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ENG102: Writing About Literature (Cox): Home


Welcome to the Research Guide for ENG102, Writing About Literature.  Please use this guide to find resources for your Comparative Essay on Othello.  Please contact myself or any BCC Librarian if you have any questions.

What is Othello?

OthelloAccording to the encyclopedia Literature and its Times, William Shakespeare adapted the tragic Italian tale of Othello to appeal to a British audience and, in particular, to the new king, James I. Shakespeare was a child at the time of the Cyprus Wars and was familiar with the famous Battle of Lepanto—a grand victory for Christian forces that serves as the backdrop to the main action of the play. The religious and social conflicts depicted in the drama reflect events and changes occurring in both Italy and England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello was a tale that, despite the Venice setting, addressed concerns of his own time.

Like Romeo and Juliet , (also covered in Literature and Its Times). Othello was apparently based on a collection of Italian tales, in this case a story included in Gli Hecatommithi by Giavanni Baptista Giraldi Cinthio. The specific naming of Desdemona and her marriage to a Moorish general is owed to him. Other details may have come from Geoffrey Fenton’s Certain Tragicall Discourses, a book published in 1567 that Shakespeare apparently consulted to locate plots for his tragedies.

Read More About Shakespeare's Othello HERE.

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