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Shakespeare’s Universal WolfStudies in Early Modern Reification$
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Hugh Grady

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198130048

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198130048.001.0001

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Othello and the Dialectic of Enlightenment: Instrumental Reason, Will, and Subjectivity

Othello and the Dialectic of Enlightenment: Instrumental Reason, Will, and Subjectivity

Chapter:
(p.95) 3 Othello and the Dialectic of Enlightenment: Instrumental Reason, Will, and Subjectivity
Source:
Shakespeare’s Universal Wolf
Author(s):

Hugh Grady

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198130048.003.0004

Othello continues the exploration of the hidden connections between autonomous reason and desire which is evident in Troilus and Cressida, while it largely leaves aside the societal issues of political power and the market. The play probes the cultural codings of gender and male possessiveness, the status of colour prejudice and toleration in Jacobean England, issues of identity and the alien, and the epistemology of seeing, hearing, and believing. Othello is considered one of the most complex of William Shakespeare's tragedies. The figure of Iago is a focal point for one of Shakespeare's most incisive and revealing delineations of the thematic complex known as reification, while Othello is a powerful representative of the new forms of subjectivity arising in connection with the new impersonality of reified society. Iago's discourse acts out a logic that presciently recapitulates that dialectic of enlightenment defined in the twentieth century by Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno as well as key components of the disciplinary society described by Michel Foucault's related theory.

Keywords:   Othello, William Shakespeare, alien, autonomous reason, desire, gender, Iago, male possessiveness, subjectivity, identity

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