Othello themes – LOYALTY & BETRAYAL

LINE OF ARGUMENT? Shakespeare uses the Venetian society to show the importance of loyalty as a trait and the devastating consequences of betrayal.
VENETIAN ATTITUDES? – Venetian attitudes to integrity/truth. – Strong military – why Othello doesn’t question Iago.
CONTEXT? – Role of early modern women. – Blind loyalty (loyalty without questions) – dangerous trait to have.
FOUR POINTS? – Use of asides and dramatic irony used to show Iago’s betrayal. – Shakespeare uses Desdemona and Emilia to explore the dangers of marital loyalty. – The use of the handkerchief. – Consequences of betrayal.
HAZZLITT “Iago….belongs to a class of character”.
IRONY WITH IAGO Audience aware of his evil plans – irony.
CONTRAST BETWEEN MALE AND FEMALE CHARACTERS Loyalty of female characters – couples dynamics. Contrast to the male characters. Male characters benefit from loyalty – however, not Iago at the end.
EVELYN GAJOWSKI “Reality of women” – “Held by men”.
HANDKERCHIEF REPRESENTATION Represents both loyalty and betrayal. Key signifier.
THOMAS RHYMER’S “Tragedy of the handkerchief”.
EMILIA ON JEALOUSY “Jealousy is a monster”.
CONSEQUENCES OF BETRAYAL – Iago and Emilia.- Desdemona and Othello. – Downfall and untimely deaths. – Structure and untimely deaths. – Structure and Shakespeare’s use of endings. – Cassio and Bianca.- Plot resolutions – some characters end before end.
HONIGMANN “Whether the men are capable of unselfish love”.

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