Let’s Discuss Othello/’Othello’

Comment on 10 of the following issues using short paragraph forms . Give textual evidence:

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  1. ‘Othello’ is a play of identities and conflicting ‘selves’.
  2. Audiences usually react with frustration and anger against Othello.
  3. Would Edward Said take Othello as an example for his talk about ‘orientalising the orient’? WHY?
  4. Do you agree with Coleridge’s claim that there is no ‘because’ about why Iago does what he does?
  5. How important is the issue of ‘otherness’ to the construction of the play?
  6. Othello comes from a story-shaped culture; he thinks and feels in stories.
  7. Othello’s culture can’t cope with both the European culture and Iago’s strategies.
  8. Othello is lost between a culture and a scientific culture.
  9. The speech that precedes his suicide is a tale that could woo almost anyone. It is the tension between Othello’s victimization at the hands of a foreign culture and his own willingness to torment himself that makes him a tragic figure rather than simply Iago’s ridiculous puppet.
  10. Critics and audiences alike find comfort and nobility in Othello’s final speech and the anecdote of the “malignant and . . . turbaned Turk” (V.ii.362), even though in that speech, as in his speech in Act III, scene iii, Othello depends on his identity as a soldier to glorify himself in the public’s memory,
  11. Why is ‘Othello’ Shakespeare’s most painful tragedy to watch?
  12. In ‘Othello’ we are pained by our inability to act. We know all the while that we who know enough to stop it, can’t.
  13. “If we laugh at Othello, are we endorsing the unaccountable evil of Iago?”
  14. “It is easy to feel sorry for Othello but almost impossible to admire him.” What do you make of this view?
  15. Describe the experience of the audience watching ‘Othello’. What theatrical resources/tools does Shakespeare employ to lead the audience to feel the way it does.
  16. Othello is not the kind of character who reflects on his experience. If he was, he’d have seen through the lies of Iago.
  17. The final speech is perhaps the most exotic speech of the play. What is it for? Is it a pathetic attempt to do the kind of thing that impressed Desdemona? Is it Othello being himself again, returning in imagination to the world he understands?
  18. In the final story, Othello is both the defender of Venice killing an enemy and, because he stabs himself, the enemy.
  19. Iago has more soliloquies than Othello
  20. Does Iago manage to take us into his confidence making us his passive accomplices?
  21. Why do some people share Iago’s viewpoints?
  22. why do some students admire Iago?
  23. Othello is so eloquent that it looks as if he is enjoying it.
  24. Is it easy to judge whether Othello is a hero or a fool, a noble or self-centred?

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