English 431B: Advanced Shakespeare

A survey of the works from the second half of William Shakespeare's career

Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012 notes

“Othello”

The way a Shakespearean play begins is important
This play begins with an argument
Roderigo is mad at Iago since he paid him to help him suit Desdemona
Act 1, Scene 1
Line 22
“Mere prattle without practice…”
ancient = ensign – standard bearer for military unit
succession of monosyllabic lines asks for actor to slow down lines, not smooth rhythm of iambic pentameter
Line 58 +
“For when my outward action doth demonstrate… I am not what I am.”
Iago’s character is a mystery to audience
Black ram (Othello, moor), white ewe
Line 138 +
“Call up all my people…”
Light is symbolic of knowledge
Venice is the hub of an empire
Line 157 +
“It is too true an evil…”
Scene 2
Othello’s speech
Line 16 +
“Let him do his spite…”
Word: know is important in script
The play is about knowledge
Line 38 +
“Something from Cyprus…”
Line 58 +
“Keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them.”
Mediterranean societies are linked by Islamic faith and were seen as a threat to Christianity
Scene 3
Line 60 +
“She is abused, stol’n from me, and corrupted…”
Line 76 +
“Most potent, grave, and reverend signiors…”
Brabantio’s description paints Desdemona as a very quiet, sheltered
Iago references animals frequently, why?
Virtue – root vir, which means man/manliness/power

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