Rebecca Birch
Mind Map by Rebecca Birch, updated more than 1 year ago
Rebecca Birch
Created by Rebecca Birch about 4 years ago


AS - Level English literature (Themes/Symbols in 'Othello') Mind Map on Identity, created by Rebecca Birch on 03/24/2016.

Resource summary

1 Shakespeare explores several factors which contribute to someone's identity:
1.1 Race
1.2 Gender
1.3 Social status
1.4 Family relationships
1.5 Military service
2 Within the play, concerns with how an individual's identity shapes his/her actions are addressed
3.1 Iago never reveals his true identity (personality wise) as a way to mask his true motives. This is particularly evident when Othello calls him 'honest Iago' when he is quite the opposite. Iago's masking of his identity means that he is able to more easily manipulate Othello (and others) as they do not know his true motives behind this
4.1 After learning about Othello and Desdemona's marriage, he says 'Who would be a father!' and wonders 'what's to come' of himself
4.1.1 This suggests that he feels as though his identity as a father and an authoritative figure has been compromised by Desdemona's elopement (which he says is 'treason of the blood')
4.2 He refers to Desdemona as 'a maiden never bold'


  • Act 1, Scene 3
4.2.1 This suggests that he does not know his daughter very well because as we know, she is very bold, especially seeing as she runs off with an unapproved man to marry
5.1 'Let him do his spite. My services which I have done the signiory shall out-tongue his complaints. 'Tis yet to know (Which, when I know that boasting is an honor, I shall promulgate) I fetch my life and being from men of royal siege, and my demerits may speak unbonneted to as proud a fortune as this that I have reached. For know, Iago, but that I love the gentle Desdemona, I would not my unhousèd free condition put into circumscription and confine for the sea's worth'


  • Act 1, Scene 2
5.1.1 Reveals Othello's sense of himself as a military leader -> his 'services' to the state have made him an 'insider', however, we know that the very fact that he is black makes him an 'outsider' OTHELLO'S CHANGE IN IDENTITY 'Soft you. A word or two before you go. I have done the state some service, and they know 't. No more of that. I pray you, in your letters, when you shall these unlucky deeds relate, speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate, nor set down aught in malice. Then must you speak of one that loved not wisely, but too well; of one not easily jealous, but being wrought, perplexed in the extreme; of one whose hand, like the base Judean, threw a pearl away richer than all his tribe; of one whose subdued eyes, albeit unused to the melting mood, drop tears as fast as the Arabian trees their medicinable gum. Set you down this. And say besides, that in Aleppo once, where a malignant and a turbanned Turk beat a Venetian and traduced the state, I took by the throat the circumcisèd dog, and smote him, thus (He stabs himself)'


  • Act 5, Scene 2 He wants his loyalty to the army to be remembered BUT... he also sees himself as a 'malignant and turbanned Turk', which is a hated outsider and their opponent in the war, suggesting that his loyalty to the state has been subverted. Also, Othello stabs himself with the same sword that he had previously stabbed many Turks with in the war, therefore suggesting that he sees himself as a threat to the Venetian State
6.1 'My noble father, I do perceive here a divided duty. To you I am bound for life and education. My life and education both do learn me how to respect you. You are the lord of duty. I am hitherto your daughter. But here's my husband, and so much duty as my mother showed to you, preferring you before her father, so much I challenge that I may profess due to the Moor my lord'


  • Act 1, Scene 3
6.1.1 It is here that Desdemona completely professes her loyalty to her husband, Othello, rather than her father, Brabantio. This goes against the stereotype of the time that women were purely the profession of their fathers until her father passed her on to an approved man. This also suggests that she is tactful, respectful and independent, as she does not let her father's views influence her and she doesn't let him rule her life
7.1 'Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have lost my reputation!'


  • Act 2, Scene 3
7.1.1 Reputation made up a huge part of your identity and the way people perceived you was seen as extremely important. Cassio feels that without his reputation as an upstanding soldier, he is nothing but a beast
8 LODOVICO: 'O thou Othello, thou wert once so good, fall'n in the practice of a damnèd slave, what shall be said to thee?' OTHELLO: 'Why, anything. An honourable murderer, if you will, for naught I did in hate, but all in honour'
8.1 Othello believes that murdering Desdemona was an 'honourable' thing to do because she was having an affair, and therefore 'cuckolding' and humiliating him
8.1.1 BUT...Lodovico says that the Othello that was 'once so good' has now 'fall'n', suggesting that he believes that murdering Desdemona was not the honourable thing to do. This also shows how people's opinions of Othello had become negative as he is no longer the noble general that he was at the beginning of the play
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