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
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