Shakespeare

TOPICS FOR ESSAY TWO
Topics:
Select one of the following topics about Othello for the focus of your next paper:
1. Never was any play fought, like this of Othello, with improbabilities, wrote Thomas Rymer in a famous attack (A Short View of Tragedy, 1692). Consider Rymer’s objection to the play, either answering it or finding evidence to back it up.
2. Emilia’s long speech at the end of Act IV (iii, 85-104) has been called a Renaissance plea for women’s rights. Do you agree? Write a brief, close analysis of the speech. How timely is it?
3. Discuss the role that race plays in Shakespeare’s portrayal of Othello. How do theother characters react to Othello’s skin color or to the fact that he is a Moor? How does Othello see himself?
4. Do a close reading of one of Iago’s soliloquies. Point to moments in the language where Iago most gains an audience’s sympathy and moments where he most repels
it. Pay close attention to the way in which Iago develops arguments about what he
must and/or will do. To what extent are these arguments convincing? If they are
convincing and an audiences perception of Iago is sympathetic, what happens to its
perception of Othello?
5. In his final speech (Act 5, Scene 2, lines 348-366), Othello tells the gathered
Venetians (and the audience) how he thinks he should be remembered; it is as if he
is writing his own epitaph. How accurate is this epitaph? How well does Othello
understand himself in the end? Compare this speech to we see of Othello in the rest
of the play, and write an essay on Othello’s character and the degree to which he
has or attains self-knowledge.
Audience:
people who, though familiar with Othello, may need a little reminding about particular
events, and who are willing to be persuaded by your interpretation
Purpose:
to present a compelling argument in which you provide plenty of textual evidence in
support of your thesis, that is, your interpretation
Format:
Your essay should conform to the MLA standards for format and citations. If you want
to view a sample essay on Othello, turn to page 1148 of your text. Notice how passages
from the play are cited.
Outside Sources?
Yes. You may use up to two sources to support your argument. You do not want the
sources to overwhelm your argument, so use them sparingly. The basis of the paper
still needs to be your own argument and interpretation.
Length:
three to four typed pages (double-spaced, one-inch margins)

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