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Othello – the Universal Appeal

Othello – the Universal Appeal

For 400 years the audience has found William Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello to be relevant to their lives and tastes. Why? What enduring qualities does the play possess in order to ensure its continuing success?

Does the reason lie in the great heterogeneity of characters and scenes and actions within the play? Robert B. Heilman in “The Role We Give Shakespeare” relates the universality of Shakespeare to the “innumerableness of the parts”:

But the Shakespeare completeness appears graspable and possessable to many men at odds with each other, because of the innumerableness of the parts: these parts we may consider incompletenesses, partial perspectives, and as such they correspond to the imperfect (but not necessarily invalid) modes of seeing and understanding practiced by imperfect (but not necessarily wrongheaded) interpreters and theorists of different camps. Each interpreter sees some part of the whole that does, we may say, mirror him, and he then proceeds to enlarge the mirror until it becomes the work as a whole (10).

Indeed, the reader finds a wide variety of “parts” from beginning to end of Othello. This is seen in the fact of about 20 characters with speaking roles; and in their variety of occupations from duke to clown; and in the numerous scene changes; and in the differentiation in speech, actions, manners between every single individual character.

Is characterization another cause of the dramatist’s broad popularity? Harry Levin in the General Introduction to The Riverside Shakespeare finds other reasons for his appeal:

Universal as his attraction has been, it is best understood through particulars. Though – to our advan…

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… Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Reprint from Shakespeare: The Pattern in His Carpet. N.p.: n.p., 1970.

Frye, Northrop. “Nature and Nothing.” Essays on Shakespeare. Ed. Gerald Chapman. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1965.

Heilman, Robert B. “The Role We Give Shakespeare.” Essays on Shakespeare. Ed. Gerald Chapman. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1965.

Levin, Harry. General Introduction. The Riverside Shakespeare. Ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1974.

Shakespeare, William. Othello. In The Electric Shakespeare. Princeton University. 1996. No line nos.

Wilkie, Brian and James Hurt. “Shakespeare.” Literature of the Western World. Ed. Brian Wilkie and James Hurt. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1992.

America Needs a Tougher Death Penalty

America Needs a Tougher Death Penalty

Pain. Anger. Frustration. Hatred. These feeble words do not describe the anguish felt by the families of murder victims. Ted Bundy was responsible for the deaths of more than 50 young women across the United States.(Lamar 34) Bundy was finally sentenced to death by the state of Florida in 1978 for the kidnapping and brutal murder of a 12 year old girl and the deaths of 2 Florida State sorority sisters.(Lamar 34) As if the loss of a loved one is not enough for a family to contend with, Bundy remained on death row for nearly 10 years. Three stays of execution and endless appeals kept Bundy alive for almost a decade, when his victims lives were untimely and viciously taken from them.(Lamar 34) If a sentence of death is handed down, then it should be enforced, not as a question of morality, but simply as an act of justice.

The moral issue of whether the death penalty is right or wrong and its constitutionality, is beyond the scope of this paper. The death penalty already exists in 36 states, and given its existence it should be enforced. The problem that arises within the criminal justice system as it is currently written in the law books becomes the focus of this discussion. Since the United States Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, 36 States have legislated capital punishment statutes.(Capital Punishment 1992) All but 13 states and the District of Columbia have death as a sentencing option, including Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.(Norman 1) Since capital punishment is already in existence, the problem is that it is not enforced. This lack of enforcement tra…

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… death row for 10 years after murdering more than 50 women. The justice system cannot allow oversights of this type to occur. It is the responsibility of all Americans to take action to reform the current statutes regulating the death penalty and its execution.

Works Cited

1. BJS Justice Statistics Clearinghouse. September 1992.

2. “Capital Punishment 1992.” 14 March 1992.

3. Cooney, Peter, “High court stays execution of death row inmate.” 3 March 1994.

4. Dionne, E.J., Jr., “Capital Punishment Gaining Favor As Public Seeks Retribution.” Corrections Today. August 1990: 178-182.

5. Lamar, Jacob V., “I Deserve Punishment.” Time. February 1989: 34.

6. Norman, Jane, “Iowa remains on shrinking list of states without death penalty.” The Des Moines Register. 4 September 1994: 1.

7. “PD Cheifs: Death Penalty Fails.” 23 February 1995.

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