Final Assignment

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Final Writing Assignment:

Documented Analytical Research Paper on a Play

Assignment Description:

For your final assignment, provide a documented analysis of Othello’s play.

When you develop your theme (meaning) remember to connect it to one of three things:

· Human Nature

· Society

· Culture

Do not give me a “one word” theme such as, “The theme of Othello is jealousy.” Immediately, I will ask, “so what about jealousy?” What about jealousy relates to human nature or society or culture? Do not develop a “summary theme” such as: “Othello is about a couple who go through jealousy problems.”

Once you have developed a theme, decide what three elements of drama the playwright uses to advance that theme.

· Plot & Structure

· Character

· Setting

· Point of View

· Language / Dialog

· Irony

· Symbolism

· Imagery

· Stage Direction

Your paper will be written in the research paper format (refer to the “Research Paper Template” file the I have posted). Every specific support (which will now become individual paragraphs)
MUST include your point, a direct quote from the play, a direct quote from a critic, and you explanation (analysis). Basically, this expands the PIE specific support to P-I-I-E!

The first paragraph should include
ALL of the following:

· A motivator sentence.

· The title of the play.

· The full name of the playwright.

· A clearly defined theme.

· A clearly identified blueprint (with three elements of drama that advances the theme).

Refer to the sample student papers I have posted on Moodle.

You are required to include a works cited page as part of your research paper. Remember, your

works cited page is the last page of your research paper, but you may not use it as part of the

page count for the assignment.
For instance, the research paper assignment calls for a paper 7-9 pages in length. That is seven pages of your text, minimum,
PLUS a works cited page. You do
need to cite the pages(s) for Shakespeare’s Othello, the act, scene,
line numbers

Here are a few pointers on MLA and drama citations:

· Remember to always introduce your quotes. Example: Shakespeare writes, “play quote here” (citation).

· One to four lines of your typed text needs to be formatted as an in-sentence quote. If you are citing Othello, be sure to include forward slashed “/” between the lines in the play.

· For five or more lines, use a block quote and revert to normal punctuation.

This is a research paper and is difficult to write. Give yourself plenty of time to read the various

critiques by the critics and extract pertinent quotes for your specific supports. I always suggest

looking at what the critics are writing first and develop your paper from the specific supports out. You now must back your points in your specific supports not only with quotes from the play, but also expert testimony (the critics).

I will provide feedback on any aspect of your paper (MLA, format, content, etc.) as soon as you provide a rough draft to me (don’t forget to submit a near complete draft of your research paper or a complete draft, works cited page and all)! You will have ample time for revisions, but please remember to indicate what draft number I am reading. As always, email me with any questions!

Assignment Goals:

• To write a college level documented literature analysis research paper in MLA format.

• To develop a concise theme connected to human nature or culture or society.

• To identify major elements of drama used to support your theme.

• To articulate analysis and specific supports, with direct quotes from the play and scholarly sources that back the major points and theme of the paper.

Grading Criteria:

• Is the research paper clearly written and well organized?

• Is there a clearly developed theme?

• Are specific supports presented in the ‘PIIE’ format with direct quotes from the play and

sources used as illustrations?

• Proper MLA format and citation of the play and other sources used.

• Evidence of proofreading/ editing.

Additional Requirements:

Minimum of seven full pages, no more than nine pages in length plus a works cited page.

• Five sources minimum. One source is the play. You need to use scholarly sources from

the college database. Do not use sources such as Spark Notes, Homework Help, the

dictionary, etc.

• Please provide me with a clean copy of the final draft of your research paper for grading

ENG 102 Research Paper Template

Paragraph 1: Introduction Paragraph
Motivator ________________________
Theme ___________________________
Element of Drama: A______________________

Paragraph 2: Brief Introduction Paragraph for Point “A”
Element of Drama “A”: ______________________
Mini Blueprint
Point A1 _______________
Point A2 _______________

Paragraph 3: Specific Support Paragraph (A1)
Point _____________________________
Illustration (direct quote from play)___________________
Illustration (direct quote from critic)__________________
Explanation / analysis (yours)__________________

Paragraph 4: Specific Support Paragraph (A2)
Point _____________________________
Illustration (direct quote from play)___________________
Illustration (direct quote from critic)__________________
Explanation / analysis (yours)__________________

Paragraph 5: Brief Introduction Paragraph for Point “B”
Element “B”: ______________________
Mini Blueprint
B1 _______________
B2 _______________

Paragraph 6: Specific Support Paragraph (B1)
Point _____________________________
Illustration (direct quote from play)___________________
Illustration (direct quote from critic)__________________
Explanation / analysis (yours)__________________

Paragraph 7: Specific Support Paragraph (B2)
Point _____________________________
Illustration (direct quote from play)___________________
Illustration (direct quote from critic)__________________
Explanation / analysis (yours)__________________

Paragraph 8: Brief Introduction Paragraph for Point “C”
Element “C” ______________________
Mini Blueprint
C1 _______________
C2 _______________

Paragraph 9: Specific Support Paragraph (C1)
Point _____________________________
Illustration (direct quote from play)___________________
Illustration (direct quote from critic)__________________
Explanation / analysis (yours)__________________

Paragraph 10: Specific Support Paragraph (C2)
Point _____________________________
Illustration (direct quote from play)___________________
Illustration (direct quote from critic)__________________
Explanation / analysis (yours)__________________

Paragraph 11: Conclusion Paragraph
Reworded Thesis /Theme__________________________
Reworded Motivator (Clincher)_______________

Note: If your paper is too short, you may add specific support paragraphs as needed.

Student 1


Mr. Randy Martin

Eng 102 MW

6 December 2010

The Tragedy of Othello

The “Devil” throughout the ages has been referred to by many names; accuser, adversary,

enemy, and thief among others, no matter what title is given he is universally accepted as the

purest and ultimate form of evil. In William Shakespeare’s play, The Tragedy of Othello,

Shakespeare uses the element of drama of character to create a villain that embodies absolute

wickedness, a human form of the author of evil. The character Shakespeare creates to serve as

the ultimate antagonist is none other than “honest Iago.” Iago’s character is the best

representation of an elusive villain whose clever abilities to deceive and persuade bring

catastrophic destruction like that of an unexpected, nearly invisible black ice. Shakespeare uses

the character to advance the theme that mankind has the ability to be influenced and even driven

to engage in repulsive and devastatingly horrendous acts towards to each other. Iago himself is

driven and influences the actions Casio, Othello, and Rodrigo.

Spurred by jealousy and the pain of an injured pride Iago observes the man who was

granted/appointed the position he believed to have deserved and conceives a plan for taking

Cassio(this man) out. The character Cassio is deceived and manipulated by Iago in two manners.

First Iago sets up Cassio to betray himself and be demoted and then later uses Cassio as a pawn

to play into an even greater and more elaborate act of revenge against Othello.

Giving into anger and jealousy, Iago devises a plan to crush Cassio and satiate the pain of

Student 2

being passed over,

Shakespeare writes:

I: With as little

a web as this will I ensnare as great a fly as Cassio. Ay, smile upon her, do!

I will gyve thee in thine own courtship…

If such tricks as these strip you out of your lieutenantry, (2.1.162-4)

Critic August Schlegel notes, “…he spreads his nets with a skill which nothing can escape.” The

devastation of being passed over for the position drove Iago to exact revenge on the unknowing

bystander, Cassio. Pride is a powerful internal motivator that takes a tremendous toll on those

who allow it contribute to their actions or control their thoughts. It is easy to give into the

feelings of being wronged and turn an evil eye rather than applauding another in their success.

More commonly found in relationships is the mentality of if I can’t have him nobody will.

With ease and grace Iago is able to show Cassio false sympathy and gain trust that allows

him to direct Cassio’s actions, by creating false hope. Shakespeare writes:

I: …, I could heartily wish this had not

befall’n; but since it is as it is, mend it for your own good.(2.3.270-1)

I: I tell you what you

shall do. Our general’s wife is now the general…

confess yourself freely to her; importune her help

to put you in your place again. She is of so free, so kind, so apt, so blessed a

disposition she holds it a vice in her goodness not to do more than she

is requested. This broken joint between you and her husband entreat her to

splinter; and my fortunes against any lay worth naming, this crack of your love

shall grow stranger than it was before. (2.3.280,283-8)

Student 3

Critic Schlegel continues with, “Cool, discontented, and morose, arrogant where he dare be so,

but humble and insinuating when it suits his purposes,” Humans are clever creatures driven at the

root by survival and have an innate ability to do whatever it takes to get what they need.

Unfortunately the “need” perceived can be distorted.

Driven by his need to subdue his anger, Iago remains focused on the object of his hatred,

Othello. Iago becomes the Johnny Apple Seed of destruction, going about planting seeds of

doubt where there is none. Not only does Iago cause Othello to doubt, but in doing so perverts

his perception to the point of complete self-deception. Othello turns against what he knows to be

right, resulting in the loss of his love and his life.

Converting his hatred into action Iago lays the foundation of his destructive scheme deep

in the subconscious of Othello. Shakespeare writes:

I: Ha! I like not that.

O: What dost thou say?

I: Nothing, my lord; or if—I know not what.

O: Was not that Cassio parted from my wife?

I: Cassio, my lord? No, sure, I cannot think it

That he would steal away so guilty-like,

Seeing you coming.(3.3.35-40)

Shakespeare continues to have Iago hiss thoughts of suspicion into Othello’s unsuspecting mind

when he writes:

I: My noble lord—

O: What dost thou say, Iago?

I: Did Michael Cassio, when you wooed my lady,

Student 4

Know of your love?

O: He did, from first to last. Why dost thou ask?

I: But for a satisfaction of my thought,

No further harm.(3.3.92-9)

I: O, beware, my lord, of jealousy! (3.3.165)

Critics Bryan Reynolds and Joseph Fitzpatrick write, “Iago”s method in toying with and

eventually reversing Othello’s Christian beliefs can best be seen by looking closely at act 3,

Scene 3, where Iago set to work on Othello…Under Iago’s influence, Othello never confronts

Desdemona with the actual accusation of adultery until he has already passed sentence on her.”

A known tactic of the “Adversary”, “Enemy”, “the Author of Lies” is to gain access to the mind

by a sliver of truth. The human mind is a powerful device and belief serves as a fuel for the mind

to create thoughts and produce actions. When even an ounce of doubt enters the mind it is like

acid to faith and completely destroys the beliefs and values of any individual that does not

eliminate it.

The poison of confusion and doubt that Iago has delivered to Othello intoxicates his

senses and his ability to make rash decisions. Othello is so torn he doesn’t even know what to

think and then there is no going back. This is evident when Shakespeare writes:

O: By the world,

I think my wife be honest, and think she is not;

I think that thou are just, and think thou are not. (3.3.380-3)

O: O, blood, blood, blood!

I: Patience I say. Your mind may change.

O:Never, Iago. Like to the Pontic Sea,

Student 5

Whose icy current and compulsive course.

Nev’r keeps retireing ebb, but keeps due on…

Even so bloody thoughts, with violent pace,

Shall nev’r look back, nev’r ebb to humble love,(3.3.448-52,453-5)

As C.F. Burgess argues, “the unequivocal world of military life leaves Othello unprepared for

“the labyrinthine twists and turns and impossible alternatives which Iago offers him and with

which his mind – untrained in complexities, innuendoes, and seeming facts – cannot cope” (qtd.

in Wood). It is a slippery slope once the foundation of beliefs and morals have been

compromised. So many times society encounters criminals that the world looks at and naively

says, “he/she would never do that, that’s just not the type of person they are,” surprisingly

enough whether a person has never been that type of person to commit a heinous act it still

happens. Deception, confusion, and loss of morality can happen to anybody.

Sin, like cigarette smoke, is at first offensive and repulsive, but the longer it lingers the

less noticeable and more tolerable it becomes. Iago’s interaction and relationship is lost in this

type of sin and smoke. Iago continually exploits Rodrigo’s weak will and strong desire for

Desdemona. He plays Rodrigo against Cassio to get at Othello. As Iago continues his trend of

manipulation by stealing from Rodrigo and using him to bring down Cassio, Rodrigo is

convinced that his actions will gain him his desire. Pursue of his carnal desires leads to un-

fulfillment, complete loss and death.

Rodrigo is uncertain how to get what he wants and puts all power in Iago’s hands.

Shakespeare writes:

R: Iago?

I: What say’st thou, noble heart?

Student 6

R: What will I do, think’st thou?(1.2.295-7)

R: What should I do? I confess it is my shame to be so fond, but it is not

In my virtue to amend it.(1.2.308-9)

I: Thou are sure of me. Go, make money. (1.2.340)

R: I’ll sell my land.(1.2.350)

Critic Daniel Stempel writes, “Iago, as I have suggested, is entirely unconcerned with the moral

consequences of choice; it is all one to him,” Many friendships and relationships fall victim to

disillusionment and even betrayal. When motives and desires are selfish ones, it becomes easy

to surrender sense in anticipation of procuring that ultimate lust.

Rodrigo is left unsatisfied and is ready to quit his pursuit when Iago wraps the coils of

temptation even tighter and enforces his demands. Shakespeare writes:

I: First, I must tell the this: Desdemona is directly in love with him.

R:With him? Why,’tis not possible. (2.1.208-10)

I: Provoke him that he may; for even out of that will I cause these of Cyrus to


So shall you have a shorter journey to your desires

by the means I shall then have to prefer them: and the impediment most

profitably removed without the which there were no expectation of our


R: I will do this if you can bring it to any opportunity. (2.1.249-255)

Schlegel highlights why Iago is so successful in his pursuit to manipulate when he writes, “he is

thoroughly skilled in rousing the passions of others, and availing himself of every opening which

they give him: he is as excellent an observer of men as anyone can be who is unacquainted with

Student 7

higher motives of actions from his own experience; there is always some truth in his malicious

observations on them.” Humans by nature pursue pleasure, whether it be as basic as water to

satiate their thirst or as complex as a friendship with the owner of a company in hope of securing

a job to make more money in order to buy that Cadillac at the dealership. Whatever the pleasure

may be it is common to become addicted and even enslaved to the craving for pleasure. An

individual who is blinded by greed or lust turns victim of their own desires.

The sinister conductor that is the character of Iago was corrupted by a single hurt feeling.

That hurt feeling gave way to anger and hatred and a desire for vengeance. In Shakespeare’s The

Tragedy of Othello character is used as an element of drama to advance the theme that mankind

is susceptible to influence and of being persuaded to abandon their morals and succumb to their

carnal and lofty desires even to the point of unrecognizable horrors.

Student 8

Works Cited

Fitzpatrick, Joseph and Reynolds, Bryan. “Venetian Ideology or Transversal Power?

Iago’s Motives and the Means.” Shakespearean Criticism.

Ed. Michelle Lee. Vol. 122. Detroit: Gale. From Literature Resource Center. Web.


Schlegel, August W. “Criticisms on Shakespeare’s Tragedies.” Shakespearean Criticism.

Ed. Mark W. Scott. Vol. 4. Detroit: Gale Research, 1987. From Literature Resource

Center. Web. 12/6/2010.

Stempel, Daniel. “The Silence of Iago.” Shakespearean Criticism. Ed. Dana Ramel

Barnes. Vol. 35. Detroit: Gale Research, 1997 Literature Resource Center Gale. Cochise

College. 22 Nov. 2010 Web.

Shakespeare, William. “The Tragedy of Othello.” Literature: Reading Fiction, Poetry,and

Drama. 6th ed. Robert DiYanni, Ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2007. 1455-542. Print.

Wood, Sam. “Where Iago Lies: Home, honesty and the Turk in Othello.” Early Modern

Literary Studies. Vol. 14. .3 (Jan. 2009): Literature Resource Center. Gale. Cochise

College. 22 Nov. 2010 Web

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