The attempt to solve the moral difficulties of has never been given up entirely, though quite recently two distinguished critics have taken "the moralists" to task, and have appeared to think that the chief excellence of the drama is in its "moral enigma." Professor (Sir) Walter Raleigh has made a vigorous attack, and says that "The moralists have been eager to lay the blame of these events on Othello, or Desdemona, or both; but the whole meaning of the play would vanish if they were successful." Professor Bradley, in a somewhat similar strain, rejects all the more obvious interpretations of the play, because, as he says, they "reduce Shakespeare to common-place." Both alike refuse to give credence to any view that does not make Shakespeare subtle and far-fetched and mystical. They seem ready to reject alike what is common-place and common-sense.
His chief argument against it, however, is that it is not like Shakespeare, adding that "To me it appears hopelessly un-Shakespearean." Ever since Schlegel's time, however, this has been the generally accepted interpretation of the play, though of course there has been disagreement about details. But this recent imaginative criticism has given us a new Othello, a new Hamlet, and verily a new Shakespeare; and instead of the vision and the faculty divine of the great dramatist we have the fancies of the critics. This criticism has succeeded in little, however, but in convincing itself that Shakespeare is mystical and modern, that he wrote with a very vague notion of what he was doing, and that frequently in his haphazard manner he misnamed his plays. It is now time for criticism to reach the conviction that Shakespeare wrote with a very clear notion of what he was aiming at, and not by mere intuition or chance. Only if we take this attitude is it possible at this day to discern the true thought and intent of his dramas.
Othello critical essay questions
Higher English Othello 3x critical essays:
The first is approx. 1100 words and focuses on the way in which Othello's character is developed throughout the play.
The second is around 1000 words and discusses the significance of Act V, scene II of Othello.
Essay three is around 1000 words and explores the deterioration of relationships within the Othello.
1 page of essay questions on Othello
Essay four is on the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar. Approx. 1000 words. The essay explores the theme of revenge.
Essays five-eight are on Shakespeare's play 'Romeo and Juliet'. The essays are approx. 1000 words.
The fifth essay explores the way in which the play portrays the values of its society.
The sixth essay discusses the way in which Tybalt's death scene may be interpreted as a key scene in the play.
The seventh essay looks at the key theme of love versus hate.
The eighth focuses on how the key theme of romantic love is conveyed.
There is also a discussion questions document included (which may be used as part of a whole class activity or as a homework sheet) and a list of key quotes (which may be useful as a student hand-out).
Higher English Macbeth sample critical essays based on SQA exam questions:
9) essay on Macbeth's character flaws (approx. 1100 words)
10) essay on a central character's changing attitude (approx. 1100 words)
11) essay on the way in which a dominant mood is created (approx. 1000 words)
12) essay exploring manipulation (approx. 850 words)
13) essay in which a power struggle is central to the action (approx. 800 words)
These could be used as examples when helping students prepare for writing critical essays under exam conditions.