NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED089283
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1973-Nov
Pages: 10
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Myth and Ritual in "Othello": A Technique for Teaching.
Holleran, James V.
In terms of structure, the play "Othello" is a distortion of an initiation ritual. Arnold van Gennup, in his book "The Rites of Passage," reduces all initiation rituals into three definable phases: separation, transition, and incorporation. The general pattern of the initiation ritual in "Othello" is as follows: Othello and Desdemona are separated from home (Venice); they go to a land of adventure (Cyprus); and they are initiated by a shaman (Iago) on the truths which they are to believe. In the case of "Othello" the second stage of the normal initiation ritual, "transition," breaks down because the shaman, Iago, does not teach the truth. An initiation ritual also involves the rebirth of the candidate. In a profound psychological way all the characters in the play separate themselves from their former identities in order to become new people: Othello becomes husband, rather than general; Desdemona becomes wife; Iago becomes deceitful; Cassio becomes lieutenant; and Emilia becomes a lady's attendant. The attempts by all the characters to become new and different people generate the dramatic tensions which result in the inevitable catastrophy of the play. (LL)
Publication Type: N/A
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: N/A
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A