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Othello and Desdemona’s romance

Before the audience meets Desdemona, it learns a few key things about her: she spends her time doing household chores, she pities and loves Othello for his bravery and for …

Introducing ‘the Moor’

Below are two extracts that present different views on the representation and meaning of Othello as a Moor. The first is taken from Jonathan Bate’s introduction to the RSC edition …

The jealous husband

The figure of the jealous husband was a common one in Early Modern drama, particularly in comedies. Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing (1598), The Merry Wives of Windsor (1597) and …

The handkerchief

Othello takes the audiences from a public into a private world, making the tragedy centre on domestic rather than state affairs. Ultimately, we could argue that a handkerchief makes Othello …

Feminist readings

It’s not only critics, but also a number of feminist playwrights who have responded to Desdemona’s character. Feminist adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays came to prominence in the late 20th century …

Shakespeare’s sources

The main source for Othello is a short story, ‘the seventh novella in the third decade’, of Giraldi Cinthio’s Hecatommithi of 1565/6. Explore this translation of Cinthio’s Hecatommithi. You can …

Across productions

In the last video you heard from the actors playing Desdemona and Emilia in the RSC’s 2015 production of the play. You might want to extend your research by looking …

Race in the records

When writing about ‘race’ in Othello, academics will often talk about a number of documents from Shakespeare’s period, which are thought to offer insights into the views of the time. …

Othello’s visage

If the way in which Othello is spoken about before his first appearance on stage is important, then the same is true for Desdemona. Shakespeare chooses his characters’ words carefully …

Second thoughts about Othello

In Shakespeare’s time Londoners would have discovered that a new play was going to be performed by reading a playbill attached to a post in the district near to the …

Playing with Act 5 Scene 2

In this video you will see the RSC 2015 acting company working on Act 5 Scene 2 with director Iqbal Khan, discussing the scene. As you watch consider: What the …

Performing Act 5 Scene 2

In this video you will see the RSC 2015 acting company performing part of Act 5 Scene 2 on stage. As you watch consider: How these final, domestic, moments are …

Perspectives through time

Over time, reception of Othello, as well as the aspects of the play that directors and actors have chosen to emphasise, has varied extremely. This divided opinion and spectrum of …

Domestic tragedy

In this video Anjna looks at Othello as unique among Shakespeare’s tragedies because it focuses on domestic settings and consequences rather than men of ‘high estate’ with far reaching consequences. …

All that’s spoke is marr’d

In this video Anjna focuses on the language of tragedy, considering how the language throughout the play leads to the ending looking particularly at Iago. As you watch consider: How …