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In-Class Essay: Othello
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Essay you will complete DURING class on  6/4 (1), 6/5 (3, 4), 6/6 (6, 7)

(you may your Othello book).

 

Choose one of these prompts to discuss.  Requirements:

  • Use at least two quotations from Othello. 
  • Write 3-4 paragraphs
    • Introduction paragraph including a thesis
    • Body paragraphs with evidence
    • Conclusion paragraph summarizing the ideas in the essay.

 

a)      Is Othello's downfall a consequence of his own weakness or circumstances beyond his control? How responsible is Othello for the play’s tragic outcome? Explain your answer.

 

b)       Do you think Desdemona is too passive, or do you think her obedience to Othello is justified? Do you think she could have prevented her own death and restored her relationship with Othello? Explain your answer.

 

c)       In a story by Salman Rushdie (The New Yorker, July 2001), a character makes the following remarks about Othello:  

“Othello doesn't love Desdemona. . . . He says he does, but it can't be true. Because if he loves her, the murder makes no sense. For me, Desdemona is Othello's trophy wife, his most valuable and status-giving possession, the physical proof of his risen standing in a white man's world. You see? He loves that about her, but not her. . . . Desdemona's death is an ‘honor killing.’ She didn't have to be guilty; the accusation was enough. The attack on her virtue was incompatible with Othello's honor. She's not even a person to him. He has (depersonalized/ dehumanized) her. She's his Oscar-Barbie statuette. His doll.”

Do you think this is a valuable commentary on the character? Why or why not?

 

d)      Discuss the character flaw(s) (weaknesses) Othello has that make it easy for Iago to make him crazy with jealousy. What other circumstances contribute to the success of Iago’s plan?

Othello Essay Rubric

 

Exemplary (4)

Acceptable (3)

Limited (2)

Unacceptable (1)

Evidence

Appropriate, relevant evidence is used from multiple sources and integrated well with the text of the essay

Evidence is relevant and valiant attempts are made at integrated text with evidence

Some evidence used and/or evidence is not integrated with the text of the essay

Insufficient or irrelevant evidence used

Connection

Demonstrates perceptive associations and connections between the story and other texts and/or outside experiences and supports these connections with examples from the text.

Demonstrates some association and/or connection between the story and other texts and/or outside experiences that may not be supported with examples from the text.

Demonstrates difficulty in making or supporting an association or connection between the story and other texts and/or outside experiences.

Demonstrates no meaningful associations or connections between the story and other texts and/or outside experiences.

Organization

All ideas are logically discussed; chronological presentation of ideas; essay has an appropriate, sensible introduction and conclusion; paragraph breaks are logical

Ideas are logically and chronologically presented; introduction and conclusion are present; paragraph breaks are acceptable

Ideas are somewhat disjointed and not presented chronologically; attempt at introduction and conclusion made; paragraph breaks are questionable

Ideas are difficult to understand; introduction and conclusion are absent or insufficient; paragraphs are insufficient

Critical Stance

Demonstrates perceptive judgments about the literary quality of the texts discussed and supports these judgments with relevant examples

Demonstrates some judgments about the literary quality of the texts discussed and supports these judgments with examples

Demonstrates some judgments about the literary quality of the texts discussed and supports these judgments with examples

Demonstrates little or no judgment about the literary quality of the texts discussed

Conventions

Few to no grammar errors (does not detract from reader's comprehension)

Some grammar errors with no major impact on reader's comprehension

Grammar errors sometimes detract from reader's comprehension

Grammar errors make the paper next to impossible to understand