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Epithets in Othello

Epithets in Othello

An epithet is an adjective or adjective phrase that characterizes a person or thing. Epithets can often consist of abusive or contemptuous words such as those directed by the professionally offended Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello. Iago refers to Othello with damning epithets to suggest the Moor as a lust driven animal that is violating the innocent Desdemona. For instance, he calls Othello, “an old black ram” who is “tupping” Brabantio’s “white ewe”(Act I, Scene I: 90-91). He is referring to the fact that Othello is a Moor, or dark skinned man. Iago is also making the insinuation that Othello is, at this moment, copulating with Brabantio’s innocent daughter, Desdemona. In addition, Iago warns Brabantio that if he does not rescue his daughter, the “devil” will make Brabantio a grandfather (Act I, Scene I: 93). Again, he is suggesting that Othello is demonic and comparable to a wild animal. He continues erupting insults shouting that a “Barbaray horse” is mounting Desdemona and that Brabantio’s nephews will “neigh” and cousins will be “coursers,” or strong horses (Act I, Scene I: 113-114). Yet again, Iago is suggesting that Othello is animal-like and that this quality will arise throughout Brabantio’s family. It is important to note that in the play production Iago speaks such crude and obscene language while hiding behind several clustered poles below Brabantio’s window. This gesture reveals Iago’s attempt to remain an “honest man” in the eyes of the other characters while carrying out a plan of revenge. Although Iago’s insults toward Othello appear to be racial, it does not make the entire play racist. Iago is so consumed by revenge against Othello, for passing him over for the promotion that he will say or do anything to attain his “peculiar end” (Act I, Scene I: 62).

Pygmalion and Educating Rita – Rita as a Modern Day Eliza

Pygmalion and Educating Rita – Rita as a Modern Day Eliza

Although Rita stands in contrast to Eliza, they share so many similarities that one could support the statement that “Rita is a modern day Eliza”.

Both Rita and Eliza rebel against the inflexible class system and have problems developing their potential. They suggest that everyone is capable of fulfilling his potential if he is only given the opportunity. And their teachers and other members of their class misunderstand them. Furthermore they reject the traditional role of women as well.

Concerning their characters, Rita and Eliza are intelligent, quick to learn and with a strong individuality.

In order to become educated, the have to make sacrifices: Eliza has to give up her accent and Rita loses her spontaneity and originality. They also become alienated from their working class backgrounds, for they advance socially through acquiring education. Unlike Rita, Eliza didn’t want to change her character. Rita, on the other hand, had dreamed of becoming a completely different person. Consequently, when Rita is happy after passing her exam, whereas Eliza is feels lost between two worlds, neither belonging to the working class nor the middle class.

As to the relationship with their teachers, both students become more self-confident and their teachers become dependent on them, be it in a materialistic or personal way. Yet it is Eliza who complains about Higgins ignorance and carelessness whereas Frank reproaches Rita for her superficiality. At the end Eliza has regained her pride and improved her standard of living although Eliza remaining a social misfit.

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