Othello

Othello The play’s protagonist and hero; Christian Moor and general of the armies of Venice- “The Moor of Venice”
Desdemona Daughter of Venetian senator Brabanzio and wife of Othello (the two are secretly married before the play begins)
Iago Othello’s ensign and the villain of the play (vice character), though his motivations for causing Othello’s downfall are never clearly expressed
Emilia Iago’s wife and Desdemona’s attendant; deeply attached to her mistress and distrustful of her husband
Cassio Othello’s lieutenant and a young and inexperienced soldier whose high position is resented by Iago; however after being implicated in a drunken brawl he loses his position.
Roderigo Jealous suitor of Desdemona; convinced if he gives Iago all of his money that Iago will help his chances with Desdemona. Frustrated by Othello and Desdemona’s marriage, he agrees to help Iago kill Cassio
Othello is the first… Jacobean play, written in 1604
Historical meaning of Moor A Muslim from the Iberian Penninsula- this technical definition does not describe Othello
Different portrayals of Othello Othello’s exact race has been debated over for centuries- Romantic writers agreed Othello was an Arab- often portrayed as exotic- he is NOT African-American- many of the famous actors to play Othello were white
“Other” A person not apart of the majority but who is defined by the majority- Othello is not from Venice and is treated as an Other
Facsimile An exact copy, especially of written or printed material
Transcription Written from the source
Source study Looking at the different sources for Shakespeare’s works
Digital humanities An area of scholarly activity at the intersection of computing and the disciplines of the humanities
Optical character recognition (OCR) The identification of printed characters using photoelectric devices and computer software
Montemayor’s Diana One of Shakespeare’s earliest sources for his plays
Miscegenation Interracial marriage/child/sex- this play brings up the fear of miscegenation- because Desdemona is with a black man, their sex is seen as “animalistic”
Color-blind casting Casting irregardless of race
Photonegative casting Reverse all races in roles
Edwin Forrest American Shakespeare actor, beloved by fans; performed Othello in 1826
Ira Aldridge Performed Othello in 1826 and again in 1860; groundbreaking because he was a black actor
20th and 21st century Shakespearean actors – David Tennant- Paul Robison- Ben Kingsley- Sir Patrick Stewart- Catherine Tate- Tom Hiddleston- Leonardo DiCaprio- Kenneth Branaugh
“Turk” in the early modern sense Muslim, heretic
Barbary In Morocco; word used to describe Othello
Black/white archetype White is seen as good; black is bad
What might be an explanation for Iago’s hatred for Othello? Everyone has an Italian name except Iago which is Spanish; might be an “Other”
Physiognomy A person’s facial features or expression, especially when regarded as indicative of a character or ethnic origin
In media res A narrative work opens in the midst of action; at the start of the play, Roderigo and Iago are outside Brabatio’s house at night planning to wake him up with the news that his daughter has been taken from him by Othello
Ocular proof Must be seen to be believed – Othello only trusts ocular proof
Willing suspension of disbelief A willingness to suspend one’s critical faculties and believe the unbelievable; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment
What actions does Iago take to wreak havoc on Othello? – Gets Cassio drunk- plays to each character’s weakness, especially Othello’s jealousy- handkerchief symbolizes Othello and Desdemona’s relationship, which is part of Othello’s weakness- plants seeds of doubt; convinces Desdemona to ask Othello for Cassio’s forgiveness
Soliloquey Extended speech when character is alone/thinks they are alone- Iago tries to manipulate audience as much as he tries to manipulate other characters
Intentional fallacy Basing an assessment of a work on the author’s intention rather than on one’s response to the actual work
Reader response A school of literary theory that focuses on the reader audience and their experience of a literary work, in contrast to other schools and theories that focus attention primarily on the author or the content and form of the work
Monologue Extended speech from one character to another
Diacope Repetition of two words close together
Antanaclasis A phrase or word is repeatedly used however the meaning of a word changes in each case
Iconoclasm The destruction of Catholic “icons”

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