22Blog Prompt #2: Choose one of the following prompts to aid you in responding to your reading of Shakespeare's Othello: (Make sure you cite the # of the question in your response!)
1) What does the Othello have to say about the nature of the hero in general and the tragic hero in particular? How is Othello a hero, a tragic hero. (Consider both Aristotle's definition and the Elizabethan/Renaissance understandings of the tragic hero.) Can we consider Desdemona a tragic hero? Why or why not?
2) How does this play use the distinction between reputation and honor to explore the distinction between appearance and reality? How easy or difficult is it for various characters to distinguish between the two? What does this play say about the significance of trust in relationships?
3) What does Othello have to say about the nature of evil? Iago is one Shakespeare's most fascinating characters. How does he represent the irrationality of evil? How does the portrayal of evil in this play differ from that in Beowulf andGrendel? Note the references to the devil in this play. Who is the devil in this play? What does that say about evil?
4) In a story by novelist Salman Rushdie (The New Yorker, July 2001), a character makes the following remarks about Othello: "Othello doesn't love Desdemona. . . . He says he does, but it can't be true. Because if he loves her, the murder makes no sense. For me, Desdemona is Othello's trophy wife, his most valuable and status-giving possession, the physical proof of his risen standing in a white man's world. You see? He loves that about her, but not her. . . . Desdemona's death is an 'honor killing.' She didn't have to be guilty; the accusation was enough. The attack on her virtue was incompatible with Othello's honor. She's not even a person to him. He has reified her. She's his Oscar-Barbie statuette. His doll."
Is this a valuable commentary on the character? Why or why not?
(excerpted from SUNY at Buffalo English Professor David
Willbern's Website at