Italian source (usurpation of mind) What hasn’t it told us? What is Shakespeare asking us to
question? Why was Othello/Desdemona’s wedding secret? When did it happen? Witchcraft because
he is a Moor (Middle East), dark skinned. Exotic nature of him and his experiences take Desdemona
in. condescending? Amusing? Fascinating?
Theme: interest in the exotic. Iago thinks of Othello as inferior—pornographic mind—Iago thinks
Othello slept with his wife—doesn’t know if it is true, but wants to ruin him, warrior Moor
“Never tell me” don’t tell me something that’s true, and don’t tell me something I don’t want to
know. Othello doesn’t want to be told that he illegitimately seduced or charmed Desdemona into
being his wife. Roderigo doesn’t want to hear that Othello and Desdemona married. Desdemona
doesn’t want to hear that she can’t be with Othello. Theme: what people want to be told (rumor vs.
reality). Rumor is everywhere, influences how people act (Iago stages scenes).
Othello general, mercenary sent to take care of trouble. Moor not part of culture.
Hamlet not carry over to Othello? Jealousy as human capability important, more complicated than
just a reaction, handkerchief with Othello, Uncle in Hamlet jealous of brother, higher form of
jealous—more desperate, facet of Iago’s motives, Iago wants to uncover Othello’s jealousy. Claudius
has a sense of guilt, Iago has no moral standard. Sociopath. Right from the start Iago was passed
over for lieutenant by Othello—Othello planted seed for his discontent—Iago much more intelligent
than Cassio (easily tricked)—Othello trusts Iago(everyone calls him honest) so there is no reason
for him not to be promoted. Othello’s decision is right in promoting Cassio—not as dangerous, loyal,
earnest in owning up to his mistakes (can’t admit it makes you a problem)—Iago.
The less comfortable the hero category, the better the writer.
Hamlet doesn’t commit suicide even though he is unhappy. Gets to the bottom of Denmark’s
problem—reaction to Ophelia—reconciliation with mother—spurs him into action when she is
knowingly poisoned. Has argument for Polonius’ death, spying on terms of illegitimate King—
Ophelia losing sanity—Hamlet’s breakdown.
Four people want something from Desdemona: web of intrigue around her—causes what happens