Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 258

Bloom, Harold, ed. William Shakespeare’s “Othello.” New York: Chelsea House, 1987. Seven essays that explore the issues of power and the difference between male and female roles and occupations. Holds that the play is at once tragic and comic. Includes helpful bibliography and Shakespeare chronology.

Calderwood, James L. The Properties of “Othello.” Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1989. Takes the theme of ownership as a starting point and provides an overview of Elizabethan property lines to set the stage for argument. Stretches the term property to include not only material and territorial possessions but racial, social, and personal identity.

Heilman, Robert B. Magic in the Web: Action and Language in “Othello.” Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1956. Extensive discussion of Iago’s manipulative rhetoric. Argues against Othello as a “victim,” presenting him as responsible, if only in part, for his own actions. A good resource for both general readers and students.

Nevo, Ruth. Tragic Form in Shakespeare. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1972. Chapter on Othello describes the two primary ways of looking at the Moor of Venice: as a man blinded by love, and as a man blinded by his tainted vision of that love. Chronicles the events leading to the protagonist’s downfall.

Vaughan, Virginia Mason, and Kent Cartwright, eds. “Othello”: New Perspectives. Teaneck, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1991. A collection of twelve essays that examine different theoretical approaches. Goes beyond a discussion of good versus evil to reveal a variety of nuances in the play. Traces readings and misreadings from the first quarto to the present.

Media Adaptations

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on June 18, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 139

Otello, National Video Corporation Ltd., 1982. Performance of Verdi's opera featuring Kiri Te Kanawa, Vladimir Atlantov, and Piero Cappuccil-li. Distributed by Home Vision and HBO Home Video. 135 minutes.

Otello, Cannon Films, 1986. Highly acclaimed film version of Verdi's opera directed by Franco Zeffirelli. Features Placido Domingo, Katia Ricciarelli, and Justino Diaz. In Italian with English subtitles. Distributed by Media Home Entertainment Inc. 123 minutes.

Othello, UFA, 1922. Silent version of Shakespeare's tragedy featuring Emil Jannings, Lya de Putti, and Werner Krauss. Distributed by Video Yesteryear and Discount Video Tapes Inc. 81 minutes.

Othello, United Artists, 1952. Film adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy directed by Orson Welles. The cast featured Welles as Othello, Michael Mac Liammoir as Iago, and Suzanne Cloutier as Desdemona 91 minutes.

Othello, BBC London, Time-Life Films, 1982. Television adaptation of Shakespeare's drama featuring Anthony Hopkins, Bob Hoskins, and Penelope Wilton. Distributed by Time-Life Video. 120 minutes.

Bibliography and Further Reading

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on June 18, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1334


Adamson, Jane. "Othello" as Tragedy: Some Problems of Judgment and Feeling. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980.

Booth, Stephen. "King Lear," "Othello": Indefinition and Tragedy. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1983.

Campell, Lily B. Shakespeare's Tragic Heroes: Slaves of Passion. Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1973.

Elliott, George Roy. Flaming Minister: A Study of "Othello" as a Tragedy of Love and Hate. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1953.

Erickson, Peter. Patriarchal Structures in Shakespeare's Drama. Berekely, CA: University of California Press, 1985.

Evans, Bertrand. Shakespeare's Tragic Practice. Oxford: Clarendon Press,1979.

Heilman, Robert B. Magic in the Web: Action and Language in Othello. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press, 1956.

Holloway, John. The Story of the Night: Studies in Shakespeare's Major Tragedies. Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 1961.

Kiefer, Frederick. Fortune and Elizabethan Tragedy. San Marino, CA: Huntington Library, 1983.

Kirsch, Arthur. The Passions of Shakespeare's Tragic Heroes. Charlottesville, Virginia: University Press, of Virginia, 1990.

McElroy, Bernard. Shakespeare's Mature Tragedies. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1973.

Muir, Kenneth. William Shakespeare: The Great Tragedies. London: Longmans, Green & Company, 1966.

Ogude, S.E. "Literature and Racism: The Example of Othello," in Othello: New...

(This entire section contains 1334 words.)

See This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this study guide. You'll also get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Essays by Black Writers. Ed. Mythili Kaul. Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1997, pp.151-166.

Othello. The Folger Library. Wright, Louis B. and Virginia A. Lamar, Eds. New York: Washington Square Press, 1957.

Ribner, Irving. Patterns in Shakespearian Tragedy. London: Methuen, 1960.

Shakespearean Criticism. Mark Scott, Ed. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research Company Book Tower, 1987.

Singh, Sarup. Family Relationships in Shakespeare and the Restoration Comedy of Manners. Dehli: Oxford University Press, 1983.

Speaight, Robert. Shakespeare on The Stage. Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown and Company, 1973.

Spivack, Bernard. Shakespeare and the Allegory of Evil. New York: Columbia University Press, 1958.

Sundelson, David. Shakespeare's Restoration of the Father. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1983.

Vaughn, Virginia Mason. Othello: A Contextual History. Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 1999.

Wilson, Harold S. On the Design of Shakespearian Tragedy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1957.

Further Study

Adamson, W. D. "Unpinned or Undone? Desdemona's Critics and the Problem of Sexual Innocence," in Shakespeare Studies XIII (1980): 169-86. Asserts that Shakespeare has drawn Desdemona as "legally innocent of adultery, morally innocent of idly considering it, and psychologically innocent of even being capable of it."

Auden, W. H. "The Joker in the Pack," in his The Dyer's Hand and Other Essays, pp. 246-72. New York: Random House, 1948. Compares Iago to a practical joker who himself has no personal feelings or values, but contemptuously uses the very real desires of other people to gull and manipulate them. Auden also claims that Othello prizes his marriage to Desdemona not for any great love he holds for her, but rather because it signals to him, mistakenly, that he has fully integrated into Venetian society.

Dash, Irene G. "A Woman Tamed: Othello," in her Wooing, Wedding, and Power: Women in Shakespeare's Plays, pp. 103-30. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981. Contends that Othello demonstrates "the cost to husband and wife … of attempting to conform to stereotyped ideals of marriage."

Gregson, J. M. "Othello," in his Public and Private Man in Shakespeare, pp. 156-76. London: Croom Helm, 1983. Maintains that the characters Othello and Hamlet are opposites, and argues that the true tragedy of Othello is the Moor's inability to separate his public conduct as military leader from his private judgments as husband.

Grudin, Robert. "Contrariety as Structure: The Later tragedies," in his Mighty Opposites: Shakespeare and Renaissance Contrariety, pp. 119-79. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979. Finds that Desdemona's "type of lamblike femininity" is compelling to Othello but not to Shakespeare and thus the dramatist demonstrates that her passive helplessness is implicitly ironic, for it "sharpens the impulse to aggression in others." The ambiguities of her virtue are comparable, Grudin maintains, to the complexities of Iago's wickedness.

Hallstead, R. N. "Idolatrous Love: A New Approach to Othello," in Shakespeare Quarterly XIX, No. 2 (Spring 1968): 107-24. Argues that after the consummation of Othello and Desdemona's marriage in Cyprus, the Moor's love for his wife becomes so excessive that it is theologically idolatrous. Asserting that Othello is a "morality play in a completely realistic framework," Hallstead contends that the Moor is shown renouncing Christianity when he swears a pagan vow with Iago at the close of Act III, scene iii, but the critic also discovers in the final scene of the drama a clear pattern of Christian penance, concluding that Shakespeare has portrayed the "return of Othello's Christianity."

Hyman, Stanley Edgar. Iago: Some Approaches to the Illusion of His Motivation. New York: Atheneum, 1970, 180 p. Assesses Iago's motives from five different critical perspectives, alternately questioning whether the ensign should be viewed as "a stage villain, or Satan, or an artist, or a latent homosexual, or a Machiavel." A pluralistic approach to this issue, Hyman argues, demonstrates the "tension, paradox, and irony" in Shakespeare's portrayal of Iago, while a single line of inquiry can only produce one perspective that is "inevitably reductive and partial."

Kott, Jan. "The Two Paradoxes of Othello," in his Shakespeare Our Contemporary, translated by Boleslaw Taborski, pp. 99-125. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1964. Maintains that the struggle between Othello and Iago is a dramatic representation of a "dispute on the nature of the world" and an enquiry into the purpose of human existence. Kott focuses specifically on two paradoxical events in the play: Iago's own victimization by the evil he himself sets in motion and Desdemona's delight in the erotic aspects of love, which leads Othello to believe her capable of betraying him.

Morris, Harry. "Othello: No Amount of Prayer Can Possibly Matter," in his Last Things in Shakespeare, pp. 76-114. Tallahassee: Florida State University Press, 1985. Interprets Othello as a Christian allegory about damnation.

Murry, John Middleton. "Desdemona's Handkerchief," in his Shakespeare, pp. 311-21. London: Jonathan Cape, 1936. Argues that Desdemona's loss of the handkerchief symbolizes the perfection of her love for Othello, for she became heedless of it only "when Othello was sick and her concern for the man she loved drove out all concern for the token of their love."

Neely, Carol Thomas. "Women and Men in Othello: 'What should such a fool / Do with so good a woman?'," in The Woman's Part Feminist Criticism of Shakespeare, pp. 211-39, edited by Carolyn Ruth Swift Lenz, Gayle Greene, and Carol Thomas Neely. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1980. Analysis of the kinship of the women in Othello and the heroines in Shakespeare's comedies which emphasizes their similar capacities to initiate courtship, tolerate men's fancies, and balance romantic idealism with a realistic view of sexuality.

Nelson, T. G. A. and Charles Haines, in "Othello's Unconsummated Marriage." Essays in Criticism XXXIII, No. 1 (January 1983): 1-18. Maintains that Othello's anger and passion in Acts III and IV is the result of his frustrated desire.

Rice, Julian C. "Desdemona Unpinned: Universal Guilt in Othello," in Shakespeare Studies VII (1974): 209-26. Argues that although Desdemona is apparently the most virtuous of women, she shares with Othello and all the other characters in the drama the frailties, imperfections, and moral vulnerability that are inherent in human nature. Rice maintains that Desdemona is partially responsible for her own murder through her "overconfidence in the power of virtue to triumph."

Rosenberg, Marvin. The Masks of Othello: The Search for the Identity of Othello, Iago, and Desdemona by Three Centuries of Actors and Critics. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1961,313 p. An overview of the interpretations of the drama's main characters by actors from the Restoration to the mid-twentieth century. Seeking to synthesize the commentary of literary critics with the interpretations offered by leading performers, Rosenberg emphasizes the essential humanity of the play's three central figures.

Sen Gupta, S. C. "Symbolism in Othello," in his Aspects of Shakespearian Tragedy, pp. 88-113. Calcutta: Oxford University Press, 1972. Asserts that Othello and Iago "represent the eternal conflict—both internal and external—between the forces of Love and Hate, of Good and Evil, and the realization that the conflict cannot be resolved is part of the tragedy of human life."

Wain, John, ed. Shakespeare: Othello. London: Macmillan, 1971, 244 p. A collection of essays by prominent critics on various topics concerning Othello.


Historical and Social Context