by Samantha Stier – 14 Oct 2004
‘Oh Lord, Lord, Lord!’ Desdemona screams as Othello smothers her to death with his bare hands. The woman he loved, he kills.
The man he trusted is evil. Only when it is too late does Othello realize he has been tricked. Too late, because two lie dead – by his hand.
Is it any wonder the 11th grade was intrigued by this dramatic Shakespeare play?
When our teacher, Ms. Eliot, told us we would be studying ìOthelloî in the first part of our Shakespeare seminar, we cannot pretend we were not a little annoyed.
We have spent the last three years studying, watching and performing in various Shakespeare plays, and the thought of picking apart yet another was not welcome.
The Sunday night performance of ìOthelloî at Shakespeare and Co. completely changed our minds. We had not realized how fascinating the play was.
The irony, the emotions, the motives, all weave together this amazing story of one man, Othello, whose only crime was to love ìnot wisely, but too well.î Shakespeare created an immortal character in Othello, the black moor of Venice, who marries a beautiful woman, Desdemona.
Iago, the villain of the play, brilliantly and cunningly manipulates Othelloís mind to the point where he dismisses his most loyal and honorable lieutenant with whom he believes his wife is unfaithful.
Sometimes described as the most dramatic of Shakespeare plays, ìOthelloî stands apart from the other tragedies. Othello is possibly the most intricate of characters, and Iago seems to epitomize evil throughout time.
In our first seminars, we discussed this play, arguing about the way Shakespeare depicts women. We talked about Desdemonaís last words: when asked who had strangled her, she did not tell the truth: that it was her husband, and instead put the blame on herself.
We wondered how it was possible, if you loved someone as much as Othello loved Desdemona, to kill her over flimsy evidence like Iago had given. We wondered if it were possible to love someone so much you went on loving them even as they murdered you.
We have almost finished all five acts, and it is only the first week of classes. Next week, we will start on ìHamlet.î For homework we have to find quotes in the play to present to the class.
Ms. Eliot also has us do other unique work, like acting out scenes from the play, writing about our trip to Hi-Rock – in Shakespearian – and reading an article in the New Yorker about Shakespeare.
We have a lot of fun in this seminar block, and itís a great way to start out the new school year. We look forward to reading ìHamlet.î