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English Literature   >   Shakespeare: Othello

Introduction: Part I

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Shakespeare: Othello

In this twenty-one part course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores Shakespeare’s Othello. We begin with a broad introduction to the historical, political and intellectual context of early 17th-century England, before going through the play scene-by-scene, providing close reading and detailed analysis, with commentary on character, plot, themes and motifs, language, symbolism, and more.

Note: We used the Arden edition of the play (Third Series, Revised Edition, ed. E. A. J. Honigmann). Students using a different version of the play may encounter slight differences in both the text and line numbers.

Introduction: Part I

In this module, we provide a broad introduction to the play, focusing in particular on: (i) the period in Shakespeare’s career in which ‘Othello was written, and the other plays written around the same time; (ii) the differences between the original version of the Othello story in Cinthio’s ‘Hecatommithi’ (1565) and Shakespeare’s play (1603); (iii) the Neoplatonic concept of the Harmony of the Spheres and its relation to the nature of Shakespearean tragedy (and comedy); and (iv) a reading of the play as a tragedy of false comedy.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McRae, J. (2019, January 27). Shakespeare: Othello - Introduction: Part I [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Shakespeare: Othello – Introduction: Part I." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 27 Jan 2019,

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Prof. John McRae

Prof. John McRae

Nottingham University