• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Stop wasting time looking for files and revisions. Connect your Gmail, DriveDropbox, and Slack accounts and in less than 2 minutes, Dokkio will automatically organize all your file attachments. Learn more and claim your free account.


Literary Criticisms

Page history last edited by Eva 11 years, 5 months ago

Year 13 English i-lit task

Reading a literary criticism and writing an abstract


Task: For this task each student in the class will be provided with a piece of literary criticism looking at Othello by William Shakepeare. It will be your responsibility to read and process the article, and present a 150-200 word abstract that summarise the key points that the critic covers.


Step One: Defining

Before you begin this task you will need to ensure you understand what an abstract is, and how to go about writing an effective one.


Here are some links that may help you with defining the task:





Step Two: Retrieving

Read the article at least twice.


Step Three: Processing

Read the article a third time, this time with a highlighter in your hand. Looking closely at topic sentences, to guide you, highlight what you believe to be the main point in each paragraph.


Step Four: Creating

Once you have completed identify the main points covered in the article look again at the links about how to structure an abstract. Create a plan for your abstract, write up a rough draft. Look again at the advice given on the links. Edit and rework until you have a final draft.


Step Five: Communicating

You will post your abstract on the wiki page directly below the article itself.


Step Six: Reflecting

On a piece of paper, reflect on the process you have just completed. What went well? What did you find challenging? How could the process have been improved? Please pass your reflections on to me.


1) Write and post your abstract below.

2) Select and paste 2-3 quotes on this cheat sheet (make sure you reference the author)




Ella At the Door of Truth.doc


Yi Lein Blasphemous Preacher Iago.doc


Shakespeare’s Othello is seemingly centred on the need for ocular proof, while in truth words mark the damned end for our characters. Words hold the maliciously potent ability to ruin, as cleverly utilised by Iago. How does Iago prove to be such a charismatic liar? The tragedy of Othello hinges on Iago’s variety of preacherly skills, which he deploys and distorts for his own ends. Iago deforms the preacher’s vocation by inducing in his hearers not faith, but doubt.  His lines mime the role of a fiendish preacher, his power to convince derived from his manipulation of the four aspects of the Reformation: free will and determinism, salvation and damnation, faith and doubt, comfort and despair. 

Thus, the efficacy of Iago’s speech is grounded in his parodies of religious speech and demands the willing co-operation – through the medium of the ear – of his listeners, anxious to be among the elect. Like the anxious Protestant seeking assurance from the preacher, Iago’s listener wants to know that he is saved, which is exactly what Iago manipulates to get what he wants. Iago entangles this desire for acceptance to the group of elect with other discourses, such as marriage, adultery and race. Through establishing himself as a character providing guidance, assurance and comfort, Iago advertises himself as one of the godly, while the increasingly distraught Othello becomes entrapped in the role of a fully assured member of the flock. The “assurance” Iago brings guarantees damnation, bringing his listener neither comfort nor the assurance of salvation, but instead the assurance of torment – as marked by the countless needless sacrifices in Othello. "The bruised heart has indeed been pierced through the ear."


Milly Devouring Discourses.doc


Natalya Historical Differences Misogyny.doc


The history of misogyny in the English renaissance culture directly relates to the misogyny prevalent throughout the play ‘Othello’. Women were condemned to be inferior and subordinate to men in the renaissance culture. This unjust presence of misogyny discourse was predominantly found in bible writings, books on courtly love and in countless proverbs that stated so blatantly the denunciation and degrading of women. Women at the time were considered as a man’s possession or ownership as ‘All women have the advantage of being mistresses to their desires. For no amount of beating can change your hearts, but the man who could change them would have lordship over your bodies’.

The misogyny prevalent in the play ‘Othello’ is reflected through the characters of both Othello and Iago. The historical oppression of women in theology serve as a justification for Iago’s demeaning of women, including Emelia in the play. Othello in the play also exemplifies qualities of a misogynist when he plans to kill Desdimona, oblivious of her innocence, only because she is a woman and therefore has no say in her defence.           

The text in Othello shows clearly that men have the power to appropriate women for their own purposes and to write them out, directly reflecting on the theologies accepted in the Renaissance period when women were enjoined to silence and submission. As long as a woman’s affection was directed to her husband, despite his behaviour, no one objected to it. Female submission in this way was not only tolerated but also encouraged by Renaissance discourses.          


Zoe Honest Othello.doc

In the following essay Andrews explores the origins of the strawberry spotted handkerchief in Othello. Othello first accounts that it was given to his mother by an Egyptian “charmer” and that it is a love controlling talisman. Later in the play he claims it was a gift that his father gave his mother. He makes the first account to Desdemona alone and the second to the assembled Venetians after the murder scene. Andrews maintains that the first account is true and that the second is false. He claims that it was not a mistake made on Shakespeare part (by forgetting that he had already outlined where the handkerchief came from) but a lie told by Othello. He believes that the first account of the handkerchief’s origin fits with Othello’s “exotic and fabulous past” and that he lied in the second account because he felt it would be viewed negatively by the Venetians. He concludes that the importance of the handkerchief is not where it came from but what it represents for Othello. For him it was not a means of bewitching Desdemona to fall in love with him but a symbol of the continuance of her love for him.   


Emily Magical Properties.doc


Magic is a minor theme in Othello. Shakespeare used magical properties to portray how the mind and eye can be seduced while engrossed in the story line and goings on of a Shakespearean play. In Othello, the handkerchief symbolises magic, in that Othello sees it as an object of great emotional and sexual energy between himself and Desdemona. Yet, the same handkerchief is seen by the other characters in the play to be a simple tradable good, as it would have been in Shakespeare’s London. The intensity in which Othello regards the handkerchief reveals the power of commodities over people. Even though the other characters in Othello see it as an ordinary object with no special interest or purpose, it stirs up a fetish, not unlike the one Othello himself has with it. To Othello, the handkerchief becomes a symbol of his relationship with his wife, as it is used by Iago as proof of Desdemona’s affair with Cassio. The handkerchief has a power over Othello, and gradually over the other characters too, that seems magical, in the fact that it has the power to manipulate its owner and those who come into contact with it, to carry out actions that would not normally be considered. When Othello kills Desdemona, her body becomes the symbol of magic in place of the handkerchief. Before, the handkerchief was the commodity being traded between the various characters and was the centre of many fetishes, whereas by the end of the play, it is Desdemona that Othello fetishes after, which essentially leads to her death.


Goldie Othello and Racism.doc


Devon Othello as Ironist.doc


Iago is portrayed as very much like Othello. Nothing that is in Iago is absent from Othello, though there is much in Othello of which Iago never dreamed. Through this Iago is able to find his way to Othello's heart, by simply looking at his own. (It would be misleading to say that Iago is an extension of Othello, for Iago is complete in himself).


By looking within himself Iago is able to see Othello: a sense of authority, a streak that will play ignorant when he was knowledge, a streak that will play weak when he is strong, an overpowering frustration when he is denied superior knowledge, a tendency to, under frustration, mount to compulsion, leading to manipulating situations, and ultimately he will protect himself when it comes down to it.

Iago is largely an ironic character. He portrays himself to be something he isn't: honesty, faithful, loyal. Othello also has these characteristics, but he uses them in war: he must betray enemies, "he must keep decisive power in hidden reserve" etc. This gives Iago the chance to degrade Othello, and all in all he sinks to Iago. 


On another ironic note...






Samara Race and the Spectacle of the Monstrous in Othello.doc


This article examines how Shakespeare used the common assumption that people had about blacks being monsters, to his advantage and have created and constructed Othello’s character in such way that would intrigue the audience in the early 1600s. As most people in that time and as early as the 13th centauries have reported that monstrous races were found in Africa rather than anywhere else in the world, Othello being black was very “marketable”. It is fairly obvious in the play that Shakespeare exploited this Anglo centrism as he first introduces Othello as an animal. Iago awakens Brabantio by announcing “an old black ram is tupping his white ewe”. This imagery was intended to horrify Desdemona‘s father as well as the audience.

Other texts written around the same time reinforced this idea of blacks being “bateman-esque”- “black monsters”. Although Othello was not considered to be such a monster himself, as an African, he might have assumed to have knowledge of such monstrous race. Shakespeare played on the ideas based around this popular imagination that blacks were monsters because the “formation is contrary to the general rule and to what is usual”- Aristotle, and by using this he would have intensified audience’s response to the play 


Jordan Shakespeares Desdemona.doc


Esther Shakespeare's Moor.doc


Louise Stage Managing otherness in Othello.doc


This article analyses the significance of narrative and dramatic strategies of Othello, specifically in terms of political implications. The play, Othello, offers an interesting and unusual site for examining narrative production. With such a simple plot, Othello (the moor and a general in the Venetian army) secretly weds Desdemona, the daughter of a Venetian senator. Iago, who is of lower status than Othello, convinces him into believing that Desdemona has been unfaithful with the lieutenant, Cassio. In a jealous rage Othello murders Desdemona. The plot makes a useful contribution to our understanding of the politics of the Elizabethan period, the period in which Othello was written.


Shakespeare’s use of formal literary devices creates a theme of absence/presence that comments on Othello’s identity in this period. A helpful point is the contrastive definition of the two genres outlined in this article, “drama is presence is time and space; narrative is past, always past” The staged present of the tale that Othello tells about himself is not the events he recounts, but the act of narration. This role Othello plays, directs attention to past events and to a protagonist (Othello). Interpreted in this context, narrative is a sign of absence, whereas drama is a sign of presence. Through juggling of narrative and dramatic devices, Shakespeare is able to manipulate stage time and space so that much of the action that defines the protagonist is located offstage, outside the cultural purviews of the Elizabethan audience. This article has attempted to show that Shakespeare’s use of narrative and dramatic strategies revels an Elizabethan who has explored during a period of time when Europe was redefining its geographical and political boundaries and implications.


Rose The Ironic Equation in Shakespeare.doc


Emma The Redundancy of Language in Othello.doc


Mele Three Green Eyed Monsters.doc


“O beware, my Lord of jealousy; it is the green- eyed monster which doth mock” are words of Iago as he tempts dear Othello into thinking that his wife Desdemona is secretly having an affair with Cassio. These are the words that trigger the sado-masochistic emotion of jealousy in Othello. Of all tragedies, Othello is Shakespeare’s most relentless and excruciating play, due to the fact that the focus is most narrow and substained. Othello the play concentrates on the systematic immolation of one man. Iago is the villain in the play and has more lines than the main character himself Othello, not only that but has more lines than almost any other character in Shakespeare’s oeuvre and is also the most intriguing. Iago deceived Othello by putting on a false appearance as he acts as a good friend in need as he feeds poor Othello with lies about his wife Desdemona “with her, on her, what you will”. Desdemona plays the important role of Othello’s wife and also the tool to fuel Othello’s anger and jealousy. Othello’s anger and jealousy of his wife overwhelms him, and makes him a “green- eyed monster” as he cruelly murders Desdemona. Othello is referred to in the play as a hero however this hero changes as Iago attaches himself to him with single mindedness of a lamprey. (This lamprey is an eel-like fish). Othello’s jealousy leads him into paranoia which ultimately fuels him to kill his wife Desdemona.






This picture here potrays Iago attaching himself to Othello. (great use of metaphor ;)).

Iago= Lamprey 

Othello= man with sunnies (ignore skin colour)


Eva Virgin and Ape.doc - (who finally did her work! - well some of it..but shhh we don't talk about that)


The essay is basically split up into two parts.  The first section is a comparative discussion on the way Othello’s assimilation into Venetian society, and his resistance to it, has been portrayed in different film productions.  The writer goes into areas such as the subtle actions of Othello’s rebellious tendencies towards his adopted Venetian culture and Christian religion.  There is a common battle between Othello’s Moorish roots and his new Venetian life. Areas which explore this idea are; the skin colour and costume of Othello, his relationship and erotism with Desdemona and Iago’s manipulation.  An example of the notion of otherness is the suggestion of Othello’s obsessive fingering of his cross pendant.  The cross, a symbol of his adopted culture helps him to sustain his affiliation to this new society.  Against this overarching idea, the idea of Othello’s “otherness” (see description) is described and portrayed against this Venetian backdrop.  In the second section, the writer examines how several important gazes of Iago are manipulated through different productions which contribute to the notions of belonging and alterity (otherness). 


Otherness -definition

“I think it has something to do with the division of the world into binaries - following strands of Greek philosophy. So everything is conceived of in terms of opposites - black/white, male/female/, old/young, beautiful/ugly... - as opposed to the more unitary thinking of Eastern philosophy. So the opposite becomes "the other" and can present a threat. So in "Othello" we have the binary opposites of Venice (civilisation, law and order, the West, reason etc - and Cyprus (the East, lack of order, emotions etc). Of course one of the great binaries in the play is black/white ("black ram tupping my white ewe"), and the threat that the black Othello, the outsider, the adventurer, the man of action presents to the white characters. The otherness of Othello means that many of the characters feel threatened by his colour, exoticness etc because these challenge their concepts of themselves.I think Iago uses this "otherness" of Othello to bring him down.”

Ms Giles


Mrs Amos Women and Men in Othello.doc



Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.