Othello, the Moor of Venice by William Shakespeare.
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Othello, the Moor of Venice by William Shakespeare Kind of Play - Verse drama - a dramatic/theatrical work (written predominantly in verse but prose features too) - Shakespeare and his contemporaries tried to imitate Greek and Roman drama. This was a period of time when there was a great interest in the classical civilizations of the west, particularly ancient Greece and Rome. During this period termed as the Renaissance, there was a great revival in learning and flowering of the arts and music. - There is an audible distinction between both prose and verse and the audience of Shakespeare's times would have had easily differentiated them. - Verse was generally used by aristocrats, nobles and people of the higher class.
Social Context of the Play -England was very insular, and travel was difficult. England had little contact with the civilizations outside of Europe. Only a few Englishmen such as Sir Francis Drake became explorers, compared to the numerous Dutch and Portuguese explorers in the 1500s and 1600s. The English like most of the other Europeans were rather eurocentric in their views and Europe to them represented the zenith of human civilization. (Highly ethnocentric) They had a lot of ignorance about non-European societies and believed that non-European people were barbarians. Inter-racial marriages were unknown and unacceptable in European societies. The audience would have been appalled to see a noble hero being a Moor in Othello, for non-Europeans especially those of Negroid ancestry were seen to be barbarians, perhaps having connections with the devil himself.
There were numerous hostilities between the English and Spanish during this period. English Perceptions about Venice and Italy Venice was the one of the most prosperous empires in Europe and the Mediterranean, and perhaps one of the greatest maritime empires in the region's history. It had a cosmopolitan society consisting of Italians, Jews, Moors, Arabs and other ethnic groups. One has to consider about whether these outsiders, the non-Italians were really accepted into society. Venice was also known for its law and order and fair political systems. Venetian women were also known for their lascivious behaviour (Liberal attitudes towards sex). Themes/ Issues of the Play - Conflict between Good and Evil - Presentation of Race and attitudes towards race and colour in English society - The Outsider in Society - The Contrast between Illusion and Reality - Jealousy - Attitudes towards love and marriage in England - English perceptions of Venice and Italy
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