Dark Side of the Moor. A View of Othello's Mind.” In Aspects of Othello: Articles Reprinted from Shakespeare Survey, edited by Kenneth Muir and Philip Edwards, pp. 12-20. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977.
[In the following essay, originally published in 1957, Gerard evaluates Othello as a “barbarian” figure by considering the Moor's failure to intellectually assess his own flaws, which ultimately leads to his “tragedy of groundless jealousy.”]
It is through the malice of this earthly air, that only by being guilty of Folly does mortal man in many cases arrive at the perception of sense.
There are three schools of Othello criticism. The most recent of these is the symbolic school, chiefly represented by G. Wilson Knight and J. I. M. Stewart, who have endeavoured to explain away the difficulties inherent in the traditional psychological interpretation of the Moor by turning the play into a mythic image of the eternal struggle between good and evil, embodied in the noble aspirations of Othello and the cunning cynicism of Iago.1 This school arose in part as a reaction to an attitude mainly exemplified by Stoll, though already initiated by Rymer and Bridges, according to whom this tragedy ought to be treated as a purely...
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SOURCE: Scragg, Leah. “Iago—Vice or Devil?” Shakespeare Survey 21 (1968): 53-65.
[In the following essay, Scragg contends that Iago, who exhibits distinct affinities with the allegorical figure of Vice found in medieval mystery and morality plays, should more properly be said to derive from stage representations of the Devil.]
For a considerable time critics have traced the characteristics displayed by Iago back to the Vice, the artful seducer of the Morality plays. Alois Brandl in 1898 included Iago among the descendants of the Vice, although apparently associating that figure with the Devil:
If we follow the role of Vice in the other English tragedies of this period and the following decades, we still find Haphazard in ‘Appius and Virginia’ as well as Ambidexter in ‘Cambyses’ as representatives of the old Morality-type, i.e. as seducer and hypocrite. In Marlowe's Mephistopheles the original diabolic character of this figure once more reaches full expression; in Marlowe's black Ithimor, Shakespeare's Aaron and Iago it is still strongly to be felt;1
and Cushman in 1900, while showing the utter disparity between the nature of Vice and Devil, explicitly endorses Brandl's derivation of Iago from the former and would add other Shakespearean villains to the list:
Why not also add...
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SOURCE: Bartels, Emily C. “Strategies of Submission: Desdemona, the Duchess, and the Assertion of Desire.” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 36 (spring 1996): 417-33.
[In the following essay, Bartels offers a feminist assessment of Desdemona's assertive qualities, explicating her impulse to question and destabilize the repressive hierarchy of patriarchal social order in Othello.]
Chaste, silent, shamefast, and obedient—these have become the buzz words in feminist discussions of early modern women: the dictates of an anxious patriarchal network, intent on regulating inevitably unruly female voices and bodies; the signs that women, continually accosted by sermons, marriage tracts, conduct books, communal rituals, and laws espousing these terms, really could not have had a renaissance.1 Renaissance women seem to have known it too. Why is it that Queen Elizabeth, visibly the most powerful woman in England from the mid-sixteenth to early seventeenth century, “speak(s) a discourse of apparent abjection,” alternately adjuring her femaleness and acknowledging its weaknesses?2 Why is it that “Jane Anger” (probably a pseudonym for an English gentlewoman) begins her proto-feminist “Protection for Women” (1589) with a letter to “the Gentlewomen of England” “crav(ing) pardon” for speaking out “rashly”?3 Why is it that Aemilia Lanyer introduces her...
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SOURCE: Bell, Millicent. “Shakespeare's Moor.” Raritan 21, no. 4 (spring 2002): 1-14.
[In the following essay, Bell explores the racial dynamics of Othello's character and contends that he ultimately suffers from his inability to completely assimilate into a community that deems him a racial outsider.]
Othello's whole life seems to be shaped by a society—like Shakespeare's England—in which self-transformation as well as the transformations effected by the forces of social change, or even by mere accident, operate to alter what one is, shift one's very selfhood from one template to another. Before he became the hero who won the regard of the Venetian state and the love of Desdemona, he had been someone we can only dimly imagine. Somehow, his career had begun by exile from an origin we never see directly. We can merely suspect its vast difference from his present condition. What he might have been as a person of station in his native place we will never know.
We do not even know without doubt that he is a “blackamoor,” a Negro from sub-Saharan Africa, like “raven-coloured” Aaron the Moor in Titus Andronicus who is described as having a “fleece of wooly hair” and whose child is called a “thick-lipped slave.” Roderigo slurringly refers to Othello as “the thick lips,” and he is called “black” throughout the play and says, himself, “Haply for I am...
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Criticism: Production Reviews
SOURCE: Brantley, Ben. “A Revolt against God with No Apology.” New York Times (10 December 2001): E1, E4.
[In the following review of Othello directed by Doug Hughes at the Joseph Papp Public Theater, Brantley observes the dominance of Liev Schreiber's Iago in the production.]
The psychopath is running the asylum again. And isn't it wonderful to know that you're in such—shall we say—capable hands?
Playing the ultimate disgruntled employee in the fast-paced production of Othello that opened last night at the Joseph Papp Public Theater, the amazing Liev Schreiber presents a tic-ridden, sexually crippled Iago who is clearly as mad as a rabid raccoon.
Yet he also possesses the sort of gifts that are usually rewarded with keys to the executive washroom: charm, efficiency, discreet sycophancy, organization and excellent people skills, including an ability to plant an idea in someone else's head and make him think it's his own.
A pity about that motiveless evil thing. But if he lived in latter-day Manhattan instead of long-ago Cyprus, this Iago would be the head of a Fortune 500 company or perhaps be one of Broadway's few bankable directors. At least until someone discovered a body in one of his filing cabinets.
Anyone doubting that Mr. Schreiber has advanced to the top rungs of American stage actors need only check...
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SOURCE: Phillips, Barbara D. “Review of Othello.” Wall Street Journal (12 December 2001): A15.
[In the following review of the 2001 Public Theater staging of Othello, Phillips notes the “austere power” of director Doug Hughes's production, but laments the lack of a more compelling Othello to match Liev Schreiber's masterful Iago.]
Othello is Shakespeare's most intimate tragedy, one in which the audience is made privy from the start to Iago's corrosive envy and hatred, his malign manipulations unrestrained by moral bounds. And it is the playwright's most concentrated drama, one in which the villain makes quick work of love, loyalty and honor as he destroys a forthright war hero and his innocent young bride using a stealthy arsenal of artful insinuation, pregnant pauses and a handkerchief embroidered with strawberries. The play, which opened Sunday at the Public Theater in a compelling production directed by Doug Hughes, and starring Keith David as Othello, the masterly Liev Schreiber as Iago and Kate Forbes as Desdemona, has its share of swordplay. But the true battlefield is one of wordplay—a personal realm in which language, well-aimed, is a powerful weapon.
Othello's soaring rhetorical gifts win the heart of his bride, Desdemona, who is entranced by his tales of far-off lands and courageous adventures. And they persuade the Duke, despite the anger of...
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SOURCE: Isherwood, Charles. “Review of Othello.” Variety 385, no. 5 (17-23 December 2001): 42-3.
[In the following review of the Public Theater's 2001 Othello, Isherwood remarks on the weakening of the drama's tragic anguish caused by its focus on Iago as enacted by Liev Schreiber—a performance unmatched by Keith David's “respectable” Othello or those of the remainder of the cast.]
Destruction is raised to the level of art in Othello, and audiences couldn't ask for a more captivating creator of chaos than the Iago of Liev Schreiber, the latest and finest in this exemplary young actor's growing gallery of Shakespeare performances for the Public Theater. Title notwithstanding, Shakespeare's tragedy is dominated on the page and often on the stage by its nihilistic antihero, and such is the case with Doug Hughes' clean-lined, efficient production. Keith David's performance as the manipulated Moor has many fine attributes, but it ultimately lacks the grandeur to wrest the play from the cool, confident grasp of Schreiber's bewitching Iago.
Schreiber, who has previously won major acclaim for his Iachimo (in Cymbeline) and his Hamlet in Public Theater productions, is the rare American actor of any generation who lives so comfortably inside the sound and sense of Shakespearean verse that centuries of developments in syntax, vocabulary and grammar seem to...
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SOURCE: Feingold, Michael. “Less Is Moor.” Village Voice 46, no. 50 (18 December 2001): 71.
[In the following review of Doug Hughes's 2001 Othello staged at New York City's Public Theater, Feingold acknowledges the overall merit of this production, but finds its passion “distressingly contained.”]
Greed is the drama critic's prevailing sin. Not greed for power or money—though none of us would complain if the artists all did exactly what we told them, and offered us bushels of cash to praise them for doing it—but greed for greatness. Offer me passable, I want good; give me good, I demand excellent; grant me excellent, and I say, “What ever happened to sublime?”
Take Doug Hughes's staging of Othello. It is a solid, handsome, intelligent, and skillfully acted production, at which I had a good time. And now I shall prove almost as ungrateful as Iago, who had a good job and hated his employer for not giving him a better one. Othello is such a good job that I want it to be great. It ought to be great; the people involved are capable of greatness, and some of them have occasionally demonstrated it. Why the show isn't great, I don't know. Whether it will be great in a few more weeks, I can't predict. Right now it is a good job; if you've never seen a great Othello, or great performances of the individual roles, and so have no yardstick by which to...
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SOURCE: Simon, John. “Moor is Less.” New York Magazine 34, no. 49 (24 December 2001): 109.
[In the following review of the 2001 Public Theater staging of Othello directed by Doug Hughes, Simon faults Hughes's casting and interpretive decisions, claiming that they obscured the tragic grandeur of Shakespeare's play, burying its loftier, philosophical qualities among the sordidness of domestic drama.]
What a chance for timeliness was missed by Doug Hughes's staging of Othello! By reducing the play to domestic drama (which on one level it is), the Public Theater has deprived it of its political and metaphysical half: the war between civilized goodness (Venice, Christianity, order) and barbarous evil (the Turks, treachery, chaos). That may have cut too close to the bone and required a larger, grander production than the impoverished one here. But how sad to see a shatteringly relevant historical and philosophical clash shrunk to a chamber piece of mere personal conflict, and even that poorly executed.
The casting of the principals demands a keen aesthetic sensibility. Whereas it is right to give nearly central importance to Iago, he should not physically dominate Othello, yet the hulking Liev Schreiber as Iago does precisely that. By making Iago smaller and physiognomically more trustworthy, the power of unperspicuous, insidious evil is more graphically highlighted....
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SOURCE: James, Caryn. “Review of Othello.” New York Times 151, no. 52005 (21 January 2002): E1, E5.
[In the following excerpted review of a BBC television adaptation of Othello directed by Geoffrey Saxe in 2002, James emphasizes the film's contemporary, racially charged setting and overall merit, despite its flawed depiction of a simplified dramatic villain.]
[I]nstitutional racism is the backdrop for [a televised] Othello, which entirely abandons Shakespeare's language. It cuts from a passionate scene of Othello in bed with Dessie (the cloyingly contrived name for Desdemona) to an episode in which the police beat a black suspect to death.
The film is richly photographed and stylized. Eamonn Walker, an English actor known for his utterly convincing role as the American Muslim Said in HBO's prison series, Oz, is Othello. He makes his name by standing outside his station house on the the night of the attack, raising his arms and declaring to an angry crowd that if the police acted badly they will be held responsible. Set against a dark sky and the glare of lights, this scene is one of many (directed by Geoffrey Saxe) that has an iconic, theatrical feel yet firmly reflects reality. Soon Othello is the new police commissioner, and Jago is incensed at being passed over.
[T]his film does not bludgeon viewers with social commentary. Instead,...
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SOURCE: Yachnin, Paul. “Magical Properties: Vision, Possession, and Wonder in Othello.” Theatre Journal 48, no. 2 (1996): 197-208.
[In the following essay, Yachnin interprets Othello as a theatrical evocation of the violent potentiality of wonder, embodied in Desdemona's fetishized handkerchief.]
A specter is haunting new historicism—the specter of the aesthetic: the attributes of beauty and sublimity, the realm of wonderful objects and feelings of awe. From Louis Montrose's evocation of the uncanny connections between Simon Forman's dream of Queen Elizabeth and William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream to Stephen Greenblatt's book, Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World, we can discern an investment in wonder among those whom we might have expected to be more attuned to the political dimensions of literature.1 Of course, materialist criticism is entitled to examine the forms of wonder, since wonder is as much involved in the socio-political realm as is gender, rank, or race. But it is not merely a cool-headed interest in wonder that we find in new historicism; on the contrary, it is an undertaking to arouse amazement in the reader. For some practitioners, the attempt to awe their readers has to do with the cachet associated with the mystifying style of postmodernist French theory, but for lucid writers such as Montrose and Greenblatt, the...
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SOURCE: Sofer, Andrew. “Felt Absences: The Stage Properties of Othello's Handkerchief.” Comparative Drama 31, no. 3 (fall 1997): 367-93.
[In the following essay, Sofer examines the symbolic and thematic significance of the handkerchief in Othello, listing the varying qualities it represents, such as Desdemona's misused honor, Othello's “ocular proof,” the powers of magic, the poetic notion of “felt absences,” and the inescapable “charm of objects.”]
Desdemona's handkerchief makes its first appearance in Shakespeare's source, Giraldi Cinthio's Hecatommithi. According to Cinthio, it is “a handkerchief embroidered most delicately in the Moorish fashion, which the Moor had given her [Disdemona] and which was treasured by the Lady and her husband too.”1 Cinthio's handkerchief contains no magic in its web; it is, rather, a crude plot device whose utility depends upon a string of chance events.2 By contrast, there is nothing coincidental in Shakespeare's dramatic embroidering of Cinthio's lurid pulp. In performance, Othello's handkerchief exerts an uncanny power over both characters and audience, and it propels the action as it repeatedly emerges in the right place at the wrong time. It seems almost to bend the characters to its own enigmatic will.
How do we account for the handkerchief's extraordinary grip on the audience's...
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SOURCE: Washington, Edward. “‘At the Door of Truth’: The Hollowness of Signs in Othello.” In Othello: New Essays by Black Writers, edited by Mythili Kaul, pp. 167-87. Washington D.C.: Howard University Press, 1997.
[In the following essay, Washington locates Othello's personal flaw in his tragic “dependence on image at the expense of truth, reality, and hope” and details the process of his downfall within the context of race.]
Even in this time of diverse, sophisticated, and politically progressive critical methodologies, Kenneth Burke's formalist statements (144, 149) remain a valuable guide for critics of Othello who wish to avoid the dubious conclusions that ensue from ill-premised racist ideology. In the first detailed account of racism's influence on Othello scholarship, Martin Orkin exposes and denounces the long tradition of racist discourse that pervades even the highest echelons of Othello criticism. Several scholars have since taken up the issue of race in Othello seemingly in response to Orkin's implicit challenge to critics to construct unbiased (that is, reliable if not precisely “objective”) evaluations of the drama's racial dimensions. Although most of these more recent essays strive to establish critical positions that eschew hasty racial prejudgments, no reading of the play has yet emerged that fully sets forth the semantic complexity of...
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SOURCE: Fultz, Lucille P. “Devouring Discourses: Desire and Seduction in Othello.” In Othello: New Essays by Black Writers, edited by Mythili Kaul, pp. 189-204. Washington D.C.: Howard University Press, 1997.
[In the following essay, Fultz interprets Othello as a drama of linguistic subversion represented by Iago's desire to discursively seduce and manipulate Othello, Desdemona, and the other principal figures in the drama.]
In her “Introduction” to Othello: New Perspectives, Virginia Mason Vaughan delineates the genealogy of Othello criticism, which according to her, “remained … a bastion of formalism and psychological analysis” well into the 1980s (13). Prior to this period, according to Vaughan, Othello critics were concerned with issues of textual history and authority, while debates swirled around issues of definitive editions and textual conflations. Vaughan maps the movement of criticism from controversies surrounding “which version was better” or “closer to Shakespeare's original text” to analyses of patterns of language and imagery, symbolism, and psychological motivations of characters. A major turning point in Othello criticism occurred in the 1980s with a shift toward feminist critique, deconstruction, and performance (14-18). Georgianna Ziegler, speaking of Hamlet criticism, contends that “in every age Shakespeare's...
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SOURCE: Moisan, Thomas. “Relating Things to the State: ‘The State’ and the Subject of Othello.” In Othello: New Critical Essays, edited by Philip C. Kolin, pp. 189-202. New York: Routledge, 2002.
[In the following essay, Moisan considers the role of the Venetian state in shaping the characters and tragic outcome of Othello.]
Yea and some forrain men and strangers haue beene adopted into this number of citizens, eyther in regard of their great nobility, or that they had beene dutifull towardes the state, or els had done unto them some notable seruice.
Men in Great Place, are thrice Seruants: Seruants of the Soueraigne or State; Seruants of Fame; and Seruants of Businesse. So as they haue no Freedome; neither in their Persons; nor in their Actions; nor in their Times.
(Bacon, “Of Great Place,” 42)
From “honest” to “dilate,” from “what's the matter?” to “My husband?” Othello has been shown to be home to a number of aurally and thematically resonant expressions, expressions that ramify in significance even as they impress themselves reiteratively upon the ear, contributing to what G. B. Shaw, writing of Othello, termed “the splendor of its word music” (135).1 One is...
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Bartels, Emily C. “Making More of the Moor: Aaron, Othello, and Renaissance Refashionings of Race.” Shakespeare Quarterly 41, no. 4 (winter 1990): 433-54.
Probes the Renaissance racial discourse that informs Shakespeare's characters Othello and Aaron, the Moor in his drama Titus Andronicus, as exotic threats to the social order.
Caro, Robert V. “Ignatian Discernment and the World of Othello.” Cross Currents 44, no. 3 (fall 1994): 332-44.
Applies the concept of spiritual discernment and analysis of spiritual disintegration proposed by St. Ignatius to an understanding of Othello's murder of Desdemona in Othello.
Ghazoul, Ferial J. “The Arabization of Othello.” Comparative Literature 50, no. 1 (winter 1998): 1-31.
Surveys the reception of Othello in the Arab world through translation, interpretation, and literary adaptation.
Hunt, Maurice. “Predestination and the Heresy of Merit in Othello.” Comparative Drama 30, no. 3 (fall 1996): 346-76.
Explores Othello as a Christian morality play in which the traditional Catholic theology of free will and temptation clashes with the Reformed Protestant doctrine of predestination.
Kaul, Mythili, ed. Othello: New Essays by Black...
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