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Shakespeare: Othello

5. Othello

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the critical reception of the character of Othello, focusing in particular on: (i) the influence of Richard Burbage, the first man to play Othello, on the earliest responses to the character; (ii) the various character-based approaches to Othello, including the views of Friedrich Shlegel, A. C. Bradley, G. Wilson Knight, and F. R. Leavis; (iii) more recent readings of Othello that move away from a purely character-based approach, including the views of Helen Gardner and Roger Christofides.

Reading List:

– A. C. Bradley, Shakespearean Tragedy (1905)
– G. Wilson Knight, The Wheel of Fire (1930)
– F. R. Leavis, 'Diabolic Intellect and the Noble Hero', Scrutiny 6 (1937)
– Helen Gardner, The Noble Moor (1955)
– Roger Christofides, Othello's Secret (2016)


In this course, Professor Lisa Hopkins (Sheffield Hallam University) explores six aspects of the critical reception of Shakespeare's Othello. In the first module, we think about the critical reception of the handkerchief, beginning with Thomas Rymer's criticism that Shakespeare could allow so much human suffering to depend on something so insignificant. After that, we think about the ways in which the play has been read in religious terms, before turning in the third module to the critical reception of race in the play. In the fourth and fifth modules, we think about the critical reception of the characters of Iago and Othello, respectively, before turning in the sixth and final module to the critical reception of women in the play.


Lisa Hopkins is Professor of English at Sheffield Hallam University. Her principal research interests are in Renaissance drama, especially Marlowe, Shakespeare and Ford. She is also interested in the influence of Darwin on fiction, adaptation, and the work of Bram Stoker. At the moment, she is completing a book on From the Romans to the Normans on the English Renaissance Stage. She is a co-editor of Shakespeare, the journal of the British Shakespeare Association, and co-editor of the Arden Early Modern Drama Guides.

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Cite this Lecture

APA style

Hopkins, L. (2020, January 06). Shakespeare: Othello - Othello [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Hopkins, L. "Shakespeare: Othello – Othello." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 06 Jan 2020,

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