Critical Shakespeare Essays

Critical Shakespeare Essays-23
In Shakespeare’s time Othello was performed by Richard Burbage, a white actor who wore black make-up and a wig of black lamb’s wool.(Burbage’s powerful cross-racial performance should not be confused with the caricatured blackface used in 19th-century minstrel shows.) Still, by the early 19th century, a truly black Othello was no longer tenable in England and America.

From the conjectured identity of the Dark Lady of the Sonnets to misprints in the First Folio, from Shakespeare's favorite figures of speech to the staging of Othello in South Africa, The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare offers the most comprehensive coverage available on all aspects of Shakespeare's life and works.In sermons and treatises, English writers like Richard Knolles, who published Shakespeare draws upon the Christian-Turkish binary but also undercuts it by making the play’s most villainous character a Venetian and its hero an outsider.Fearful of vesting military power in one of its own citizens, Venice’s republican government contracted with foreign mercenaries who could easily be dismissed once the crisis was over (as Othello is in Act 5).Venice owned Cyprus from 1470 to 1569, but in 1571 Turkish forces seized the island.Later that year an alliance of Christian powers defeated the Turk in the famous naval battle of Lepanto.In the opening scene Iago refers to Othello as ‘the thick-lips’ (1.1.66) and later he raises a toast to ‘the health of black Othello’ (2.2.29).Through these and other comments we learn that Othello is a black African of sub-Saharan origin.This four-volume set introduces the genres and major works that constitute Shakespeare's formidable canon.Whether readers are beginning with one of the tragedies, a history play, a comedy, or the poems, they will find a full volume devoted to each genre, with thorough analysis of the major works within.This three-volume set comprises a reference covering not only the plays and the life of Shakespeare, but also his world and his continuing influence on modern culture.Arranged alphabetically, it presents the plays and provides details on poetry, government, music and theatre, prominent historical figures, critical commentaries, court life, gender, clothing, set design, characters in the plays, and cultural influences on Shakespeare.

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