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1. Shakespeare’s Othello is more than just a story of sexual jealousy or a “crime of passion.” It is also a story of an encounter between different worlds—the African world from which Othello comes and the European world of Venice and Cyprus in which the play is set. As such, the play offers us considerable insight into the dominant ideology or worldview of the European society of the play as it pertains to issues of racial, ethnic, and cultural difference. Paying close attention to the language of the text, and focusing on specific scenes, characters, and conflicts, analyze this encounter between worlds and, through it, the play’s representation of that dominant ideology. In other words, how do racial and/or cultural difference function in the context of the play? You might also want to consider those points where the play perhaps calls into question or critiques the dominant ideology.
Women, especially Desdemona but Emilia as well, are obviously targets of male violence in Othello. Why do they become the targets of male violence? How do the perpetrators of this violence (Othello and Iago) attempt to justify their actions? How do the female characters challenge such justifications? What is the effect of their challenges?