Othello – Why the Universal Fascination? Essay

Othello – Why the Universal Fascination? Essay

Length: 1942 words (5.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Term Papers

Open Document

Essay Preview

Othello – Why the Universal Fascination?  

 
    Though there is contention among literary critics regarding the universality of fascination with Shakespeare’s dramatic tragedy Othello, among many generations of viewers there is a sharp consensus in favor of the universal attraction of the play.

 

Is characterization the dominant cause of the dramatist’s broad popularity? Harry Levin in the General Introduction to The Riverside Shakespeare finds other reasons for his appeal:

 

 Universal as his attraction has been, it is best understood through particulars. Though – to our advantage – his creations are relatively timeless, they would not mean so much to us if they had not been timely in their day. Nor would they have made their lasting impact, if their author had not been past master of his exacting and exciting medium, linguistic, poetic, dramatic.[. . .] The book-learning that Shakespeare displays here and there is far less impressive, in the long run, than his fund of general information. His frame of reference is so far-ranging, and he is so concretely versed in the tricks of so many trades, that lawyers have written to prove he was trained in the law, sailors about his expert seamanship, naturalists upon his botanizing, and so on throughout the professions (2-4).

Shakespeare’s universality – his ability to please every taste, to win “all men’s suffrage,” in Ben Jonson’s phrase – was compounded out of his very heterogeneity, his appeal to individuals through a concrete understanding of their concerns. (18)

 

Francis Ferguson in “Two Worldviews Echo Each Other” ranks the play Othello quite high among the Bard’s tragedies:

 

Othello, written in 1604, is one of the masterpieces of Shakes...


... middle of paper ...


...sher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Rpt. from Shakespeare: The Pattern in His Carpet. N.p.: n.p., 1970.

 

Frye, Northrop. “Nature and Nothing.” Essays on Shakespeare. Ed. Gerald Chapman. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1965.

 

Heilman, Robert B. “The Role We Give Shakespeare.” Essays on Shakespeare. Ed. Gerald Chapman. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1965.

 

Levin, Harry. General Introduction. The Riverside Shakespeare. Ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1974.

 

Shakespeare, William. Othello. In The Electric Shakespeare. Princeton University. 1996. http://www.eiu.edu/~multilit/studyabroad/othello/othello_all.html No line nos.

 

Wilkie, Brian and James Hurt. “Shakespeare.” Literature of the Western World. Ed. Brian Wilkie and James Hurt. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1992.

 

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Othello – the Universal Appeal Essay

- Othello – the Universal Appeal         For 400 years the audience has found William Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello to be relevant to their lives and tastes. Why. What enduring qualities does the play possess in order to ensure its continuing success.   Does the reason lie in the great heterogeneity of characters and scenes and actions within the play?  Robert B. Heilman in “The Role We Give Shakespeare” relates the universality of Shakespeare to the “innumerableness of the parts”:   But the Shakespeare completeness appears graspable and possessable to many men at odds with each other, because of the innumerableness of the parts: these parts we may consider incompletenesses, partial...   [tags: Othello essays]

Term Papers
1944 words (5.6 pages)

The Power of Self-Destruction in Shakespeare's Othello Essay examples

- Othello, the Moor of Venice published in 1622 by William Shakespeare, one of the greatest writers known in English literature. Othello has been said to be of the most touching and intimate of Shakespeare tragedies. The source of Othello comes from Girald Cirthio’s Tall of the Moor, considering the modification of a few details, this was a manifestation of Shakespeare’s ability to take a reputable story and elevate it into poetic tragedy (Cahn 106). Othello is the story of love, deception, and power....   [tags: othello]

Term Papers
806 words (2.3 pages)

The Tragedy of Othello Essay

- William Shakespeare masterfully crafted Othello, the Moor of Venice as an Aristotelian tragedy play. The main protagonist of the play, Othello, is the perfect example of a tragic hero. Shakespeare was influenced by Aristotle’s concept of a tragic hero and used Aristotle’s principles to create Othello. William Shakespeare attempted to create an Aristotelian tragedy play with a tragic hero and succeeded in Othello, the Moor of Venice by weaving in pity and fear into each line and action. The power of pity and fear creates the upmost tragic situation and follows in accordance of Aristotle’s definition of tragedy....   [tags: Othello Essays]

Term Papers
1286 words (3.7 pages)

Othello 's Downfall Of Othello Essay

- Desdemona’s Downfall in Othello The Christian Bible tells us that “pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18 KJV). For Desdemona in William Shakespeare’s Othello, this is certainly true. Although Desdemona is innocent of the sins of which she is accused, she still bears responsibility for her own downfall. If not for Desdemona’s pride, she could have lived a long and happy life with Othello. From a psychological standpoint, Desdemona is ultimately responsible for her own demise because of her prideful nature....   [tags: Othello, Iago, Michael Cassio, Desdemona]

Term Papers
1737 words (5 pages)

Shakespeare's Use of Aristotle's Guidelines to Tragedy in Creating the Play Othello

- Throughout time, the tragedy has been seen as the most emotionally pleasing form of drama, because of its ability to bring the viewer into the drama and feel for the characters, especially the tragic hero. This analysis of tragedy was formed by the Greek philosopher Aristotle, and also noted in his Poetics (guidelines to drama). As a playwright, Shakespeare used Aristotle’s guidelines to tragedy when writing Othello. The play that was created revolved around the tragic hero, Othello, whose tragic flaw transformed him from a nobleman, into a destructive creature, which would inevitably bring him to his downfall....   [tags: othello]

Term Papers
1584 words (4.5 pages)

Gender Roles and Racism in Othello Essay

- Gender roles and racism play a big part in Shakespeare’s Othello. “Othello is unique among Shakespeare's great tragedies. Unlike Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth, which are set against a backdrop of affairs of state and reverberate with suggestions of universal human concerns, Othello is set in a private world and focuses on the passions and personal lives of its major figures. Indeed, it has often been described as a "tragedy of character" (Locklear). Adding well-developed female characters to the play Othello creates a dimension of gender conflict and feminist views....   [tags: Othello Essays]

Term Papers
1505 words (4.3 pages)

Use of Imagery in Othello Essay

- Before the ability to read words, pictures can be used to communicate to babies or even the illiterate. Pictures are universal. They will be seen as the same language no matter what part of the globe you are in. A good author can create pictures through his words. A great author can create the same imagery for centuries to come. The function of imagery in the mid-sixteenth century play Othello by William Shakespeare is to add characterization and eventually define meaning in the play. The antagonist Iago is defined through various images, some being the use of poison and sleeping aids, to show his true evil nature....   [tags: Othello Essays]

Term Papers
1568 words (4.5 pages)

The Reputation of Othello Essay examples

- The Reputation of Othello         Where in the rankings does this Shakespearean tragedy stand. This essay will explore the answer to this question by considering professional literary commentary.   Francis Ferguson in “Two Worldviews Echo Each Other” ranks the play Othello quite high among the Bard’s tragedies:   Othello, written in 1604, is one of the masterpieces of Shakespeare’s “tragic period.” In splendor of language, and in the sheer power of the story, it belongs with the greatest....   [tags: Othello essays]

Term Papers
1350 words (3.9 pages)

Othello – It Ranks High or Low? Essay

- Othello – It Ranks High or Low?        William Shakespeare’s tragic drama Othello has been given high marks by some critics and low marks by others. Let us elaborate on this problem in this essay.   In the volume Shakespeare and Tragedy John Bayley explains why the modern audience feels so exasperated when viewing this play:   But Othello is not freed by this sense of his own situation: he has been caught in it as if in a snare. And instead of being freed by the hero’s consciousness of things, and sharing it with him, we are forced to stand outside Othello’s delusion....   [tags: Othello essays]

Free Essays
2432 words (6.9 pages)

Rating Othello Essay example

- Rating Othello         Is this Shakespearean tragedy Othello at the top of the rating chart, or is it just near the top. And why. This essay intends to examine various aspects of this subject, along with critical opinion.   This play ranks near the top. The Bard’s presentation of emotions, character, of good and evil actions that are down-to-earth – these are sometimes seen as the main reasons for the high ranking of Othello. Louis B. Wright and Virginia A. LaMar in “The Engaging Qualities of Othello” maintain that the popularity of this play has been consistent for about 400 years because   it treats emotions that are universal and persistent in human nature....   [tags: Othello essays]

Term Papers
1394 words (4 pages)