“ Othello: New Essays by Black Writers.
Irene Dash's sociological approach to Othello in Wooing, Wedding, and Power: Women in Shakespeare(1981) marked an important moment in the history of the play's reception as, for the first time, it focused critical attention on its depiction of the potential destructiveness for women of the institution of marriage. According to Dash, Othello explores the tragic possibilities for married women trapped within a patriarchal system that condones their subjection and even their abuse. Desdemona experiences "a slow loss of confidence in the strength of the self, always with the aim of adjusting to marriage" (104), and thus her death must be laid at the door of a sexist system that celebrates compliance and self-abnegation in wives rather than mutual respect in marriage. A few years later, Carol Thomas Neely's Broken Nuptials in Shakespeare's Plays (1985), with its nuanced understanding of history and its attentiveness to the operations of power within patriarchy, helped feminist criticism develop a more robust account of the role of marriage in the social and dramatic construction of early modern women. Her reading of Othello locates the characters within an early modern moment that celebrates a newly emerging ideal of companionate marriage even as it continues to advocate for women's subservience to their husbands. Desdemona and Emilia become, on Neely's reading, the victims not of marriage but of male characters who view them through the opposing but mutually reinforcing cultural lenses of romantic idealization and anxious misogyny. The legacy of feminist scholarship committed to exploring both the historical and political dimensions of Othello continued throughout the 1990s in the work of critics such as Lisa Jardine, who reads the accusations of adultery levied against Desdemona within the context of defamation cases involving real early modern women, and in the 2000s by critics such as Sarah Munson Deats, who reads the play within the context of early modern debates between the religious doctrines of obedience and conscience.
“Blackness Made Visible.” Othello: New Critical Essays.
Othello Essay features Samuel Shakespeare Essays Othello Taylor Coleridge's famous critique based on his legendary and influential Shakespeare notes and lectures. Act i. sc. i.
The influence of psychoanalytic approaches to Shakespeare continued to be felt as feminist criticism and sexuality studies evolved throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and as Othello criticism began to consider the play's language, symbols, and characters in relation to such broader social institutions as marriage, religion, and law. In an oft-quoted 1975 article titled "Othello's Handkerchief: 'The Recognizance and Pledge of Love,'" for instance, Lynda Boose argues that the strawberry-spotted handkerchief given to Desdemona by her husband gathers a heavy symbolic burden in the course of the play as it comes to stand for that much larger expanse of fabric, the couple's wedding sheets, and thus for both "the sanctified union promising life and the tragic union culminating in death" (373). Similarly, Edward A. Snow's "Sexual Anxiety and the Male Order of Things in Othello" (1980) offers a symptomatic reading of Othello in which the "truth" (387) of its determination to expose a "pathological male animus toward sexuality" rooted in "the social institutions with which men keep women and the threat they pose at arm's length" (388) is both revealed and concealed by its theatrical and verbal discourses. Snow notes that the play's language and its "theatrical spectacle" (387) are marked by disavowal, denial, and introversion, and he calls on readers to "look for what resists dramatic foregrounding and listen for what language betrays about its speaker" (387), a process which reveals a world of sexual repression and misogyny in which the superego, the "voice of the father" upon which patriarchal social order is founded, is exposed as the site of "evil and malice" (410). Stephen Greenblatt's Renaissance Self-Fashioning (1980) also finds in Othello the operations of a patriarchy based in sexual repression and the subordination of women. Reading Desdemona's proud claim "my heart's subdued / Even to the utmost pleasure of my lord" as a "moment of erotic intensity," Greenblatt argues that her forthright display of sexual submission, rather than reassuring Othello of her fidelity, plays into Iago's slanderous account of her as adulterous because it appears to confirm her as a sensual and desirous woman instead of as the sexually reluctant but obedient wife that marriage manuals and church doctrine taught men to expect and to value (250). Coppélia Kahn also accounted men's expectations about women's lustful nature responsible for Desdemona's death in her analysis of the intensity of early modern anxiety about cuckoldry in 1981's Man's Estate, while Marianne Novy focused her psychological account of gender relations in Othello on the paradoxical subconscious fantasy of "fusion with a woman both maternal and virginal" (133) that she argues forms the basis of Othello's desire for Desdemona.
Othello Essays | GradeSaver - Study Guides & Essay …
Othello has always been a popular play with acting companies and audiences, and over the centuries it has occasioned considerable and varied response among scholars. While many critics have regarded it as one of Shakespeare's most successful plays, there have been vocal detractors, both early in the play's life and more recently. The flash point of critical controversy has most often been the race and social status of its title character, but significant debates have also arisen about the play's dramatic structure, its representation of women, and the powerfully disturbing figure of Iago. The following discussion sketches in broad strokes some of the most influential literary critical approaches to Othello, including character criticism, formalism, psychoanalysis, and a range of politically inflected approaches such as feminism and new historicism.
Othello in Shakespeare’s play Essay Example for Free
As early as the final decade of the seventeenth century, Othello was criticized for depicting a man of color as a tragic hero. Thomas Rymer (c. 1641-1713), whose A Short View of Tragedy appeared in 1693, is notable for providing the first major published criticism of the play, and also for the intensity of his dislike of Othello and its titular hero. Attacking the play as merely an unfortunate and implausible stage adaptation of the Italian prose tale from which its plot derives, Rymer argues that Othello ignores a number of key principles of dramatic composition, specifically the neoclassical prescription that a play ought to trace, in real time and a focused manner, the events of a single day in a single location. He saves his most virulent attacks, however, for what he presents as the play's violation of the conventions of a natural hierarchy that positions people of color firmly below white Europeans, and non-Christians below Christians. Discussing Othello's rank in the Venetian military, Rymer argues: