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Satire in Othello

Satire Examples in Othello:

Act I - Scene I

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"ancient..."   (Act I - Scene I)

"Ancient" here means flag bearer, which we would now call an ensign. This was an incredibly low ranking position and Iago is outraged that he has to serve Othello. In calling Othello "his Moorship," Iago puns on the phrase "his worship," a respectful way to address someone of higher rank. He replaces "wor" with "moor" to mock Othello rather than show him respect.

"To suckle fools and chronicle small beer...."   (Act II - Scene I)

After detailing the ideal woman in a series of rhymed couplets, Iago claims that her ultimate goal is to raise children and do housework. This poem within the play represents a parody of the courtly love poem. Rather than praising a woman for her perfection, Iago’s poem takes a turn into cheekiness and disrespect.

"Most fortunately: he hath achieved a maid That paragons description and wild fame; One that excels the quirks of blazoning pens, And in the essential vesture of creation(70) Does tire the ingener...."   (Act II - Scene I)

Cassio’s description of Desdemona alludes to the poetic tradition of the blazon while drawing attention to that tradition in a teasing manner. The blazon is a style of poem in which the poet lists the favorable attributes of a lovely woman. Cassio performs a short blazon of Desdemona while admitting that she “excels the quirks of blazoning pens.” Many of Shakespeare’s sonnets offer examples of the blazon form.

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