A Guide to the PlayBook - 1999
One of Shakespeare's four major tragedies, Othello has captivated audiences for centuries. In its treatment of jealousy and racial tension, it offers an enduring study of universal themes. Part of the Greenwood Guides to Shakespeare, this reference book provides students with a comprehensive overview of the play. The early chapters discuss significant differences between Quarto and Folio texts of Othello and explore the play's sources and historical contexts--in particular, how Othello contributes to early seventeenth century discourses on racial otherness and the role of women. The book then analyzes the dramatic structure of the play, including its settings, action, and patterns of language.
The play hinges on Shakespeare's characters, and the volume discusses his complex presentation of Desdemona, Iago, and Othello. It then examines the tragedy's significant themes: the outsider in society, the gap between empirical evidence and intuitive faith, and the monsters and demons of sexual jealousy and the human imagination. This discussion is followed by a review of the critical response to Othello from the early seventeenth century to the present. A final chapter covers the play in performance, with special attention to versions available on film and videotape. Included are photographs from several major productions. The volume concludes with a bibliographical essay.