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Othello: A Dialogue With The Built Environment

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 August 2022

Emma Smith
Affiliation:
University of Oxford
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Summary

In her Shakespeare After All, Marjorie Garber reminds us of the ‘geographical shift … from a civilized place to a wild one, from a locale of order and law to a place of passion and confusion’ that Othello presented.1 In view of the role architecture plays in constructing the sense of place and locale, this article further sorts out how specific architectural components of the built environment enrich the play’s representation of reason and passion, and values and rights. In this interdisciplinary, architecturally centred enquiry, I examine the way these components help to shape themes, focusing on imagery of built forms as a visual counterpart to the play’s verbal narrative. I argue that there is an architectural ‘narrative’ alongside verbal narrative in the play, and these narratives complement one another in the phasal portrayal of Othello’s tragedy. Examining the representation of forms and functions of architectural creations, I focus on the set of generated spatial meanings, demonstrating that strong architectural impressions as well as the interplay between built forms and narrative are pertinent to the delivery of the play’s key themes and idea, helping to build up a purposeful, intricate system of ethical reasoning and assertions. Assigning the built environment a prominent role and value for reading and understanding, I hope to offer a refreshingly revisionist, architectural perspective on the set of challenges that Othello faces in the institutional system within which he functions.

Type
Chapter
Information
Shakespeare Survey 75
Othello
, pp. 73 - 88
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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