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Othello
Othello
(The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice) is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1603. It is based on the story Un Capitano Moro ("A Moorish
Moorish
Captain") by Cinthio, a disciple of Boccaccio, first published in 1565.[1] The story revolves around its two central characters: Othello, a Moorish
Moorish
general in the Venetian army and his unfaithful ensign, Iago. Given its varied and enduring themes of racism, love, jealousy, betrayal, revenge and repentance, Othello
Othello
is still often performed in professional and community theatre alike, and has been the source for numerous operatic, film, and literary adaptations.

Contents

1 Characters 2 Synopsis

2.1 Act I 2.2 Act II 2.3 Act III 2.4 Act IV 2.5 Act V

3 Cinthio source 4 Date and context 5 Themes

5.1 Iago
Iago
versus Othello 5.2 Race 5.3 Religious and philosophical 5.4 The hero

6 Performance history

6.1 Pre-20th century 6.2 20th century 6.3 21st century

7 Adaptations and cultural references 8 References 9 External links

Characters[edit]

Othello
Othello
– General in the Venetian military Desdemona
Desdemona
– Othello's wife; daughter of Brabantio Iago
Iago
– Othello's trusted, but jealous and traitorous ensign Cassio – Othello's loyal and most beloved captain Bianca – Cassio's lover Emilia – Iago's wife and Desdemona's maidservant Brabantio
Brabantio
– Venetian senator and Desdemona's father (can also be called Brabanzio) Roderigo
Roderigo
– dissolute Venetian, in love with Desdemona Doge
Doge
of Venice Gratiano – Brabantio's brother Lodovico – Brabantio's kinsman and Desdemona's cousin Montano – Othello's Venetian predecessor in the government of Cyprus Clown – servant Senators Sailor Officers, Gentlemen, Messenger, Herald, Attendants, Musicians, etc.

Synopsis[edit]

Desdemona
Desdemona
and Othello, by Antonio Muñoz Degrain

Othello
Othello
costume – illustration by Percy Anderson for Costume Fanciful, Historical and Theatrical, 1906

Act I[edit] Roderigo, a wealthy and dissolute gentleman, complains to his friend Iago, an ensign, that Iago
Iago
has not told him about the secret marriage between Desdemona, the daughter of a Senator named Brabantio, and Othello, a Moorish
Moorish
general in the Venetian army. Roderigo
Roderigo
is upset because he loves Desdemona
Desdemona
and had asked her father for her hand in marriage. Iago
Iago
hates Othello
Othello
for promoting a younger man named Cassio above him, whom Iago
Iago
considers less capable a soldier than himself, and tells Roderigo
Roderigo
that he plans to use Othello
Othello
for his own advantage. Iago convinces Roderigo
Roderigo
to wake Brabantio
Brabantio
and tell him about his daughter's elopement. Meanwhile, Iago
Iago
sneaks away to find Othello
Othello
and warns him that Brabantio
Brabantio
is coming for him. Brabantio, provoked by Roderigo, is enraged and will not rest until he has beheaded Othello, but he finds Othello's residence full of the Duke of Venice's guards, who prevent violence. News has arrived in Venice that the Turks are going to attack Cyprus; therefore Othello
Othello
is summoned to advise the senators. Brabantio
Brabantio
has no option but to accompany Othello
Othello
to the Duke's residence, where he accuses Othello
Othello
of seducing Desdemona
Desdemona
by witchcraft. Othello
Othello
defends himself before the Duke of Venice, Brabantio's kinsmen Lodovico and Gratiano, and various senators. Othello
Othello
explains that Desdemona
Desdemona
became enamoured of him for the sad and compelling stories he told of his life before Venice, not because of any witchcraft. The senate is satisfied, once Desdemona
Desdemona
confirms that she loves Othello, but Brabantio
Brabantio
leaves saying that Desdemona
Desdemona
will betray Othello: "Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see:/She has deceived her father, and may thee," (Act I, Sc 3). Iago, still in the room, takes note of Brabantio's remark. By order of the Duke, Othello
Othello
leaves Venice to command the Venetian armies against invading Turks on the island of Cyprus, accompanied by his new wife, his new lieutenant Cassio, his ensign Iago, and Iago's wife, Emilia, as Desdemona's attendant. Act II[edit] The party arrives in Cyprus
Cyprus
to find that a storm has destroyed the Turkish fleet. Othello
Othello
orders a general celebration and leaves to consummate his marriage with Desdemona. In his absence, Iago
Iago
gets Cassio drunk, and then persuades Roderigo
Roderigo
to draw Cassio into a fight. Montano tries to calm an angry and drunk Cassio down, but end up fighting one another. Montano is injured in the fight. Othello reenters and questions the men as to what happened. Othello
Othello
blames Cassio for the disturbance and strips him of his rank. Cassio is distraught. Iago
Iago
persuades Cassio to importune Desdemona
Desdemona
to convince her husband to reinstate Cassio. Act III[edit] Iago
Iago
now persuades Othello
Othello
to be suspicious of Cassio and Desdemona. When Desdemona
Desdemona
drops a handkerchief (the first gift given to her by Othello), Emilia finds it, and gives it to her husband Iago, at his request, unaware of what he plans to do with it. Othello
Othello
reenters and vows with Iago
Iago
for the death of Desdemona
Desdemona
and Cassio, after which he makes Iago
Iago
his lieutenant. Act III, scene iii is considered to be the turning point of the play as it is the scene in which Iago successfully sows the seeds of doubt in Othello's mind, inevitably sealing Othello's fate. Act IV[edit] Iago
Iago
plants the handkerchief in Cassio's lodgings, then tells Othello to watch Cassio's reactions while Iago
Iago
questions him. Iago
Iago
goads Cassio on to talk about his affair with Bianca, a local courtesan, but whispers her name so quietly that Othello
Othello
believes the two men are talking about Desdemona. Later, Bianca accuses Cassio of giving her a second-hand gift which he had received from another lover. Othello sees this, and Iago
Iago
convinces him that Cassio received the handkerchief from Desdemona. Enraged and hurt, Othello
Othello
resolves to kill his wife and told Iago
Iago
to kill Cassio. Othello
Othello
proceeds to make Desdemona's life miserable, hitting her in front of visiting Venetian nobles. Meanwhile, Roderigo complains that he has received no results from Iago
Iago
in return for his money and efforts to win Desdemona, but Iago
Iago
convinces him to kill Cassio. Act V[edit]

Painting by William Salter of Othello
Othello
weeping over Desdemona's body. Oil on canvas, ca. 1857.

Roderigo, having been manipulated by Iago, attacks Cassio in the street after Cassio leaves Bianca's lodgings. Cassio wounds Roderigo. During the scuffle, Iago
Iago
comes from behind Cassio and badly cuts his leg. In the darkness, Iago
Iago
manages to hide his identity, and when Lodovico and Gratiano hear Cassio's cries for help, Iago
Iago
joins them. When Cassio identifies Roderigo
Roderigo
as one of his attackers, Iago
Iago
secretly stabs Roderigo
Roderigo
to stop him revealing the plot. Iago
Iago
then accuses Bianca of the failed conspiracy to kill Cassio. Othello
Othello
confronts Desdemona, and then strangles her to death in their bed. When Emilia arrives, Othello
Othello
accuses Desdemona
Desdemona
of adultery. Emilia calls for help. The former governor Montano arrives, with Gratiano and Iago. When Othello
Othello
mentions the handkerchief as proof, Emilia realizes what her husband Iago
Iago
has done, and she exposes him, whereupon he kills her. Othello, belatedly realising Desdemona's innocence, stabs Iago
Iago
but not fatally, saying that he would rather have Iago
Iago
live the rest of his life in pain. Iago
Iago
refuses to explain his motives, vowing to remain silent from that moment on. Lodovico apprehends both Iago
Iago
and Othello
Othello
for the murders of Roderigo
Roderigo
and Emilia, but Othello
Othello
commits suicide. Lodovico appoints Cassio Othello's successor and exhorts Cassio to punish Iago
Iago
justly. Cinthio source[edit] Othello
Othello
is an adaptation of the Italian writer Cinthio's tale "Un Capitano Moro" ("A Moorish
Moorish
Captain") from his Gli Hecatommithi (1565), a collection of one hundred tales in the style of Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron. No English translation of Cinthio was available in Shakespeare's lifetime, and verbal echoes in Othello
Othello
are closer to the Italian original than to Gabriel Chappuy's 1584 French translation. Cinthio's tale may have been based on an actual incident occurring in Venice about 1508.[2] It also resembles an incident described in the earlier tale of "The Three Apples", one of the stories narrated in the One Thousand and One Nights
One Thousand and One Nights
(Arabian Nights).[3] Desdemona
Desdemona
is the only named character in Cinthio's tale, with his few other characters identified only as the "Moor", the "Squadron Leader", the "Ensign", and the "Ensign's Wife" (corresponding to the play's Othello, Cassio, Iago
Iago
and Emilia). Cinthio drew a moral (which he placed in the mouth of Desdemona) that it is unwise for European women to marry the temperamental men of other nations.[4] Cinthio's tale has been described as a "partly racist warning" about the dangers of miscegenation.[5] Cinthio's "Moor" is the model for Shakespeare's Othello, but some researchers believe the poet also took inspiration from the several Moorish
Moorish
delegations from Morocco
Morocco
to Elizabethan England
Elizabethan England
circa 1600.[6] While Shakespeare
Shakespeare
closely followed Cinthio's tale in composing Othello, he departed from it in some details. Brabantio, Roderigo, and several minor characters are not found in Cinthio, for example, and Shakespeare's Emilia takes part in the handkerchief mischief while her counterpart in Cinthio does not. Unlike in Othello, in Cinthio, the "Ensign" (the play's Iago) lusts after Desdemona
Desdemona
and is spurred to revenge when she rejects him. Shakespeare's opening scenes are unique to his tragedy, as is the tender scene between Emilia and Desdemona
Desdemona
as the lady prepares for bed. Shakespeare's most striking departure from Cinthio is the manner of his heroine's death. In Shakespeare, Othello suffocates Desdemona, but in Cinthio, the "Moor" commissions the "Ensign" to bludgeon his wife to death with a sand-filled stocking. Cinthio describes each gruesome blow, and, when the lady is dead, the "Ensign" and the "Moor" place her lifeless body upon her bed, smash her skull, and cause the cracked ceiling above the bed to collapse upon her, giving the impression its falling rafters caused her death. In Cinthio, the two murderers escape detection. The "Moor" then misses Desdemona
Desdemona
greatly, and comes to loathe the sight of the "Ensign". He demotes him, and refuses to have him in his company. The "Ensign" then seeks revenge by disclosing to the "Squadron Leader" the "Moor's" involvement in Desdemona's death. The two depart Cyprus
Cyprus
for Venice, and denounce the "Moor" to the Venetian Seignory; he is arrested, taken to Venice, and tortured. He refuses to admit his guilt and is condemned to exile. Desdemona's relatives eventually find and kill him. The "Ensign", however, continues to escape detection in Desdemona's death, but engages in other crimes while in Venice. He is arrested and dies after being tortured. Cinthio's "Ensign's Wife" (the play's Emilia), survives her husband's death to tell her story.[7] While supplying the source of the plot, the book offered nothing of the sense of place of Venice or Cyprus. For knowledge of this, Shakespeare
Shakespeare
may have used Gasparo Contarini's The Commonwealth and Government of Venice, in Lewes Lewkenor's 1599 translation.[8][9] Date and context[edit]

Title page of the first quarto (1622)

The earliest mention of the play is found in a 1604 Revels Office account, which records that on "Hallamas Day, being the first of Nouembar ... the Kings Maiesties plaiers" performed "A Play in the Banketinghouse at Whit Hall Called The Moor of Venis." The work is attributed to "Shaxberd." The Revels account was first printed by Peter Cunningham in 1842, and, while its authenticity was once challenged, is now regarded as genuine (as authenticated by A.E. Stamp in 1930).[10] Based on its style, the play is usually dated 1603 or 1604, but arguments have been made for dates as early as 1601 or 1602.[2][11] The play was entered into the Register of the Stationers Company on 6 October 1621, by Thomas Walkley, and was first published in quarto format by him in 1622:

"Tragœdy of Othello, The Moore of Venice. As it hath beene diuerse times acted at the Globe, and at the Black-Friers, by his Maiesties Seruants. Written by William Shakespeare. London. Printed by N. O. [Nicholas Okes] for Thomas Walkley, and are to be sold at his shop, at the Eagle and Child, in Brittans Bursse, 1622."

The first page of Othello
Othello
from the First Folio, printed in 1623

One year later, the play was included among the plays in the First Folio of Shakespeare's collected plays. However, the version in the Folio is rather different in length, and in wording: as the editors of the Folger edition explain: "The Folio play has about 160 lines that do not appear in the Quarto. Some of these cluster together in quite extensive passages. The Folio also lacks a scattering of about a dozen lines or part-lines that are to be found in the Quarto. These two versions also differ from each other in their readings of numerous words.[12] Scholars differ in their explanation of these differences, and no consensus has emerged.[12] Kerrigan suggests that the 1623 Folio version of Othello
Othello
and a number of other plays may have been cleaned-up relative to the Quarto
Quarto
to conform with the 1606 Act to Restrain Abuses, which made it an offence 'in any Stage-play, Interlude, Shew, Maygame, or Pageant, iestingly, and prophanely [to] speake, or vse the holy Name of God, or of Christ Iesus, or of the holy Ghost, or of the Trinitie'.[13] This is not incompatible with the suggestion that the Quarto
Quarto
is based on an early version of the play, whilst the Folio represents Shakespeare's revised version.[12] It may also be that the Quarto
Quarto
was cut in the printing house to meet a fixed number of pages.[2] Most modern editions are based on the longer Folio version, but often incorporate Quarto
Quarto
readings of words when the Folio text appears to be in error.[14] Quartos were also published in 1630, 1655, 1681, 1695, 1699 and 1705. Themes[edit] Iago
Iago
versus Othello[edit] Although its title suggests that the tragedy belongs primarily to Othello, Iago
Iago
plays an important role in the plot. He reflects the archetypal villain, and has the biggest share of the dialogue. In Othello, it is Iago
Iago
who manipulates all other characters at will, controlling their movements and trapping them in an intricate net of lies. He achieves this by getting close to all characters and playing on their weaknesses while they refer to him as "honest" Iago, thus furthering his control over the characters. A. C. Bradley, and more recently Harold Bloom, have been major advocates of this interpretation.[15] Other critics, most notably in the later twentieth century (after F. R. Leavis), have focused on Othello. Race[edit]

Portrait of Abd el-Ouahed ben Messaoud
Abd el-Ouahed ben Messaoud
ben Mohammed Anoun, Moorish ambassador to Queen Elizabeth I in 1600, sometimes suggested as the inspiration for Othello.[16]

Although characters described as "moors" appear in two other Shakespeare
Shakespeare
plays ( Titus Andronicus
Titus Andronicus
and The Merchant of Venice), such characters were a rarity in contemporary theatre, and it was unknown for them to take centre stage.[17] There is no consensus over Othello's ethnic origin. E. A. J. Honigmann, the editor of the Arden Shakespeare edition, concluded that Othello's race is ambiguous. "Renaissance representations of the Moor were vague, varied, inconsistent, and contradictory. As critics have established, the term 'Moor' referred to dark-skinned people in general, used interchangeably with terms such as 'African', 'Somali', 'Ethiopian', 'Negro', 'Arab', 'Berber', and even 'Indian' to designate a figure from Africa (or beyond)."[18][19] Various uses of the word black (for example, "Haply for I am black") are insufficient evidence for any accurate racial classification, Honigmann argues, since black could simply mean swarthy to Elizabethans. Iago
Iago
twice uses the word Barbary
Barbary
or Barbarian to refer to Othello, seemingly referring to the Barbary
Barbary
coast inhabited by Berbers. Roderigo
Roderigo
calls Othello
Othello
"the thicklips", which seems to refer to Sub-Saharan African physiognomy, but Honigmann counters that, as these comments are all intended as insults by the characters, they need not be taken literally.[20] Michael Neill, editor of The Oxford Shakespeare, notes that the earliest critical references to Othello's colour (Thomas Rymer's 1693 critique of the play, and the 1709 engraving in Nicholas Rowe's edition of Shakespeare) assume him to be Sub-Saharan, while the earliest known North African interpretation was not until Edmund Kean's production of 1814.[21] Honigmann discusses the view that Abd el-Ouahed ben Messaoud ben Mohammed Anoun, Moorish
Moorish
ambassador of the Arab King of Barbary
Barbary
(Morocco) to Queen Elizabeth I in 1600, was one inspiration for Othello. He stayed with his retinue in London for several months and occasioned much discussion. While Shakespeare's play was written only a few years afterwards, Honigmann questions the view that ben Messaoud himself was a significant influence on it.[22]

Artist William Mulready
William Mulready
portrays African-American actor Ira Aldridge as Othello.[23] The Walters Art Museum.

Othello
Othello
is referred to as a " Barbary
Barbary
horse" (1.1.113) and a "lascivious Moor" (1.1.127). In 3.3 he denounces Desdemona's supposed sin as being "black as mine own face". Desdemona's physical whiteness is otherwise presented in opposition to Othello's dark skin: 5.2 "that whiter skin of hers than snow". Iago
Iago
tells Brabantio
Brabantio
that "an old black ram / is tupping your white ewe" (1.1.88). In Elizabethan discourse, the word "black" could suggest various concepts that extended beyond the physical colour of skin, including a wide range of negative connotations.[24][25] Othello
Othello
was frequently performed as an Arab Moor during the 19th century. He was first played by a black man on the London stage in 1833 by the most important of the nineteenth-century Othellos, the African American Ira Aldridge
Ira Aldridge
who had been forced to leave his home country to make his career.[26] The first major screen production casting a black actor as Othello
Othello
did not come until 1995, with Laurence Fishburne
Laurence Fishburne
opposite Kenneth Branagh's Iago.[27] In the past, Othello
Othello
would often have been portrayed by a white actor in blackface or in a black mask: more recent actors who chose to 'black up' include Ralph Richardson
Ralph Richardson
(1937); John Gielgud
John Gielgud
(1961); Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
(1964); Anthony Hopkins
Anthony Hopkins
(1981), and Orson Welles
Orson Welles
(1952).[27] Ground-breaking black American actor Paul Robeson played the role in three different productions between 1930 and 1959. The casting of the role comes with a political subtext. Patrick Stewart
Patrick Stewart
played the role alongside an otherwise all-black cast in the Shakespeare
Shakespeare
Theatre Company's 1997 staging of the play[28][29] and Thomas Thieme, also white, played Othello
Othello
in a 2007 Munich Kammerspiele staging at the Royal Shakespeare
Shakespeare
Theatre, Stratford. Michael Gambon
Michael Gambon
also took the role in 1980 and 1991; their performances were critically acclaimed.[30][31] Carlo Rota, of Mediterranean (British Italian) heritage, played the character on Canadian television in 2008.[32]

The American Revels 1979 production shows Clayton Corbin and Caryn West as Othello
Othello
and Desdemona; in the second plate, West is seen with Marie Goodman Hunter, an African American actress, as Emilia.

The race of the title role is often seen as Shakespeare's way of isolating the character, culturally as well as visually, from the Venetian nobles and officers, and the isolation may seem more genuine when a black actor takes the role. But questions of race may not boil down to a simple decision of casting a single role. In 1979, Keith Fowler’s production of Othello
Othello
mixed the races throughout the company. Produced by the American Revels Company at the Empire Theater (renamed the November Theater in 2011) in Richmond, Virginia, this production starred African American actor Clayton Corbin in the title role, with Henry K. Bal, a Hawaiian actor of mixed ethnicity, playing Iago. Othello’s army was composed of both black and white mercenaries. Iago’s wife, Emilia was played by the popular black actress, Marie Goodman Hunter.[33] The 2016 production at the New York Theatre Workshop, directed by Sam Gold, also effectively used a mixed-race cast, starring English actors David Oyelowo
David Oyelowo
as Othello
Othello
and Daniel Craig
Daniel Craig
as Iago. Desdemona
Desdemona
is played by American actress Rachel Brosnahan, Cassio is played by Finn Wittrock, and Emillia is played by Marsha Stephanie Blake. As the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
of England proclaimed the importance of pious, controlled behaviour in society, it was the tendency of the contemporary Englishman to displace society's "undesirable" qualities of barbarism, treachery, jealousy and libidinousness onto those who are considered "other".[34] The assumed characteristics of black men, or "the other", were both instigated and popularised by Renaissance dramas of the time; for example, the treachery of black men inherent to George Peele's The Battle of Alcazar (1588).[35] It has been argued that it is Othello's "otherness" which makes him so vulnerable to manipulation. Audiences of the time would expect Othello
Othello
to be insecure about his race and the implied age gap between himself and Desdemona. Religious and philosophical[edit] The title "Moor" implies a religious "other" of North African or Middle Eastern descent. Though the actual racial definition of the term is murky, the implications are religious as well as racial.[36] Many critics have noted references to demonic possession throughout the play, especially in relation to Othello's seizure, a phenomenon often associated with possession in the popular consciousness of the day.[37] Thomas M. Vozar, in a 2012 article in Philosophy and Literature , suggests that the epileptic fit relates to the mind–body problem and the existence of the soul.[38] The hero[edit] There have been many differing views on the character of Othello
Othello
over the years. A.C. Bradley calls Othello
Othello
the "most romantic of all of Shakespeare's heroes" (by "hero" Bradley means protagonist) and "the greatest poet of them all". On the other hand, F.R. Leavis describes Othello
Othello
as "egotistical". There are those who also take a less critical approach to the character of Othello
Othello
such as William Hazlitt, who said: "the nature of the Moor is noble ... but his blood is of the most inflammable kind". Performance history[edit]

Poster for an 1884 American production starring Thomas. W. Keene.

Pre-20th century[edit] Othello
Othello
possesses an unusually detailed performance record. The first certainly known performance occurred on 1 November 1604, at Whitehall Palace in London, being mentioned in a Revels account on "Hallamas Day, being the first of Nouembar", 1604, when "the Kings Maiesties plaiers" performed "A Play in the Banketinge house at Whit Hall Called The Moor of Venis". The play is there attributed to "Shaxberd".[39] Subsequent performances took place on Monday, 30 April 1610 at the Globe Theatre, and at Oxford in September 1610.[40] On 22 November 1629, and on 6 May 1635, it played at the Blackfriars Theatre. Othello was also one of the twenty plays performed by the King's Men during the winter of 1612, in celebration of the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Frederick V, Elector Palatine.[41] At the start of the Restoration era, on 11 October 1660, Samuel Pepys saw the play at the Cockpit Theatre. Nicholas Burt played the lead, with Charles Hart as Cassio; Walter Clun won fame for his Iago. Soon after, on 8 December 1660, Thomas Killigrew's new King's Company acted the play at their Vere Street theatre, with Margaret Hughes
Margaret Hughes
as Desdemona
Desdemona
– probably the first time a professional actress appeared on a public stage in England. It may be one index of the play's power that Othello
Othello
was one of the very few Shakespearean plays that was never adapted and changed during the Restoration and the eighteenth century.[42] As Shakespeare
Shakespeare
regained popularity among nineteenth-century French Romantics, poet, playwright, and novelist Alfred de Vigny
Alfred de Vigny
created a French translation of Othello, titled Le More de Venise, which premiered at the Comédie-Française
Comédie-Française
on 24 October 1829. Famous nineteenth-century Othellos included Ira Aldridge, Edmund Kean, Edwin Forrest, and Tommaso Salvini, and outstanding Iagos were Edwin Booth and Henry Irving. 20th century[edit]

Paul Robeson
Paul Robeson
as Othello, photographed by Carl Van Vechten
Carl Van Vechten
(1944)

Advertisement for the Columbia Masterworks Records
Columbia Masterworks Records
release of Othello (1945)

The 1943 production of Othello, starring Paul Robeson
Paul Robeson
and Uta Hagen, holds the record for the most performances of any Shakespeare
Shakespeare
play ever produced on Broadway.

The most notable American production may be Margaret Webster's 1943 staging starring Paul Robeson
Paul Robeson
as Othello
Othello
and José Ferrer
José Ferrer
as Iago. This production was the first ever in America to feature a black actor playing Othello
Othello
with an otherwise all-white cast (there had been all-black productions of the play before). It ran for 296 performances, almost twice as long as any other Shakespearean play ever produced on Broadway. Although it was never filmed, it was the first lengthy performance of a Shakespeare
Shakespeare
play released on records, first on a multi-record 78 RPM set and then on a 3-LP one. Robeson had first played the role in London in 1931 in a cast that included Peggy Ashcroft as Desdemona
Desdemona
and Ralph Richardson
Ralph Richardson
as Roderigo, and would return to it in 1959 at Stratford on Avon
Stratford on Avon
with co-stars Mary Ure, Sam Wanamaker and Vanessa Redgrave. The critics had mixed reactions to the "flashy" 1959 production which included mid-western accents and rock-and roll drumbeats but gave Robeson primarily good reviews.[43] W. A. Darlington of The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph
ranked Robeson's Othello
Othello
as the best he had ever seen[44] while the Daily Express, which had for years before published consistently scathing articles about Robeson for his leftist views, praised his "strong and stately" performance (though in turn suggested it was a "triumph of presence not acting").[45] Actors have alternated the roles of Iago
Iago
and Othello
Othello
in productions to stir audience interest since the nineteenth century. Two of the most notable examples of this role swap were William Charles Macready
William Charles Macready
and Samuel Phelps
Samuel Phelps
at Drury Lane
Drury Lane
(1837) and Richard Burton
Richard Burton
and John Neville at The Old Vic
The Old Vic
(1955). When Edwin Booth's tour of England in 1880 was not well attended, Henry Irving
Henry Irving
invited Booth to alternate the roles of Othello
Othello
and Iago
Iago
with him in London. The stunt renewed interest in Booth's tour. James O'Neill also alternated the roles of Othello
Othello
and Iago
Iago
with Booth. The American actor William Marshall performed the title role in at least six productions. His Othello
Othello
was called by Harold Hobson of the London Sunday Times "the best Othello
Othello
of our time,"[46] continuing: "...nobler than Tearle, more martial than Gielgud, more poetic than Valk. From his first entry, slender and magnificently tall, framed in a high Byzantine arch, clad in white samite, mystic, wonderful, a figure of Arabian romance and grace, to his last plunging of the knife into his stomach, Mr Marshall rode without faltering the play's enormous rhetoric, and at the end the house rose to him."[47] Marshall also played Othello
Othello
in a jazz musical version, Catch My Soul, with Jerry Lee Lewis
Jerry Lee Lewis
as Iago, in Los Angeles in 1968.[48] His Othello
Othello
was captured on record in 1964 with Jay Robinson
Jay Robinson
as Iago
Iago
and on video in 1981 with Ron Moody
Ron Moody
as Iago. The 1982 Broadway staging starred James Earl Jones as Othello
Othello
and Christopher Plummer
Christopher Plummer
as Iago, who became the only actor to receive a Tony Award
Tony Award
nomination for a performance in the play. When Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
gave his acclaimed performance of Othello
Othello
at the Royal National Theatre
Royal National Theatre
in 1964, he had developed a case of stage fright that was so profound that when he was alone onstage, Frank Finlay (who was playing Iago) would have to stand offstage where Olivier could see him to settle his nerves.[49] This performance was recorded complete on LP, and filmed by popular demand in 1965 (according to a biography of Olivier, tickets for the stage production were notoriously hard to get). The film version still holds the record for the most Oscar nominations for acting ever given to a Shakespeare film – Olivier, Finlay, Maggie Smith
Maggie Smith
(as Desdemona) and Joyce Redman (as Emilia, Iago's wife) were all nominated for Academy Awards. Olivier was among the last white actors to be greatly acclaimed as Othello, although the role continued to be played by such performers as Donald Sinden
Donald Sinden
at the Royal Shakespeare Company
Royal Shakespeare Company
in 1979–1980, Paul Scofield at the Royal National Theatre
Royal National Theatre
in 1980, Anthony Hopkins
Anthony Hopkins
in the BBC Television Shakespeare
BBC Television Shakespeare
production (1981), and Michael Gambon
Michael Gambon
in a stage production at Scarborough directed by Alan Ayckbourn
Alan Ayckbourn
in 1990. Gambon had been in Olivier's earlier production. In an interview Gambon commented "I wasn't even the second gentleman in that. I didn't have any lines at all. I was at the back like that, standing for an hour. [It's] what I used to do – I had a metal helmet, I had an earplug, and we used to listen to The Archers. No one knew. All the line used to listen to The Archers. And then I went and played Othello myself at Birmingham Rep I was 27. Olivier sent me a telegram on the first night. He said, "Copy me." He said, "Do what I used to do." Olivier used to lower his voice for Othello
Othello
so I did mine. He used to paint the big negro lips on. You couldn't do it today, you'd get shot. He had the complete negro face. And the hips. I did all that. I copied him exactly. Except I had a pony tail. I played him as an Arab. I stuck a pony tail on with a bell on the end of it. I thought that would be nice. Every time I moved my hair went wild."[50] British blacking-up for Othello
Othello
ended with Gambon in 1990, however the Royal Shakespeare
Shakespeare
Company didn't run the play at all on the main Stratford stage until 1999, when Ray Fearon
Ray Fearon
became the first black British actor to take the part, the first black man to play Othello
Othello
with the RSC since Robeson.[51] In 1997, Patrick Stewart
Patrick Stewart
took the role of Othello
Othello
with the Shakespeare Theatre Company (Washington, D.C.) in a race-bending performance, in a "photo negative" production of a white Othello
Othello
with an otherwise all-black cast. Stewart had wanted to play the title role since the age of 14, so he and director Jude Kelly
Jude Kelly
inverted the play so Othello became a comment on a white man entering a black society.[28][29] The interpretation of the role is broadening, with theatre companies casting Othello
Othello
as a woman or inverting the gender of the whole cast to explore gender questions in Shakespeare's text. Companies have also chosen to share the role between several actors during a performance.[52][53] Canadian playwright Ann-Marie MacDonald's 1988 award-winning play Goodnight Desdemona
Desdemona
(Good Morning Juliet) is a revision of Othello
Othello
and Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet
in which an academic deciphers a cryptic manuscript she believes to be the original source for the tragedies, and is transported into the plays themselves.[54] 21st century[edit] Othello
Othello
opened at the Donmar Warehouse
Donmar Warehouse
in London on 4 December 2007, directed by Michael Grandage, with Chiwetel Ejiofor
Chiwetel Ejiofor
as Othello, Ewan McGregor as Iago, Tom Hiddleston
Tom Hiddleston
as Cassio, Kelly Reilly
Kelly Reilly
as Desdemona and Michelle Fairley
Michelle Fairley
as Emillia. Ejiofor, Hiddleston and Fairley all received nominations for Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
Awards, with Ejiofor winning. Stand-up comedian Lenny Henry
Lenny Henry
played Othello
Othello
in 2009 produced by Northern Broadsides in collaboration with West Yorkshire Playhouse.[55] In March 2016 the historian Onyeka produced a play entitled Young Othello, a fictional take on Othello’s young life before the events of Shakespeare’s play.[56][57] In June 2016, baritone and actor David Serero played the title role in a Moroccan adaptation featuring Judeo-Arabic songs and Verdi's opera version in New York.[58][59] In 2017, Ben Naylor directed the play for the Pop-up Globe in Auckland
Auckland
, with Māori actor Te Kohe Tuhaka in the title role, Jasmine Blackborow as Desdemona
Desdemona
and Haakon Smestad as Iago.[60] The production transferred to Melbourne, Australia
Australia
with another Maori actor, Regan Taylor, taking over the title role.[61] In September 2013, a Tamil adaptation entitled Othello, the Fall of a Warrior was directed and produced in Singapore
Singapore
by Subramanian Ganesh.[62] Adaptations and cultural references[edit] Main article: Othello
Othello
in popular culture Othello
Othello
as a literary character has appeared in many representations within popular culture over several centuries. There also have been over a dozen film adaptations of Othello. References[edit]

^ "Cinthioʹs Tale: The Source of Shakespeareʹs Othello" (PDF). Harvard,Edu.  ^ a b c Shakespeare, William. Four Tragedies: Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth. Bantam Books, 1988. ^ Young, John G., M.D. "Essay: What Is Creativity?". Adventures in Creativity: Multimedia Magazine. 1 (2). Archived from the original on 20 August 2008. Retrieved 17 October 2008.  ^ "Virgil.org" (PDF). Retrieved 18 August 2013.  ^ Shakespeare, William. Othello. Wordsworth Editions. 12. Retrieved from Google Books
Google Books
on 5 November 2010. ISBN 1-85326-018-5, ISBN 978-1-85326-018-6. ^ Professor Nabil Matar (April 2004), Shakespeare
Shakespeare
and the Elizabethan Stage Moor, Sam Wanamaker
Sam Wanamaker
Fellowship Lecture, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre (cf. Mayor of London
Mayor of London
(2006), Muslims in London, pp. 14–15, Greater London Authority) ^ Bevington, David and Bevington, Kate (translators). "Un Capitano Moro" in Four Tragedies: Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth. Bantam Books, 1988. pp. 371–387. ^ McPherson, David (Autumn 1988). "Lewkenor's Venice and Its Sources". Renaissance Quarterly. University of Chicago Press. 41 (3): 459–466. doi:10.2307/2861757.  ^ Bate, Jonathan (2004). "Shakespeare's Islands". In Clayton, Tom; et al. Shakespeare
Shakespeare
and the Mediterranean. University of Delaware Press. p. 291. ISBN 0-87413-816-7.  ^ Sanders, Norman (ed.). Othello
Othello
(2003, rev. ed.), New Cambridge Shakespeare, p1. ^ E. A. J. Honigmann
E. A. J. Honigmann
(ed), Othello
Othello
(1997), Arden Shakespeare, Appendix 1, pp. 344–350. ^ a b c Paul Westine and Barbara Mowat, eds. Othello, Folger Shakespeare
Shakespeare
Library edition (New York: WSP, 1993), p. xlv. ^ John Kerrigan, Shakespeare's Binding Language, Oxford University Press (Oxford & New York: 2016) ^ Paul Westine and Barbara Mowat, eds. Othello, Folger Shakespeare Library edition (New York: WSP, 1993), pp. xlv–xlvi. ^ Shakespeare, William; Ruffiel, Burton (2005). Othello
Othello
(Yale Shakespeare). Bloom, Harold. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-10807-9.  ^ Bate, Jonathan; Rasmussen, Eric (2009). Othello. Basingstoke, England: Macmillan. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-230-57621-6.  ^ Dickson, Andrew (2016). The Globe Guide to Shakespeare. Profile Books. pp. 331, 334. ISBN 978-1781256343.  ^ Making More of the Moor: Aaron, Othello, and Renaissance Refashionings of Race. Emily C. Bartels ^ "Moor, n2", The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edtn. ^ E. A. J. Honigmann, ed. Othello. London: Thomas Nelson, 1997, p. 15. ^ Michael Neill, ed. Othello
Othello
(Oxford University Press), 2006, pp. 45–47. ^ Honigmann pp. 2–3. ^ "Othello". Walters Art Museum.  ^ Doris Adler, "The Rhetoric of Black and White in Othello" Shakespeare
Shakespeare
Quarterly, 25 (1974) ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 'Black', 1c. ^ Dickson, Andrew (2016). The Globe Guide to Shakespeare. Profile Books. p. 342. ISBN 978-1781256343.  ^ a b Cartmell, Deborah (2000) Interpreting Shakespeare
Shakespeare
on screen Palgrave MacMillan pp. 72–77 ISBN 978-0-312-23393-8 ^ a b "The Issue of Race and Othello". Curtain up, DC. Retrieved 2 May 2010.  ^ a b " Othello
Othello
by William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
directed by Jude Kelly". The Shakespeare
Shakespeare
Theatre Company. Archived from the original on 27 July 2011. Retrieved 20 September 2008.  ^ Billington, Michael (5 April 2007). ""Black or white? Casting can be a grey area" Guardian article. 5 April 2007". Guardian. Retrieved 18 August 2013.  ^ Michael Billington (28 April 2006). "Othello'' (Theatre review) ''The Guardian'' Friday 28 April 2006". Guardian. Retrieved 18 August 2013.  ^ "Othello". Cbc.ca. Retrieved 18 August 2013.  ^ Roy Proctor, "’Othello’ is Honest on Bare Stage," Richmond News Leader," February 10, 1979 ^ Jones, Eldred (1971). Othello's Countrymen. Charlottesville: Univ of Virginia Press.  ^ Note also the character of Aaron the Moor in Shakespeare's play Titus Andronicus ^ ""Moor, n3", The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edtn".  ^ Brownlow, F. W. (1979). "Samuel Harsnett and the Meaning of Othello's 'Suffocating Streams'". Philological Quarterly. 58: 107–115.  ^ Vozar, Thomas M. (2012). "Body-Mind Aporia in the Seizure of Othello". Philosophy and Literature. 36 (1): 183–186. doi:10.1353/phl.2012.0014.  ^ Shakespeare, William. Four Tragedies. Bantam Books, 1988. ^ Loomis, Catherine ed. (2002). William Shakespeare: A Documentary Volume, Vol. 263, Dictionary of Literary Biography, Detroit: Gale, 200–201. ^ Potter, Lois (2002). Othello: Shakespeare
Shakespeare
in performance. Manchester University Press. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-7190-2726-0.  ^ F. E. Halliday, A Shakespeare
Shakespeare
Companion 1564–1964, Baltimore, Penguin, 1964; pp. 346–347. ^ Duberman, p. 477 ^ Duberman, p. 733, notes for pp. 475–478 ^ Daily Express, 10 April 1959 ^ Jet magazine, 30 June 2003 ^ The (London) Independent, 6 July 2003 ^ Christgau, Robert. Any Old Way You Choose It, ISBN 0-8154-1041-7 ^ Laurence Olivier, Confessions of an Actor, Simon and Schuster (1982) p. 262 ^ The Arts Desk – "theartsdesk Q&A: Actor Michael Gambon" – by Jasper Rees – 25 September 2010–2009 The Arts Desk Ltd. Website by 3B Digital, London, UK. ^ Hugo Rifkind. "The Times 9 February 2004 "Black and white more show"". Entertainment.timesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 18 August 2013.  ^ "Independent article 25 August 1993. "Edinburgh Festival"". Independent.co.uk. 25 August 1993. Retrieved 18 August 2013.  ^ 5 October 2010 "The Docklands" Archived 27 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. ^ "Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia". Canadiantheatre.com. 10 February 2011. Retrieved 18 August 2013.  ^ "Shakespeare's Othello
Othello
Cast & Creative – Lenny Henry". Othellowestend.com. 11 November 2002. Archived from the original on 19 October 2009. Retrieved 1 November 2009.  ^ "Young Othello
Othello
– The Voice". Retrieved 2017-09-10.  ^ "Young Othello
Othello
– Good Reads". Retrieved 2017-09-10.  ^ http://www.theculturenews.com/#!DAVID-SERERO-starring-as-OTHELLO-in-a-Moroccan-Style-this-June-in-New-York/cmbz/57282b750cf2051007a270c2 ^ http://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Sephardic-OTHELLO-to-Open-in-June-at-Center-for-Jewish-History-20160517 ^ "The Cast". www.popupglobe.co.nz. Pop-up Globe. Archived from the original on 3 June 2017. Retrieved 22 May 2017.  ^ https://popupglobe.com.au/shows/othello/ ^ "William Shakespeare's Othello : the fall of a warrior, 19th-22nd September 2013, Goodman Arts Centre". National Library Board Singapore. Retrieved 5 March 2018. 

External links[edit]

Wikisource
Wikisource
has original text related to this article: Othello

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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Othello.

The Annotated Othello
Othello
Complete text of Othello
Othello
with explanations of difficult words and passages. No ads or images. Othello
Othello
Navigator – Includes the annotated text, a search engine, and scene summaries. Cinthio's Tale – A 19th-century English translation of Shakespeare's primary source. Othello – analysis, explanatory notes, and lectures. Othello – Scene-indexed and searchable version of the text. Othello
Othello
public domain audiobook at LibriVox Othello
Othello
at the Internet Broadway Database – lists numerous productions. Othello
Othello
study guide, themes, quotes, multimedia, and teacher resources Othello
Othello
Act and scene with summary & quotes, analysis, characters, topic discussions. Othello
Othello
at the British Library Othello – Annotated text aligned to Common Core standards. Othello
Othello
Map

v t e

William Shakespeare

Plays

Tragedies

Antony and Cleopatra Coriolanus Hamlet Julius Caesar King Lear Macbeth Othello Romeo and Juliet Timon of Athens Titus Andronicus Troilus and Cressida

Comedies

All's Well That Ends Well As You Like It The Comedy of Errors Cymbeline Love's Labour's Lost Measure for Measure The Merchant of Venice The Merry Wives of Windsor A Midsummer Night's Dream Much Ado About Nothing Pericles, Prince of Tyre* The Taming of the Shrew The Tempest Twelfth Night The Two Gentlemen of Verona The Two Noble Kinsmen* The Winter's Tale

Histories

King John Edward III* Richard II Henry IV

1 2

Henry V Henry VI

1* 2 3

Richard III Henry VIII*

See also

Problem plays Late romances Characters

A–K L–Z Ghost character

Chronology Performances Settings Quarto
Quarto
publications First Folio Second Folio

Poems

Shakespeare's sonnets

comparison to Petrarch

A Lover's Complaint The Phoenix and the Turtle The Rape of Lucrece Venus and Adonis

Apocrypha

Plays

Arden of Faversham The Birth of Merlin Cardenio* Double Falsehood Edmund Ironside Fair Em Locrine The London Prodigal Love's Labour's Won The Merry Devil of Edmonton Mucedorus The Puritan The Second Maiden's Tragedy Sejanus His Fall Sir John Oldcastle Sir Thomas More* The Spanish Tragedy Thomas Lord Cromwell Thomas of Woodstock Vortigern and Rowena A Yorkshire Tragedy

Poems

The Passionate Pilgrim To the Queen

Life and works

Birthplace and childhood home Bibliography

Complete Works of William Shakespeare Translations

Early editions Editors English Renaissance theatre Globe Theatre Handwriting Lord Chamberlain's Men/King's Men

The Theatre Curtain Theatre

New Place Portraits Religious views Sexuality Spelling of his name Stratford-upon-Avon Style

Legacy

Attribution studies Authorship question Influence Memorials Screen adaptations Shakespeare
Shakespeare
Birthplace Trust Folger Shakespeare
Shakespeare
Library

Shakespeare
Shakespeare
Quarterly

Shakespeare's Globe
Shakespeare's Globe
(replica) Bardolatry Titles of works taken from Shakespeare

Family

Anne Hathaway (wife) Susanna Hall
Susanna Hall
(daughter) Hamnet Shakespeare
Hamnet Shakespeare
(son) Judith Quiney
Judith Quiney
(daughter) Elizabeth Barnard
Elizabeth Barnard
(granddaughter) John Shakespeare
John Shakespeare
(father) Mary Arden (mother) Gilbert Shakespeare
Gilbert Shakespeare
(brother) Joan Shakespeare (sister) Edmund Shakespeare (brother) Richard Shakespeare (grandfather) John Hall (son-in-law) Thomas Quiney
Thomas Quiney
(son-in-law) Thomas Nash
Thomas Nash
(grandson-in-law)

* Shakespeare
Shakespeare
and other authors Lost

v t e

William Shakespeare's Othello

Characters

Othello Desdemona Iago Cassio Emilia Bianca Roderigo Brabantio Other characters

Source

Della descrittione dell’Africa (1550) by Leo Africanus "Un Capitano Moro" from Gli Hecatommithi (1565) by Giovanni Battista Giraldi Sampiero Corso

Opera and ballet adaptations

Otello
Otello
(1816; opera) Otello
Otello
(1887; opera) Othello
Othello
(1892; overture) The Moor's Pavane
The Moor's Pavane
(1949; ballet) Othello
Othello
(1998; ballet score) Bandanna (1999; opera)

Films

1922 1951 1955 1965 1995

TV

1965 1981 1990 1994 2001

Stage adaptations

Masquerade (1835) Othello
Othello
(1951) Catch My Soul
Catch My Soul
(US; 1969) Catch My Soul
Catch My Soul
(UK; 1970)

Film adaptations

Jubal (1956) All Night Long (1962) Catch My Soul
Catch My Soul
(1974) Kaliyattam
Kaliyattam
(1997) O (2001) Eloise (2002) Souli (2004) Omkara (2006) Jarum Halus
Jarum Halus
(2008)

From Verdi

Otello
Otello
(1906; film) Othello Ballet Suite/Electronic Organ Sonata No. 1
Othello Ballet Suite/Electronic Organ Sonata No. 1
(1967; ballet suite) Otello
Otello
(1986; film) The Othello Syndrome
The Othello Syndrome
(2008; album)

Art

Othello

Phrases

"Beast with two backs"

Related

Othello
Othello
error Filming Othello Red Velvet The Duke of Milan Love's Sacrifice Desdemona Goodnight Desdemona

Story within a story

Carnival (1921 film) Carnival (1931 film) The Deceiver (1931) Men Are Not Gods
Men Are Not Gods
(1936) A Double Life (1947) Saptapadi (1961) The Dresser
The Dresser
(1980 play) The Dresser
The Dresser
(1983 film) An Imaginary Tale
An Imaginary Tale
(1990) The Dresser
The Dresser
(2015 film)

v t e

Tony Award
Tony Award
for Best Revival

1970s

Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess
(1977) Dracula (1978) No Award (1979)

1980s

Morning's at Seven (1980) The Pirates of Penzance
The Pirates of Penzance
(1981) Othello
Othello
(1982) On Your Toes
On Your Toes
(1983) Death of a Salesman
Death of a Salesman
(1984) Joe Egg (1985) Sweet Charity
Sweet Charity
(1986) All My Sons
All My Sons
(1987) Anything Goes
Anything Goes
(1988) Our Town
Our Town
(1989)

1990s

Gypsy (1990) Fiddler on the Roof
Fiddler on the Roof
(1991) Guys and Dolls
Guys and Dolls
(1992) Anna Christie
Anna Christie
(1993)

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 185496935 LCCN: n82049570 GND: 4099368-1 SUDOC: 02736951X BNF:

.