Hope to structure my paper around the Oriental images in Shakespeare’s Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, and Titus Andronicus such as the snakes that Cleopatra lets kill her, even the many references to snakes in close proximity to her character, Othello being accused of witchcraft, Aaron’s likening to the devil, and many others. I also want to focus on the language associated with the characters of Othello, Cleopatra, and Aaron. When discussing these characters, the inevitable issue of race will most likely intertwine throughout the paper as it is used to describe their motives and their inferiority. My central theoretical focus will most likely be Edward Said’s Orientalism. Although he doesn’t discuss the Orientalizing of Africans, I hope to elaborate on the images and characteristics that are associated with the East. Certain scenes throughout these plays such as the description of Cleopatra and her entourage, Othello’s death scene, and Aaron’s burial are all scenes I want to analyze closely and place within the framework of Orientalism.
What does the language used in describing Cleopatra, Othello, and Aaron’s behavior mean when scrutinized with an Orientalist lens?
Why does Antony seemingly become a different more irrational character when he is in Egypt? What is Shakespeare saying about the East?
What benefit is there to portraying Cleopatra as a haughty woman? How can I compare the way she is presented to us in the beginning to the way she is towards the end of the play?
What can we gather from Aaron’s rescue of his son, how can we compare him as a father or parent to his white counterparts’ interactions with their own children? Is he better?
Although I want to talk about the Oriental images and associations throughout the play, I think I might also slip into a bit of an analysis that has nothing to do with Orientalism, I don’t know if this would still my paper cohesive, but I think I can tie my analysis together with the other elements I want to discuss.