OthelloBackground Notes
THE PLAYOthello Background
Basic Info• Othello unlike other Shakespeareantragedies• No secondary plot like his other tragedies• Villain (Iago) is res...
Writing of the PlayOthello: This play wasprobably written in1603 or 1604, a littlepast the middle ofShakespeares career(he...
PerformanceFirst recordedperformance tookplace in 1604 for KingJames I; RichardBurbage,Shakespeare’s partnerand fellow act...
Main CharactersOthello:Soldier from North Africa;Employed as a general bythe city-state of Venice;Highly respected, but st...
Main Characters, cont.DesdemonaBeautiful andaccomplished youngVenetian woman;Protected by her father;She stands for love, ...
Main Characters, cont.IagoSoldier who workswith Othello;Wants to be Othello’ssecond in commandbut is passed over forCassio...
Main Characters, cont.CassioGentleman soldier,Not much real experienceMan of ability, loyaltyand grace;Respects Desdemona ...
Static & Dynamic CharactersDynamic Character–Character changes frombeginning to endStatic Character –Character does not ch...
Static & Dynamic CharactersOthello is a strong example of aDYNAMIC CHARACTERCourageous Venetian soldierWell respectedHas r...
Static & Dynamic CharactersIago is a STATIC CHARACTERCorrupt characterHypocriticalEvilSelfishFocused throughout the play t...
FoilFOIL—character whohighlights or emphasizescertain traits of the maincharacter by contrastingthemEX: Emilia is the foil...
Conflicts, InternalOthello vs.HimselfDoesn’t wantto distrustDesdemonaInsecureabout hisqualities toenableDesdemonato love him
Conflicts, ExternalIago vs. OthelloIago hates Othelloand plots to bringabout his downfallIago vs. CassioIago is jealous of...
Irony – 3 TypesDramatic Irony:a contradiction between what a character thinksand what the reader or audience knows to betr...
ThemesDestructive nature ofJealousyIago jealous of Cassio’spositionOthello suspectingDesdemona’s unfaithfulnessImportance ...
ThemesAppearance Versus Reality“Honest Iago”Desdemona & CassioLoyalty Versus TreacheryThe ones Othello believesare treache...
MotifsMOTIFS—Majortopics related to themeAnimalsJealousySight and darknessThe handkerchiefMagicEvil and the devil
SettingAct IVeniceAct II –VCyprus16thCenturyEntire play coversonly a couple ofdays
Locations - VeniceA city-state of enormous mercantile wealth,(wealth from trade)Venice in Shakespeares time was a byword f...
Locations - CyprusIsland, near Turkey and Syria,was annexed by Venice in 1489 and conqueredby the Turks in 1571.
Terms & ConceptsMOOR.In Shakespeares time, equivalent to "African," withthe expectation that ,such a person would be black...
Brief History of the MoorsIn 711 Moors, who areMuslim, conquered Spainand ruled until 1492—QueenIsabella and King Ferdinan...
Elizabethan AttitudesPlay first performed in1604, when ChristianEuropean tolerance ofMuslims was greatlystrainedShakespear...
Othello’s Position & StatusProfessional soldier who,after much battlefieldexperience, is currentlyemployed by Venice asgen...
Military TermsANCIENTPronounced “en-sin”A military rank,properly of a standard-bearer (same word as"ensign").This is Iagos...
Military TermsLIEUTENANT.The rank which Cassio hasjust been given, literallymeaning "place-holder."Second in command toOth...
SHAKESPEAREAN TRAGEDYOthello Background
TragedyDrama in which themain charactersuffers a disasterafter a seriousstruggleFaces downfall in aheroic way
Tragic Hero1. Noble/influential person who2. Meets with destruction because:personal flaw (fatal flaw)Opposition of others...
Fatal FlawError, weakness, mistaken judgment ormisstep that causes the downfall of the heroAlso called hamartia from Greek...
Diagram: Tragic HeroSelf KnowledgeEnd of storyDisaster/Death/Loss of PowerSelf KnowledgePower, WealthBeginning of story
Elizabethan Tragic HeroesThe Elizabethan tragic herois much more oftenresponsible for his owndownfall rather than being av...
The Five-Part Dramatic StructureAct IIRising Action,Or ComplicationsAct IExposition, orIntroductionAct IIICrisis, or Turni...
SoliloquyCharacter’s innerthoughts (truthful)spoken aloudNo other characterspresent
AsideCharacter’s innerthoughts spoken aloudOther characters arepresentOther characterscannot hear the spokenthoughts (even...
Elizabethan TheaterLittle to no props usedMinimal sceneryRarely performed at nightLightingFemale Parts played byteenaged b...
Globe TheaterGalleriesAudience areacovered by a roof (3levels)YardAudience area w/ocovering or seating“Groundlings”hazelnuts
Globe Theater, cont.Pricing based oncomfort1 penny (week’swages forapprentice)5 pence – cushionedgallery seatNobilitygener...
Stage ViewsPlatform StageRaised stage thatprojects into theaudience
StageHeavensPictures of moon, stars,& zodiac painted onthe underside of thecanopy covering thestageHellUnder the stageUsed...
Tiring HouseThree-level inner stagearea (background)Inner stage: (study)1stfloorBalcony stage2ndfloorMusic Gallery3rdfloor...
Tiring House, Cont.ChamberCurtained area behindbalconyBay window stagesStages on the sides ofthe balcony stages
Shakespeare’s LanguageIambic PentameterMost common rhythm inEnglish poetryIamb: 2-syllable footFoot: unit of rhythm in poe...
Ways to Understand More EasilyWord OrderRead in sentencesDon’t break at ends oflinesArchaic LanguageWritten in 1599Footnot...
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  • Drama in which the main character suffers _____________ after a ___________________ Faces downfall in a _____________ way
  • Error, _______________, mistaken judgment or misstep that causes __________________ of the hero Also called _______________ from Greek Hero is not perfect & may make errors from _______________ _______________ _______________ _______________ _______________ (believes others too easily)
  • Othellobackgroundppt 110517115334-phpapp01

    1. 1. OthelloBackground Notes
    2. 2. THE PLAYOthello Background
    3. 3. Basic Info• Othello unlike other Shakespeareantragedies• No secondary plot like his other tragedies• Villain (Iago) is responsible for thedownfall of the tragic hero (Othello)• Ideas for this play taken from a collection oftales called Hecatommithi by GiraldiCinthio, published in Venice in 1566
    4. 4. Writing of the PlayOthello: This play wasprobably written in1603 or 1604, a littlepast the middle ofShakespeares career(he was 40).Performed at the royalcourtChristmas season of1604when commandperformances ofentertainments for theking and courtiers werecustomary.That means it hadprobably already beena success.
    5. 5. PerformanceFirst recordedperformance tookplace in 1604 for KingJames I; RichardBurbage,Shakespeare’s partnerand fellow actor,played Othello
    6. 6. Main CharactersOthello:Soldier from North Africa;Employed as a general bythe city-state of Venice;Highly respected, but stillan “outsider” because ofhis skin color;Marries Desdemona
    7. 7. Main Characters, cont.DesdemonaBeautiful andaccomplished youngVenetian woman;Protected by her father;She stands for love, trust,and purity—all thatmakes life meaningfuland worth living
    8. 8. Main Characters, cont.IagoSoldier who workswith Othello;Wants to be Othello’ssecond in commandbut is passed over forCassio;Seeks vicious revenge;Plots to destroy all thatOthello valuesEmiliaMaidservant to Desdemona;married to Iago;loyal to Desdemona, butwill tell lies if it will helpher husband
    9. 9. Main Characters, cont.CassioGentleman soldier,Not much real experienceMan of ability, loyaltyand grace;Respects Desdemona andOthello;Is NOT a love interest forDesdemona;Suffers from a drinkingproblemBrabantioFather of Desdemona;Venetian nobleman andsenatorRoderigoIn love with Desdemona;Listens to Iago’s plan toget Desdemona awayfrom Othello;A fool!
    10. 10. Static & Dynamic CharactersDynamic Character–Character changes frombeginning to endStatic Character –Character does not change
    11. 11. Static & Dynamic CharactersOthello is a strong example of aDYNAMIC CHARACTERCourageous Venetian soldierWell respectedHas reputation as man of honorHas vicious temperBecomes enraged with jealousy
    12. 12. Static & Dynamic CharactersIago is a STATIC CHARACTERCorrupt characterHypocriticalEvilSelfishFocused throughout the play to destroyOthello
    13. 13. FoilFOIL—character whohighlights or emphasizescertain traits of the maincharacter by contrastingthemEX: Emilia is the foil toDesdemonaEX: Cassio is the foil to Iago
    14. 14. Conflicts, InternalOthello vs.HimselfDoesn’t wantto distrustDesdemonaInsecureabout hisqualities toenableDesdemonato love him
    15. 15. Conflicts, ExternalIago vs. OthelloIago hates Othelloand plots to bringabout his downfallIago vs. CassioIago is jealous ofCassio, and worksto ruin his reputation, as well as separate him fromOthello’s friendship
    16. 16. Irony – 3 TypesDramatic Irony:a contradiction between what a character thinksand what the reader or audience knows to betrueSituational Irony:an event occurs that directly contradicts theexpectations of the characters, readers, oraudienceVerbal Irony:words are used to suggest the opposite of whatis meant (i.e. sarcasm, double-entendre, etc.)
    17. 17. ThemesDestructive nature ofJealousyIago jealous of Cassio’spositionOthello suspectingDesdemona’s unfaithfulnessImportance of Honor andReputationCassioDesdemonaBeing an outsiderPrejudice against OthelloSkin color– Black & White ImageryFrom Africa, not VeniceWarrior rather thancourtier and politicianUnfamiliar with societalconventionsDealt mainly with men andbattle, not women and love
    18. 18. ThemesAppearance Versus Reality“Honest Iago”Desdemona & CassioLoyalty Versus TreacheryThe ones Othello believesare treacherous are actuallyloyalCassioDesdemonaRole of EmiliaWith her husbandWith Desdemona
    19. 19. MotifsMOTIFS—Majortopics related to themeAnimalsJealousySight and darknessThe handkerchiefMagicEvil and the devil
    20. 20. SettingAct IVeniceAct II –VCyprus16thCenturyEntire play coversonly a couple ofdays
    21. 21. Locations - VeniceA city-state of enormous mercantile wealth,(wealth from trade)Venice in Shakespeares time was a byword forluxury and culture and was also famous for itsJudicial systemIts trade was partially choked off by the growingpower of the Turkish empire in the 16th century,which extended into Europe as well as Asia andArabia. Hence the importance of Cyprus.
    22. 22. Locations - CyprusIsland, near Turkey and Syria,was annexed by Venice in 1489 and conqueredby the Turks in 1571.
    23. 23. Terms & ConceptsMOOR.In Shakespeares time, equivalent to "African," withthe expectation that ,such a person would be black.This was not a negative or derogatory word.Originally, it meant "native of Mauretania," a countryin north Africa (present day Morocco), but its meaninghad become generalized by the 17th century.OTTOMAN, OTTOMITES.These terms (I.3.49, 11.3.170) refer to the Turks.
    24. 24. Brief History of the MoorsIn 711 Moors, who areMuslim, conquered Spainand ruled until 1492—QueenIsabella and King Ferdinandtook over and broughtChristianity to SpainMoors forced to leave Spainor become Christian; manyleft the country and becameGypsies in Europe andpirates in the seas nearEurope, Asia & Africa
    25. 25. Elizabethan AttitudesPlay first performed in1604, when ChristianEuropean tolerance ofMuslims was greatlystrainedShakespeare createdthe character ofOthello as a tragichero, not a villain
    26. 26. Othello’s Position & StatusProfessional soldier who,after much battlefieldexperience, is currentlyemployed by Venice asgeneral of its forces.He is called "General" or,sometimes, "Captain."He holds a high position andis greatly respected.
    27. 27. Military TermsANCIENTPronounced “en-sin”A military rank,properly of a standard-bearer (same word as"ensign").This is Iagos rank,which he resents. He isthird in command toOthello, behind Cassio.
    28. 28. Military TermsLIEUTENANT.The rank which Cassio hasjust been given, literallymeaning "place-holder."Second in command toOthello, he holds Othellosplace in his absence.Ironically, Othello comes tobelieve that Cassio holdsOthellos place inDesdemonas affections.Even more ironically, the playends with Cassio literally putinto Othellos place asgovernor of Cyprus.
    29. 29. SHAKESPEAREAN TRAGEDYOthello Background
    30. 30. TragedyDrama in which themain charactersuffers a disasterafter a seriousstruggleFaces downfall in aheroic way
    31. 31. Tragic Hero1. Noble/influential person who2. Meets with destruction because:personal flaw (fatal flaw)Opposition of othersOthello fits this description3. Harsh punishment (arouses pity in audience)4. Character gains self-knowledge5. Catharsis resulting in compassionCatharsis = cleansing or release of tense emotions
    32. 32. Fatal FlawError, weakness, mistaken judgment ormisstep that causes the downfall of the heroAlso called hamartia from GreekHero is not perfect & may make errors fromAmbitionIgnorancePrideJealousyGullibility (believes others too easily)
    33. 33. Diagram: Tragic HeroSelf KnowledgeEnd of storyDisaster/Death/Loss of PowerSelf KnowledgePower, WealthBeginning of story
    34. 34. Elizabethan Tragic HeroesThe Elizabethan tragic herois much more oftenresponsible for his owndownfall rather than being avictim of fateEmphasizes the “waste ofhuman potential”Othello is the tragic hero
    35. 35. The Five-Part Dramatic StructureAct IIRising Action,Or ComplicationsAct IExposition, orIntroductionAct IIICrisis, or TurningPointAct IVFallingActionAct VResolution, orDenouement
    36. 36. SoliloquyCharacter’s innerthoughts (truthful)spoken aloudNo other characterspresent
    37. 37. AsideCharacter’s innerthoughts spoken aloudOther characters arepresentOther characterscannot hear the spokenthoughts (even thoughthe actors can)
    38. 38. Elizabethan TheaterLittle to no props usedMinimal sceneryRarely performed at nightLightingFemale Parts played byteenaged boysAgainst the law for womento actActors not respectedOne step above beggars
    39. 39. Globe TheaterGalleriesAudience areacovered by a roof (3levels)YardAudience area w/ocovering or seating“Groundlings”hazelnuts
    40. 40. Globe Theater, cont.Pricing based oncomfort1 penny (week’swages forapprentice)5 pence – cushionedgallery seatNobilitygenerally hadprivateperformances at
    41. 41. Stage ViewsPlatform StageRaised stage thatprojects into theaudience
    42. 42. StageHeavensPictures of moon, stars,& zodiac painted onthe underside of thecanopy covering thestageHellUnder the stageUsed for prop storageTrap door entrance tomain stage
    43. 43. Tiring HouseThree-level inner stagearea (background)Inner stage: (study)1stfloorBalcony stage2ndfloorMusic Gallery3rdfloorAlso used as a stage
    44. 44. Tiring House, Cont.ChamberCurtained area behindbalconyBay window stagesStages on the sides ofthe balcony stages
    45. 45. Shakespeare’s LanguageIambic PentameterMost common rhythm inEnglish poetryIamb: 2-syllable footFoot: unit of rhythm in poetryand dramaUnstressed, stressedI.e. today = to DAYPentameter: five foot lineBlank verse: unrhymedIambic Pentameter
    46. 46. Ways to Understand More EasilyWord OrderRead in sentencesDon’t break at ends oflinesArchaic LanguageWritten in 1599FootnotesOverall senseDon’t worry aboutevery single wordContractions

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