Othello - Context

Chelsey Swann
Mind Map by Chelsey Swann, updated more than 1 year ago
Chelsey Swann
Created by Chelsey Swann almost 4 years ago


AS - Level English literature (Othello) Mind Map on Othello - Context, created by Chelsey Swann on 04/20/2016.

Resource summary

Othello - Context
1 The most influential writer in all of English literature, William Shakespeare was born in 1564 to a successful middle-class glove-maker in Stratford-upon-Avon, England.
2 Othello is set against the backdrop of the wars between Venice and Turkey that raged in the latter part of the sixteenth century. Cyprus, which is the setting for most of the action, was a Venetian outpost attacked by the Turks in 1570 and conquered the following year.
3 The question of Othello’s exact race is open to some debate. The word Moor now refers to the Islamic Arabic inhabitants of North Africa who conquered Spain in the eighth century, but the term was used rather broadly in the period and was sometimes applied to Africans from other regions. George Abbott, for example, in his A Brief Description of the Whole World of 1599, made distinctions between “blackish Moors” and “black Negroes”; a 1600 translation of John Leo’s The History and Description of Africa distinguishes “white or tawny Moors” of the Mediterranean coast of Africa from the “Negroes or black Moors” of the south.
4 Othello, by contrast, is a noble figure of great authority, respected and admired by the duke and senate of Venice as well as by those who serve him, such as Cassio, Montano, and Lodovico. Only Iago voices an explicitly stereotypical view of Othello, depicting him from the beginning as an animalistic, barbarous, foolish outsider.
5 The Jacobean era refers to the period in English and Scottish history that coincides with the reign of James VI of Scotland (1567–1625), who also inherited the crown of England in 1603 as James I.
6 Jacobean literature, body of works written during the reign of James I of England (1603–25). The successor to Elizabethan literature, Jacobean literature was often dark in mood, questioning the stability of the social order; some of William Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies may date from the beginning of the period, and other dramatists
7 Jacobean period succeeds the Elizabethan period and so it has naturally adopted everything from its preceding era. The gender roles during the Jacobean era were fairly similar to the Elizabethan ones. Men assumed a dominant position in the society. It was the man of the house who worked and fetched for food to keep his family alive. Apart from being the sole bread earner of the family, the eldest male member was the head of the house. Everyone had to obey him and do as was being told. Marriages were normally decided by elders or parents of the bride or bridegroom.
8 Jacobean women continued to live a life that was sub-ordinate to men. They were supposed to obey what was told to them. The main responsibility of married women was to take care of the household matters and raise children. Before marriage, a girl was under the control of her father, after marriage her husband and after the death of her husband, her son. Thus, women were made to depend on their male relatives throughout their lives.
9 Jacobean Tragedy were plays which had a dark mood to the drama. Tragedy plays actually developed during the reign of King James I. Revenge Tragedy was popular during those times.
10 Tragedy was one of the genres which were popular in plays during this period. These plays had a dark mood to the drama. Although tragedy plays were written and performed even before the Jacobean period, it was during the reign of King James I that tragedy plays actually developed. In a typical tragedy, the protagonist or the lead character suffers an emotional loss like death of a person he/she loved or betrayal. The protagonist then seeks to avenge the loss. This type of tragedy was also known as Revenge Tragedy and was extremely popular in the Jacobean era.
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