Othello

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Evaluate the ways in which Shakespeare’s representation manipulates his audience and provokes insights into the text you have studied. William Shakespeare wrote many of his famous plays during his ‘great tragic period’, he wrote them with an aim to not only entertain his audience but to educate them through a social and political reflection using literary and staging techniques. Othello was in approximately 1603, to do exactly this. Shakespeare was known for pushing the boundaries and this play was no exception with the plays central character being an African man in a position of authority. As Aristotle explains, an audience’s pleasure consists of not merely observing the play but evaluating and making comparisons. It is using this that Shakespeare stimulates an intellectual engagement with his audience in order to assist them in reaching a deeper understanding of a topic. In Othello this is done through a variety of themes that are evident throughout the play including racism, misrepresentation appearance vs. reality and jealously vs. pride. The play is set against the back drop of the wars between Venice and Turkey, therefore embracing the context of the time. Racism was a serious issue at this time and it was known that throughout the 16th century there was a lot of racism towards Africans through the transatlantic slave trade, these Africans were treated less than human, like “animals”. This is shown directly in the first scene where Roderigo and Iago are discussing their dislike for Othello, yet they never mention his name thus dehumanising him. In this scene the audience is presented with a mood of intrigue and confusion as his name is no longer mentioned, yet they remain curious to as what is so wrong about this man that they cannot bear to use his name. This is Shakespeare’s first use of manipulative techniques, as he is drawing the audience into his play, and when it is revealed that Othello is a coloured man, the audience will either accept the fact...
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