Othello - Livre Or Die

January 23, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Arts & Humanities, Performing Arts, Drama
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{ Othello } The Beginning of the End The drama in Act V

I have to confess that I don’t very much enjoy Othello as a play. I would not want to go and watch it every night of the week because it is much too harrowing and too intense…The human relationships and emotions that it describes seem to me very immediate, very timeless. Susan Hill, novelist and radio playwright How and why does the play evoke such reactions?


Dramatic Effect & Presentation

1. How is the scene presented?

2. What is the effect of the scene on your thoughts and feelings as you read it/see it performed?

3. How is your reaction relevant to the rest of the play?



How is the scene presented?

Through “Dramatic Effects” i.e. Things which happen on stage which grab your attention and evoke reactions

 Lighting

 Music

 Staging

 Texture of the

 Costume  Actor’s appearances  Gesture and action




Act 5, Scene 1


 Setting: Cyprus, A street

 A public place in which a bloody murder attempt is

about to occur  The collision of the private and public worlds of

Othello  The very streets that Othello is supposed to govern has

now become the backdrop for a murder that he has ‘commissioned’ because of his apparent personal tragedy


Act 5 Scene 1


Cassio: O help, ho! Light! A surgeon!

Lodovico: Two or three groan. It is a heavy night. Gratiano: Here’s one comes in his shirt, with light and weapons. Iago: Kill men i’th’dark? Where be these bloody thieves?


Setting & Atmosphere


 Set in darkness  The action and busy movement of this scene contrasts

and picks up the pace from the quiet passivity of previous ‘Willow’ scene i.e. Scene 3, of Act 4  Noise, confusion, rapid movement, murder

 Begins with conspiratorial whispering; and ends with a

brutal murder


Dramatic Effect

 Sense of foreboding from Act 4 develops

 Fearful for Cassio, trepidation at what is to

happen  Anticipation and anxiety at whether Iago

manages to deceive Gratiano and Lodovico



Relevance to the rest of the play?

Plot — deliberate sequence of events bound up to form the structure

 The darkest point of Iago’s


 Darkness is symbolic of the

moral tone

 But also the beginning of


 Both discernment and



Lodovico:  “These may be counterfeits.

Let’s think it unsafe

to come in to the cry without more help.”  [Othello’s ancient]…a very

valiant fellow.


Act 5 Scene 1


Othello: ‘Tis he! – O brave Iago, honest and just, That hast such noble sense of thy friend’s wrong! Thou teachest me. Minion, your dear lies dead, And your unblest fate hiest. Strumpet, I come. Forth of my heart those charms, thine eyes, are blotted; Thy bed, lust-stain’d shall with lust’s blood be spotted.

Dramatic Language How does Shakespeare linguistically characterize his tragic hero, Othello? Often speaks in poetic verse that is hyperbolic (i.e. language that is deliberately extravagant for dramatic effect) “Not I; I must be found. / My parts, my title, and my perfect soul / Shall manifest me rightly.” (Act 1 Sc 2, p.17)

Tragic fall of Othello dramatised through verbal mutation – note changes in tone “Not I; I must be found. / My parts, my title, and my perfect soul / Shall manifest me rightly.” (Act 1 Sc 2, p.17) “O, blood, blood, blood!” (Act 3 Sc 3, p.143) “I will chop her into messes. Cuckold me!” (Act 4 Sc 1, p.185) “Roast me in sulphur. / Wash me in steep-down gulfs of liquid fire. / O Desdemona! Desdemona! Dead!” (Act 5 Sc 2, p.249)

“Then must you speak / Of one that loved not wisely, but too well; / Of one, not easily jealous, but being wrought / Perplexed in the extreme” (Act 5 Sc 2, p. 253)




A black / white opposition at all levels: Poetically— through language used Morally; religiously Culturally; ethnically

Symbolically linked to: Heaven and Hell, Love and Hate



Movement and Positioning

’Tis he! O brave Iago, honest and just,

That hast such noble sense of thy friend’s wrong, Thou teachest me... Strumpet, I come. Forth of my heart those charms, thine eyes, are blotted: They bed lust-stained shall with lust’s blood be spotted.

[Exit Othello] Brief entrance Serves as a painful reminder that Othello is a party in the treachery.



Significance to the play

Character Development  His direct involvement in the attempted murder.

 Reiterates his moral depravity.  The brief moment on stage crystallizes the fall of the

tragic hero.




Cassio: That thrust had been mine enemy indeed,

But that my coat is better than thou know’st. I will make proof of thine.  The revelation of this detail provides a sense of relief.  Cassio is protected (and armed).


Significance to the play


Thematic Concerns  Fate/coincidences are no longer in Iago’s favour.

 Is fate malignantly toying man?  Or has it been independent of Iago’s schemes all along?  Is fate a cause of the tragedy?


{Gesture and Action}

Who’s there? Whose noise is this that cries on murder? Did not you hear a cry? What’s the matter? [about Bianca] Look you pale, mistress? Do you perceive the gastness of her eye?... Nay, guiltiness will speak

Though tongues were out of use.

{Significance to the play } Dramatic Structure/Conventions  Clearly feigning ignorance and concern.  His recurring trickery frustrates and infuriates the audience.  However, in Act 5, he no longer has full mastery over the situation

even though

“This is the night That either makes me, or fordoes me quite.”

(Act 5, Scene 1, 129-130)  Order is slowly restored in the play.  Elizabethan dramatic convention




 Framing/Symmetry within the play  Echoes of events/language/behaviour

Dramatic Structure—Identifying the Patterns Act I

Act II


Mostly public scenes involving men Othello’s public role as general  highly reputed, regarded and desired Chaos is mediated through social institutions and order

Act V

Moves towards resolution of the tragedy Temptation scene

Introduces characters and central conflict

Act IV

Significant number of private scenes involving women Crumbling of Othello’s private then public identities

Chaos takes centre-stage – overturning of social and moral order



Parallels between ‘Fight scenes’

 Othello’s few moments at the scene of Cassio’s injury take

the mind of the audience back to his intervention—  In the brawl that led to Cassio’s dismissal in Act 2, Scene 3

{ Character Developments} Act 2, Scene 2  A majestic, authoritative figure

Act 5, Scene 1  A thief in the night, degraded

to a mere conspirator  Lording it over everybody and

 Remaining concealed from

 Sonorous, grand use of

 Strident, contemptible words

everything around him by virtue of his mere presence

language speech

view while he relishes Iago’s treacherous attempt on Cassio’s life

{Texture of language} Act 2, Scene 3 Why, how now, ho! From whence ariseth this? Are we turned Turks, and to ourselves do that Which heaven hath forbid the Ottomites?

Act 5, Scene 1 … Minion, your dear lies dead,

And your unblest fate hies.



What words critically stand out?

Othello: ‘Tis he! O brave Iago, honest and just, That hast such noble sense of thy friend’s

wrong, // Thou TEACHEST me.

Irony Iago was not brave, but lurking in the background, ordering Roderigo


Pace and Character Development


 Cumulative listing of Iago’s attributes  Rapid and horrifying chain of events—shocking

 Pace—Heightens dramatic irony, intensifying dramatic

tension, makes the play riveting  Also, a great sense of pathos—sympathy and sorrow at

Othello’s now perverted and debased mind  Where good values have been transformed into bad,

where evil now seems right



Iago and ironic comedy

 In Iago’s question to Cassio:

O my lieutenant, what villains have done this?  Touch of ironic comedy  Audience members can imagine the satisfaction the use of the

word ‘lieutenant’ must give Iago in this context.  Resurfaces the issue of Iago’s malicious malignancy and his

original intent

{Iago’s concluding Aside} This is the night That either makes me, or fordoes me quite  Prompting the audience to think back to Iago’s initial words

to Roderigo (now dead) at the beginning of this scene:

It makes us, or it mars us; think on that… What will be Iago’s fate?

{Asides and Soliloquies}  Dramatic conventions/license  Moments of introspection—we are to assume that the character

is speaking to himself  NOT intended for the audience in Jacobean conventions (but

modern interpretations read into the self-consciousness)

{ Relevance to the play }  Iago’s aside gives us privy to his thoughts

 Shows awareness of him scheming and being aware of

the consequences  Dawns upon us that Iago is fallible  Iago becomes more developed as a character, no longer

just evil personified but a fallen man, much like Othello.

{ All Drama is Conflict.} Conflict:

Opposition between characters or forces in a work of drama or fiction, especially opposition that motivates or shapes the action of the plot.

Characterization is part of the coherent realisation of the text and its themes.

{Discussing Character and Conflict }

Within a character Iago’s malignancy and moments of moral consciousness

Between characters Power play between Iago and Othello/ Roderigo

Between individuals and society Men and women, and their place in society

Between greater powers Fate and free will

{Relationships}  How are relationships between characters presented to

the audience?  How do there relationships shed light on the issues of

the Individual and Society?  Consider relationships between male characters and

female ones

{Othello’s Suicide}  Consider Othello’s suicide: final and ultimate act of

exclusion from society and the society at large  Filled with pathos and tragic poignancy at this inability

to assimilate completely into the Venetian society and as his role as a husband

{ In conclusion…} Act 5, Scene 1  Darkness broken by moving lights  Confused and rapid action  Agitated questioning and discussion  A dramatic effect—It contrasts with the eerie quietness

that will shroud the beginning of Act 5, Scene 2

{ Take-aways }  Key concerns and dramatic features of Act 5, Scene 1

 Elements of dramatic presentation  How to respond to questions pertaining to dramatic



In the Context of The Individual and the Society

Important Considerations  The society in the dramatic world of Othello Characteristics of the Venetian society Social expectations Stereotypes Roles & expectations of the society on various individuals – men/women, soldiers, wives  Social strata/ social hierarchy    

Important Considerations

 The individual in the society      

Who are these individuals? Othello – main protagonist Iago – central antagonist Desdemona, Bianca, Emilia – women in the play Cassio Roderigo

 What is the nature of  the interaction between the individual and the Venetian society  the relationship between individual and the society, and its significance?

 What is the nature of conflicts between individual and his/her environment?

 What are the influencing factors, the nature of the resolution, the outcomes and the significance of the dramatic presentation?

 How does the individual’s identity, role, purpose and place in society become defined and developed?

 What limitations and/or possibilities does the individual face?  To what extent does society influence these limitations and possibilities or opportunities?  To what extent are these influenced by the individual’s decisions?

 To what extent and in what ways does the individual shape society, and vice versa?  Does the individual transcend society?

Relationship between the Individual and Society The Individual -Displacement & Rootedness -Isolation & Assimilation -Duty & Desire -Conformity & Difference -Otherness

Relationship between the Individual and Society The Society

-Societal expectations & roles -Shapes and defines the individual with the following:

Expectations of Paper Demonstrate understanding of these concepts through showing how dramatic techniques present the individual, the society and/or their relationship.

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