William Shakespeare

June 9, 2006


Reputation of the greatest writer in the English language
Most quoted writer
Among the very few to excell in both comedy and tragedy
Transformed English theatre by expanding expectations about what could be accomplished through characterisation, plot, action, language, and genre
Questions about sexuality, religion, and credit to the correct identity

Othello (1603)

First known performance on November 1, 1604 at Whitehall Palace in London
Othello (a Moor) leaves Venice to command Venetian armies against the Turks of Cyprus, where Iago convinces Othello that his new wife, Desdemona, has been unfaithful with the lietenant Cassio; Othello kills Desdemona out of jealousy and then himself in grief
The plot for Othello was developed from a story in Cinthio‘s collection the Hecatommithi
The name of Othello’s wife, Desdemona, means “unfortunate” in Greek
Themes of race (white/black), nobility, signifier/signified, barbarism


Iago- Though I do hate him as I do hell pains, / Yet for necessity of present life, / I must show out a flag and sign of love..

Othello- My parts, my title and my perfect soul, / Shall manifest me rightly.

Roderigo- It is silliness to live when to live is torment; and then have we a prescription to die when death is our physician.

Iago- Make the Moor thank me, love me and reward me, / For making him egregiously an ass / And practising upon his peace and quiet / Even to madness.  ‘T is here, but yet confused: / Knavery’s plain face is never seen till used.

Iago- O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; / It is the green-eyed monster, which doth mock / The meat it feeds on: that cuckold lives in bliss / Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger; / But, O, what damned minutes tells her o’er / Who dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves!

Othello- Her name, that was as fresh / As Dian’s visage, is now begrimed and black / As mine own face.  If there be cords, or knives, / Poison, or fire, or suffocating streams, / I’ll not endure it.  Would I were satisfied!

Othello- O, that the slave had forty thousand lives! / One is too poor, too weak for my revenge. / Now do I see ‘t is true.  Look here, Iago; / All my fond love thus do I blow to heaven: / ‘T is gone. / Arise, black vengeance, from thy hollow cell! / Yield up, O love, thy crown and hearted throne / To tyrannous hate!  Swell, bosom, with thy fraught, / For ‘t is of aspics’ tongues!

Emilia- But jealous souls will not be answer’d so; / They are not ever jealous for the cause, / But jealous for they are jealous: ‘t is a monster / Begot upon itself, born on itself.

Othello- A horned man’s a monster and a beast.
Iago- There’s many a beast then in a populous city, / And many a civil monster.

Desdemona- …his unkindness may defeat my life, / But never taint my love.

Othello- It is the very error of the moon; / She comes more nearer earth than she was wont / And makes men mad.

Lodovico- O spartan dog, / More fell than anguish, hunger, or the sea! / Look on the tragic loading of this bed; / This is thy work: the object poisons sight; / Let it be hid. Gratiano, keep the house, / And seize upon the fortunes of the Moor, / For they succeed on you.  To you, lord governor, / Remains the censure of this hellish villain, / The time, the place, the torture: O, enforce it! / Myself will straight aboard, and to the state / This heavy act with heavy heart relate.



My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun; / Coral is far more red than her lips’ red; / If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun; / If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head. / I have seen roses damasked red and white, / But no such roses I see in her cheeks; / And in some perfumes is there more delight / Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks. / I love to hear her speak, yet well I know / That music hatch a far more pleasing sound; / I grant I never saw a goddess go: / My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground. / And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare / As any she, belied with false compare.

-My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing Like The Sun


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