“Yet That's Not Much”: Age Differences in Othello

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Shakespeare, Othello, Desdemona, age


Critics recently have focused attention on the roles of race and gender in Shakespeare's Othello, examining how the play interrogates social norms and disagreeing over whether those norms ultimately are subverted or upheld. However, in focusing on the play's Caucasian, patriarchal society, critics have largely overlooked the textual issue of age: Othello and Desdemona are separated by as much as a generation. The mature Othello would bring to mind for early modern audiences several theatrical and social conventions, from the Roman comedic tradition to the role of the aged cuckold. These conventions generally are challenged in the early part of the play, then upheld in later acts as Othello descends into Iago's alternative reality. This article demonstrates how early modern views of age and aging work with racial stereotypes both to ennoble the character of Othello and to destroy him.

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Journal of Aging and Identity, v. 6, p. 209-221

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