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Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work
The incompatibility of Military heroism, and love
– Othello above all is a solider – Desdemona is Othello’s “fair warrior” he is happiest when he has her with him in the middle of military conquest or business – he predicates his success in love on his success as a solider
The Danger of Isolation
-Once Othello moves from Venice to the island of Cyprus, himself, Desdemona, Iago, Emilia, and Roderigo have little to do but prey upon one another.
– Iago is an expert at manipulating the distance between characters
– self-isolation -> self-preservation -> self-destruction
Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, and literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes
Sight and Blindness
-Desdemona is able to see Othello for what he is in a way that even Othello himself cannot -Othello’s color means nothing to Desdemona – Othello is frequently convinced by things he cannot see (Iago’s story of seeing Cassio with Desdemona’s handkerchief)
-Iago is strangely preoccupied with plants – Characters in the play seem to be the product of certain inevitable, natural forces, which, if left unchecked, will grow wild.
– Iago plants his seeds in the minds of others
-References to animals convey a sense that the laws of nature are the primary forces governing the characters in the play.
Hell, Demons, and Monsters
– This imagery shows the jealousy-crazed characters as grotesque, deformed, and demonic -showing jealousy and betrayal
Symbols are objects, characters, figures, and colors, used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
– To Desdemona = a symbol of Othellos love – To Othello = a symbol of faith and chastity – Virginity and fidelity – Manipulated by Iago
The Song “Willow”
– The song’s lyrics suggest that both men and women are unfaithful to each other – Desdemona = melancholy/acceptance of her alienation from Othello