Putting Othello in context: a summary of sources

This summary of sources is a quick and easy way to explore the contexts for Othello – from sex in early modern Venice and race in Shakespeare’s London, to Coleridge’s critique of the play and Ira Aldridge’s ground-breaking performance.

Ideas for using this resource:

  • Use it as a handy guide to the site’s rich sources on Othello. There’s a link to each of the items, so you can explore them further through fuller descriptions, accessible analysis and vibrant visual images.
  • Divide the sources amongst your group. Each person could highlight the key facts, find relevant quotes from Othello and share their findings with others. Together you could then explore how Shakespeare reflects or challenges the ideas in these sources.
  • Select three of these ideas to weave into an essay on Othello. Raise your grade by showing your understanding of the contexts in which the play was written and received.
  • Project the images onto your screen and use them as a springboard for discussing key themes and questions raised in Othello.
  • Print out the coloured hand-out and use it as a revision guide.