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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: February ::
Othello and Early Modern Italians
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0478  Wednesday, 28 February 2001

From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Wednesday, 28 Feb 2001 13:44:53 -0500
Subject:        Othello and Early Modern Italians

In Othello, Shakespeare's Early Modern Italian characters seem to have
varying attitudes toward Othello's race.  In Merchant of Venice, the
Italian characters seem very ethnocentric, witness Portia's contemning
of Morocco, Arragon, and a whole host of "foreign" suitors.

Would Shakespeare have had sources -- written sources -- for these
"Italian" attitudes?  I realize that I am confusing fiction and history,
but I'm wondering if Shakespeare was aware of the Italian history that
may or may not parallel his Italian fictions?  I'm thinking, for
example, of Duke Alessandro d'Medici, who was of mixed moorish and
Italian blood.

Yours, Bill Godshalk

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