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Select one of the prompts below:
Option 1: Renaissance-Era Systemic Racism and Sexism
In the article, “Racism, Misogyny and ‘Motiveless Malignity’ in Othello,” Kiernan Ryan writes:
Although he initiates and engineers its catastrophe, Iago is not the fundamental or sole cause of the tragedy, which could plainly have erupted in a similar form for the same reasons without his intervention. To grasp that fact is to pluck out the heart of Iago’s mystery, which is dispelled by the [realization] that his malignity is not a monstrous deviation from the Venetian norm but its mirror image.
Basically, even though Iago is often viewed as the character who causes the play’s tragedy, Ryan argues that Iago’s manipulations are successful only because of the systemic racism and sexism in his society (which not only infiltrates the society, but also Othello’s view of himself). In a society less impacted by prejudice, Iago’s manipulation wouldn’t have been as successful. Do you agree or disagree with this assertion? Explain using evidence from the text and information from your research.
Option 2: Othello’s Tragic Flaw
As you’ve learned in this class, Shakespeare’s tragedies feature tragic heroes who are brought down by hamartia (their tragic flaw). It’s often said that Othello’s tragic flaw is jealousy, while others argue that it’s something else (perhaps, another flaw that fuels his jealousy). What do you believe is Othello’s tragic flaw, and how does it cause his downfall? Discuss specific sections of the play where Othello’s tragic flaw is evident. Explain using evidence from the text and information from your research.
Support your argument with evidence from the text and at least one scholarly article.
Make sure your thesis is clear, specific, and arguable.
Your paper should be 6-7 pages long.
This essay should be in MLA format, double-space, in 12-point font, with one-inch margins.
Don’t forget your works cited page.