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Flashcards in Devices AO2 Deck (22)
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The origins of the tragedy

- 6th century BC Ancient Greece
- Aristotle decided the rules for a great tragedy in his 'Poetics'
1. Tragedy must represent human action
2. The events of the plot are self-contained
3. Events are serious, characters have a high social status
4. Tragedy evokes fear and pity in the audience then purges them at the end in a catharsis
5. A noble character makes a mistake because of a fatal flaw, it leads to their downfall, before they die, they gain self-knowledge


Scene - Cyprus

- Cyprus is an island = isolation, conflict
- The move from strict, civilized Venice to warlike Cyprus is symbolic because it removes the characters from their warlike environment, and the war reflects the domestic tragedy.
- It is unsafe outside the island because of the war, it is equally unsafe in the island because of the domestic war
- Claustrophobia of setting on a small island


Setting - Weather

- The storm of Act 2 foreshadows the destructive passions on the island


Passage of time

- The passage of time is ambiguous, things appear to progress very quickly, but the characters say things which indicate that time moves much more slowly
- It seems as if the play moves in three days. Day 1 = Venice. Day 2 = arrival in Cyprus. Day 3 = Act 3 scene iii to the end
- HOWEVER. Bianca says that Cassio has spent a week in Cyprus avoiding her: "Keep a week away? Seven days and nights?"


Blank verse

- Blank verse = unrhymed iambic pentameter
- Othello uses this



- Speech that has no meter or rhyme scheme
- Used for informal speech or when addressing a character of a lower social status, or when their mental control slips, like when Othello begins to lose his mind.
- Act 4 scene i = Othello is told that Cassio has Desdemona's handkerchief and they've been sleeping together, he changes to prose: "Is't possible? Confess! Handkerchief! O devil!"



- Fancy word for a pun. A word with more than one possible meaning. Example: "bear" meaning both the animal, and "bear with me!"
- Example: "Lie with her? Lie on her? We say lie on her when they belie her!" Act 4 scene i
- "Lie" means both untruthful, and to lie with someone in bed, to sleep together



- "Not to pick bad from bad, but by bad mend!" Act 4 scene iii



- Saying that something is the most or least something
- "Most fortunately"



- Used to show the characters speaking their minds
- A soliloquy is an introspective reflection which communicates the character's inner thoughts to the audience (AO1)
- Example: Othello thinks about how he trusts Iago because he's a man of "exceeding honesty" in Act 3 scene iii



- Short outburst directed at the audience which the other characters cannot hear
- Example: Othello sees Bianca with Desdemona's handkerchief and says to the audience "By heaven, that should be my handkerchief!"



- A long speech delivered to other characters on stage
- In Act 1 scene iii, Othello explains his relationship with Desdemona to the Duke. The speech lasts 42 lines with no interruption. This is a monologue.


Othello's language

- Othello links the battlefield with poetic declarations of love. Desdemona would "devour up my discourse" and "She loved me for the dangers I had passed"
- Grand and dignified language
- As Iago's influence over Othello increases, his language becomes more derogatory towards women. He calls Emilia and "simple bawd", and thinks Desdemona is a "subtle whore"
- Iago's influence = Othello's language is full of hell and damnation: "Fire and brimstone!". He calls Desdemona "Devil" after he hits her.
- This hellish lexis is similar to Iago's: "Hell and night/ Must bring this monstrous birth to the world's light"


Iago's language

- Iago uses varied language. He changes it to take advantage of who he's talking to
- Iago to Roderigo = flattery. "Why, now I see there's mettle in thee, and even from this instant do I build on thee a better option than ever before"
- Iago to Othello = crude sexual innuendo to indirectly remind Othello of Desdemona's infidelity: "Were they as prime as goats, as hot as monkeys"


Situational irony

- In tragedy, situational irony is when events turn out to have the opposite result of what was originally intended
- This heightens the sense of misfortune, as unseen forces and events seem to conspire against the characters.


Dramatic irony

- When the audience had knowledge of something that the characters do not
- Created when the audience has a double perspective of the play. They are aware of their position as onlookers of the story, and also know the character's own viewpoints
- Example: the problem of the handkerchief is an example of dramatic irony


Verbal irony

- When a character says something that is clearly the opposite of the truth
- Unlike dramatic or situational irony, verbal irony can be used by the characters intentionally
- Example: Iago says he is "honest as I am"



- Saying one thing but clearly meaning another
- Usually used sexually
- "your daughter and the Moor are making the beast with two backs" is a euphemism for having sex


Colour paradoxes

- Bianca's name means white. Because she is a prostitute, this created a parody, as the pure connotations of white don't fit her job title.


Double meaning of "fair"

- Othello blurs distinctions between black and white
- The Duke says he is "more fair than black"
- "fair" is a synonym for light colored and also honest
- The double meaning of "fair" introduces the idea that Othello doesn't fit into the racial stereotypes



- When two words which contradict each other are placed together
- Example: Othello calls Desdemona "the fair devil". Fair means honest. This shows Othello's confused attitude towards Desdemona, he still wants to trust her. He also calls her "O thou weed/ Who art so lovely fair". The oxymoron here is that she is a beautiful weed.



- When an apparently true statement contradicts itself
- Example: Iago says "I am not what I am" and "In following him, I follow but myself"