Desdemona: Paragon of Virtue “I am a child to childing”.”So would not I my love doth so approve him… even in his stubbornness” – stereotype paragon virtue.Desdemona’s corpse “cold like thy chastity”. Feminine virtue = DEAD woman?A.C. Bradley: “Helplessly passive”Critics: “Her overconfidence in the power of virtue and triumph”
Othello’s “Reputation” Venice in state of peril, Othello “hotly call’d for” by officials. Contrast of opposing warfares: love and war”Noble Moor” – Iago unreliable narrator.
Language as a weapon Iago: “Pestillence”, “virtue into pitch” (tragic hero fall from grace), “Ha! I like not that.” “Work on, my medicine, work!”Brabantio->Othello: “Thou hast enchanted her” – Othello’s “witchcraft” – Othello’s “spells” are his stories. Brabantio describes Desdemona as “enchanted” by Othello and in “chains of magic” – link Iago entrapping Othello in state of mental illness/epilepsy. Othello infuses handkerchief with magic.Othello>Des: “This hand is moist” – double meaning promiscuity/youthIago: “Work on, my med’cine, work”Monica Robinson: “The Moor of Venice is not only a valiant warrior, but also a man who knows the power of words.” Compare with Othello at start: “Rude am I in my speech”
Women as a posession Brabantio: “O thou foul thief, where hast thou stow’d my daughter?”Othello (at end): “threw a pearl away”… “richer than all his tribe”
The Ocular Proofs Othello->Des: “This hand is moist” – symbol of youth and promiscuity. “Hot, hot and moist” – conflicted meanings. Othello’s poisoned mindset. Desdemona two people in mind.Handkerchief: “There’s magic in the web of it” infused with power.
Emilia and Lodovico’s restoration of order Emilia: “The Moor’s abused by some most villanous knave” – candor, allows audience to make judgement on Othello.Lod: represents Venecian state authority. Provides judgement. Calls Iago a “Spartan dog”. Restores Tillyard’s idea of “The Great Chain of Being”
Minor characters: comedy The Clown: “I know not where he lodges… to devise a lodging… were to lie in mine own throat” – microcosm of entire play. Duplicity language. Toys w/ meaning of word “Lie” – the reason Iago’s poison can take effect. This foreshadows an upcoming scene where Iago’s pestilence is doing its work – Othello: “Lie with her? Lie on her… Zounds!” straight before “Lie with her? Lie on her… Zounds!”Roderigo – supporting antagonist? Hilariously idiotic. “Put money in thy purse”. FOIL FOR OTHELLO – ease of manipulation. Lovesick fools. Willing to sacrifice for Des. Both men made foolish by love.
Othello’s tragic flaw Iago: “Virtue? ‘Tis a fig” “This honest fool”Emilia: “Dull Moor”, “The Green-eyed monster” that takes overHarold Bloom: “Othello’s tragedy is… that Iago knows him better than the Moor knows himself” – Othello a war hero. But not trained for social warfare.
Iago’s personality “Our bodies are gardens, to which our wills are gardeners” – sees virtue as weakness. Psychopathic to modern audience.Coleridge: “Motiveless malignity” – “Virtue? A fig”Auden: calls Iago the “practical joker” who performs experiments.
Restoration of order/harmony in Othello’s sacrifice “I do love thee; and when I love thee not chaos is come again”. “I will kill thee, and love thee after” – memory of ‘sinful’ Des dies with her. Sacrificial. Restore ‘ordered’ paragon of virtue.AC Bradley: “The deed… was no murder, but a sacrifice”.
Bianca A prostitute in love with Cassio. Foil to the perfected virgin, Desdemona.
Emilia a foil for Desdemona Emilia: “Whou would not make her husband a cuckold to make him a monarch?” Power-hungry. Desdemona: “So would not I my love doth so approve him… even in his stubbornness”Emilia: “I would you had never seen him” – pragmatic, her candour.Emilia: “Let husbands know their wives have sense like them; they see and smell… have we not affections… as men have?”Critics: Emilia died because she was “unfaithful mentally” not sexually.
Race Iago: hitting upon Othello’s insecurity as he’s married the perfect Venetian wife. “She did deceive her father, marrying you;””In Venice they do not let God see the pranks they dare not show their husbands;”
Inevitability/fate Brabantio to Othello: “She has decieved her father, and may thee.” (She will betray you too, Othello)