Othello

Title Othello
Author William Shakespeare
Genre Tragedy
Setting The play starts in Venice and moves to Cyprus when the Turks invade.
Characters & Brief Desciption -Othello: is the first great black protagonist in Western literature, and still one of the most famous. The play dramatizes this hero’s fall from grace – Othello begins as a noble guy (he’s a celebrated and respected war hero, a loving husband, and an eloquent storyteller) but, by the end of the play, Othello has become an irrational, violent, and insanely jealous husband who murders his own wife after Iago convinces him that Desdemona has been unfaithful.-Iago :is one of the most notorious and mysterious villains of all time. He spends all of his time plotting against Othello and Desdemona, eventually convincing Othello that his wife has been cheating, despite the fact that Desdemona has been completely faithful. Iago’s capacity for cruelty seems limitless, and no motivation he gives for his actions seems enough to explain the incredible destruction he wreaks on the lives of the people he knows best.-Desdemona: is a beautiful, young, white, Venetian debutante, her father’s pride and joy. But she refuses to marry any of the rich, handsome Venetian men that everyone expects her to marry. Instead, she elopes with Othello – an older black man, an outsider to Venetian society. Turns out, this is a pretty gutsy move – Desdemona not only defies her father’s expectations (that she marry a white man of his choosing), she also thumbs her nose at a society that largely disapproves of interracial marriages. In this way, Desdemona’s relationship with Othello speaks to the play’s concerns with sixteenth century attitudes about sex, gender, and race, which we discuss in more detail in our “Themes” section.-Emilia:Older and more cynical than Desdemona, Emilia develops a close relationship with the young married woman. Emilia and Desdemona bond over husband trouble: Emilia’s bitter take on her married life with Iago contrasts with Desdemona’s (temporarily) idealistic marriage to Othello.-Cassio: When we begin, Cassio is one of Othello’s soldiers, and is recently appointed the general’s second-in-command. This infuriates Iago, as he wanted to be lieutenant, and Cassio is a math (not muscle) guy, so Iago cannot understand this appointment.- Roderigo: is a rich, unintelligent guy who thinks that if he sends Desdemona enough expensive presents, she’ll fall in love with him. He’s hired Iago to be his wingman, but Iago basically uses him as a walking ATM. Iago takes the jewelry Roderigo thinks he’s giving to Desdemona and sells it for a profit. All Roderigo does in response is to fall for Iago’s smooth talking again and again. In the end, Roderigo dies – stabbed in the back, appropriately enough, by his wingman, Iago.-Brabantio:Desdemona’s father, Brabantio, is a rich and important Venetian politician. He likes Othello and invites him to visit his house a lot — but he never expected Othello “to steal” his daughter. Further, he never believed his little girl would marry Othello unless she was drugged or under some kind of spell.-Bianca: prostitute in Cyprus, her favorite customer is Cassio.
Point of View Iago’s voice
Symbols/Images The HandkerchiefThe handkerchief symbolizes different things to different characters. Since the handkerchief was the first gift Desdemona received from Othello, she keeps it about her constantly as a symbol of Othello’s love. Iago manipulates the handkerchief so that Othello comes to see it as a symbol of Desdemona herself—her faith and chastity. By taking possession of it, he is able to convert it into evidence of her infidelity. But the handkerchief’s importance to Iago and Desdemona derives from its importance to Othello himself. He tells Desdemona that it was woven by a 200-year-old sibyl, or female prophet, using silk from sacred worms and dye extracted from the hearts of mummified virgins. Othello claims that his mother used it to keep his father faithful to her, so, to him, the handkerchief represents marital fidelity. The pattern of strawberries (dyed with virgins’ blood) on a white background strongly suggests the bloodstains left on the sheets on a virgin’s wedding night, so the handkerchief implicitly suggests a guarantee of virginity as well as fidelity.The Song “Willow”As she prepares for bed in Act V, Desdemona sings a song about a woman who is betrayed by her lover. She was taught the song by her mother’s maid, Barbary, who suffered a misfortune similar to that of the woman in the song; she even died singing “Willow.” The song’s lyrics suggest that both men and women are unfaithful to one another. To Desdemona, the song seems to represent a melancholy and resigned acceptance of her alienation from Othello’s affections, and singing it leads her to question Emilia about the nature and practice of infidelity.
Narrative Techiques – Monologue -Soliloquy -Irony
Description and Significance of Opening Scene & Closing Scene -During the first seen of the book, Iago and Roderigo cause drama outside Brabanzio’s house. They shout that Desdemona is with Othello which causes the father and Othello to become aggravated. -The last scene takes place in the Island of Cyprus at Othello and Desdemona’s home. Othello discovers the rumor that Desdemona had been cheating on him & he ends up killing her. Minutes later Emilia ends up dying as well. Such deaths cause Othello to lose his position.
Plot Details In the novel, Iago spreads rumors about desdemona, trying to break apart Othello and Desdemona. Iago as well tries to twisted everyone words to go against each other.

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