Summary Response Outline by Maddie Gross and Sophie Aldrich
Summary: No Opinion!!
- Topic sentence: “Act 1” in William Shakespeare’s Othello illustrates Iago’s racial and cultural prejudice towards Othello.
- Supporting ideas to prove main ideas: Iago refers to Othello as a black ram, and Desdemona as the white ewe. He also calls Othello “The Moor” instead of his name or title.
- Explanation of ideas: Othello is Iago’s commander, a man to be respected and feared. Iago bringing him down to the bestial, base, label of ram coupled with the specific colorization shows a radical racial prejudice. It doesn’t matter to Iago that Othello is a hero and a leader to everyone else, his skin is black and he practices a different religion, therefore Iago must hate him.
- Concluding sentence: restate main idea: “Act 1” in Othello by William Shakespeare shows Iago’s prejudice towards Othello.
Response: All Opinion, however no personal words (I, you, me, my, our, we, us, your)
- Topic sentence: Othello by William Shakespeare correctly portrays the objectification of women in the 17th century.
- Claim 1: Desdemona, as a women, is viewed as mere property.
- Set-up: Throughout “Act 1” Desdemona is spoken about as though she is unable to think for herself or make her own decisions. Her father is in charge of her and her choices even though she is an adult. Brabantio believes that Othello has bewitched her into betraying him with no consideration for the fact that she made the choice independently. When Iago calls upon Brabantio to alert him of Desdemona’s absence he says,
- Evidence: Lead-in: “Awake! What, ho, Brabantio! Thieves! Thieves! Look to your house, your daughter, and your bags! Thieves, thieves!” (Shakespeare, 1.1.80-1)
- Explanation of quotation to prove claim: Webster Dictionary defines thievery as, “the act of stealing another’s possession.” Iago refers to Othello as a thief who has stolen Brabantio’s daughter, Desdemona.
- Counterclaim 1: Although one may think that Desdemona is thought of as mindless property, her opinion is valued.
- Set-up: When Brabantio brings accusations of theft and bewitchment against Othello, he insists that the senators and the Duke should allow Desdemona to testify and give her side of the story. Brabantio, in his effort to convict Othello says,
- Evidence: Lead-in “I pray you, hear her speak. If she confess that she was half the wooer, Destruction on my head if my bad blame Light on the man…” (Shakespeare 1.3.175-8)
- Explanation of quotation to prove counterclaim: Brabantio is an important politician betting his head on Desdemona's testimony. He would not do this if he believed her to have an invalid opinion and place.
- What are the strengths/ flaws of this argument? One may think that because Desdemona is asked to testify she is seen as a valid member of society. We cannot deny that her side of the story is valued in the book however society’s view of women in the 17th century is more complex than that. In the 1600’s, when Othello was written, gender prejudice was very common. Women were not educated, and lived under a strict rule to speak when spoken too. They could not own land, nor inherit money. All of their decisions were made for them first by their fathers and later by their husbands. A woman’s purpose was to make a comfortable home for their husbands and birth strong sons. Women were objects, property, precious bauble. William Shakespeare captures this image perfectly in his tragedy, Othello.