Othello Critics

Coleridge “Shakespeare had portrayed [Othello] the very opposite to a jealous man”
Rymer calls Othello a “jealous boob”
Kirschbaum Othello is “understandably human – but he is not greatly noble”
A C Bradley describes how Othello sees his murder of Desdemona as a sacrifice, “he is to save Desdemona from herself”
T S Eliot calls Othello’s final speech a “terrible exposure of human weakness”
Wilson Knight “Othello is dominated by its protagonist”
William Empson “Everybody calls Iago honest once or twice but with Othello it becomes an obsession”
Karen Newman “Othello is of course the play’s hero only within the terms of a white elitist male ethos”
Neville Coghill sees Iago as “powerfully possessed by hatred against a master who (as he thinks) has kept him down”
Helen Gardner descries how Iago displays “the desire to manipulate”
Sean McEvoy describes how “the audience become complicit in Iago’s intention”
Marian Cox puts forward the idea that we feel uncertain about the validity of the love between Othello and Desdemona
W H Auden Suggests Iago is motivated by the desire to know and show what Othello is really like
A C Bradley Suggests there is something lovable about Cassio, we trust him to never pervert the truth for the sake of doctrine or purpose of his own
A C Bradley puts forward the idea that Emilia nowhere shows any sign of having a bad heart
Matt Simpson suggests Emilia dies in the service of the truth
Matt Simpson suggests we have to acknowledge the fact that wives are required to be obedient to understand Emilia’s handing over of the handkerchief
Jarvis puts forward that Desdemona receives a wh0re’s death for all her innocence
Matt Simpson cites the fact that Bianca’s name translates as ‘white’ in Italian
Jardine suggests that all 3 women in the play are wrongfully accused of sexual misdemeanor in the course of the play
Matt Simpson says Iago is exposed as a shallow fool
Marian Cox argues that ‘lucky’ would be a more appropriate epitaph than ‘honest’ for Iago
Marian Cox suggests that Iago make his superiors his puppets
Blake says Iago publishes doubt and calls it knowledge
Warren suggests that Iago revels in his ability to destroy
Rymer puts forward the idea that Desdemona deserved her fate as maidens of quality should not run away with blackamoors
Matt Simpson argues that Othello allows Iago to replace Desdemona in his esteem and affection, and as his confidant and soulmate
A C Bradley suggests that Othello is by far the most romantic among Shakespeare’s heroes
Leavis argues that Othello is completely flawed
Ruth Cowhig suggests that Othello is an alien in a white society and a black villain in a white society
Loomba suggests that women and blacks exist as the ‘other’
A C Bradley “Desdemona is helplessly passive. She can do nothing whatever. She cannot retaliate even in speech; no, not even in silent feeling”
Sam Mendes “Desdemona made a very specific decision to marry this man… that makes her in some ways extremely strong, an active participant in the drama, rather than an insipid feeble girl.”
Abigail Rokison-Woodall describes Desdemona as “the ideal Renaissance woman, pious, modest, and obedient… the picture that is constructed is an idealised one… and yet, as soon as we see her, she proves herself to be assertive, sexually liberated and witty.”
Carol Thomas Neely “Desdemona’s spirit, clarity, and realism do not desert her entirely in the latter half of the play as many critics and performances imply.”
Coleridge “the motive-hunting of motiveless malignity”
Martin Wangh suggests that it is Iago’s repressed desire for Othello that is the real reason for his actions
Leavis suggests on Othello, “the stuff of which he is made begins… to deteriorate and show himself unfit.”
Coleridge Othello “must not be considered as a negro, but as a high and chivalrous Moorish chief”
Carol Thomas Neely describes Othello and Iago as “implicit in the other”
Kenneth Tyan “‘Not easily jealous’ is the most appalling bit of self-deception. He’s the most easily jealous man that anybody’s ever written about. The minute he suspects, or thinks he has the smallest grounds for suspecting, Desdemona, he wishes to think her guilty, he wishes to”
Karen Newman says Desdemona suffers “the conventional fate designed to desiring women”
Simon Wardle “A sole leader of Cyprus, Othello is a figure like a monarch or tyrant.”
Bonnie Greer calls Othello “a man with a beautiful soul”
Bonnie Greer “some people even that that Othello should be called Iago”
Bonnie Greer “Desdemona is a young, inexperienced girl, but she knows her own heart”
Bonnie Greer says Othello’s jealousy is the “trait of nature that undermines his life”
Neil Bowen “Othello is vital to the state, and in his warrior role he is self-assured and secure”
Neil Bowen “for Othello, if he is unable to govern Desdemona, he is unfit to govern Cyprus.”
Peter Bunten “Venice is therefore a less virtuous place than it may appear, which sets the keynote of the play.”
Frank Kermode Suggests Iago manages to reduce Othello’s language as well as his honour

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