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Ed. Michelle Lee’s “Othello” as a Critical Source Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Dec 14th, 2021

In his essay “Othello,” Ed. Michelle Lee concentrates upon different approaches to studying Othello and the contexts in which the play is interpreted; in this connection, he considers some of the approaches by different authors.

He starts by briefly retelling the main events of Othello and proceeds to state that modern critics’ main concern is about the subjects of race and gender in their analyses of the play. He also believes that “the drama is studied by them within the contexts of early modern colonialist and patriarchal discourse.” (3). Here Ed. Michelle Lee tells about Elise Marks’ drawing attention to the uniqueness of Shakespeare’s Moor as demonstrated by several notable productions of the drama. He also explains her thoughts towards the demands of an actor playing the role of Othello. The next approach to Othello considered by the author belongs to Annie Loomba: she also investigates the drama taking into account the realities of European colonialism. At the same time, she underscores the work’s status as the product of a long tradition of racialist discourse. Sarah Deats’ approach is similar to hers. Then Ed. Michelle Lee goes on by saying that Emily C. Bartels concentrates upon Othello’s “attempts to adapt himself to Venetian society through his own testimony.” (1)

Touching upon female characters, Ed. Michelle Lee provides Edward Pechter’s claiming that Desdemona and her lady-in-waiting, Emilia, are both rendered as passive and subdued victims of male violence.

The next passage contains Ed. Michelle Lee’s consideration of several broader aspects of the drama: its overall thematic content, language, generic status. Here he provides Thomas Betteridge’s associating evident concerns with misogyny and racism in Othello. He illustrates the redundancy of language as a central theme in the play, using Iago’s figure as an example.

Ed. Michelle Lee insists on contemporary critics’ tendency to categorize Othello as a domestic tragedy “while acknowledging the political and socio-cultural components of the doomed union between Othello and Desdemona.” (3). In this connection, the author provides Pamela K. Jensen’s suggestion that in Othello, Shakespeare presented the confrontation of private and public spheres. According to her, the drama renders the world of Renaissance Venice “put into the private domestic sphere of Othello and Desdemona.” (2). Then Ed. Michelle Lee goes on by describing another topic of academic interest in recent years: “Shakespeare’s creating a sophisticated religious category in Othello.” (3). Here, he takes into consideration Richard Mallette’s, Richard Wilson’s, and R. Chris Hassel’s points towards definite religious symbols and allegory in the play.

In conclusion, Ed. Michelle Lee informs that “the intense psychological intrigue between the characters of the play has established Othello as a mainstay of modern Shakespearian theatrical production.” (3). He gives some information concerning staging the drama in different periods of time and the impressions it would cause.

Lee’s analysis of different approaches to studying Othello shows that it is generally considered as a domestic tragedy, containing the subjects of race, gender, and male violence. It represents the world of Renaissance Venice and includes the allegorical religious category. It is the most remarkable of Shakespeare’s plays.

Works Cited

Bartels, Emily C. Othello on Trial. New York: Palgran Macmillan, 2004.

Jensen, Male K. This is Venice: Politics in Shakespeare’s Othello. Lanham, MD.: Rowman & Litttlefield Publishers, 1996.

Michelle Lee Ed. Shakespearian Criticism. Detroit: Gale, 2006.

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IvyPanda. (2021, December 14). Ed. Michelle Lee's "Othello" as a Critical Source. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ed-michelle-lees-othello-as-a-critical-source/

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"Ed. Michelle Lee's "Othello" as a Critical Source." IvyPanda, 14 Dec. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/ed-michelle-lees-othello-as-a-critical-source/.

1. IvyPanda. "Ed. Michelle Lee's "Othello" as a Critical Source." December 14, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ed-michelle-lees-othello-as-a-critical-source/.


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IvyPanda. 2021. "Ed. Michelle Lee's "Othello" as a Critical Source." December 14, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ed-michelle-lees-othello-as-a-critical-source/.

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