Video Clips

BLOG January 2008

Had a few spare classes with 6th year students after finishing my module early. Some of them complain about having to do religion when they could be doing Leaving Cert study (!) so I got together a worksheet (available on request - use contact link on left) on the moral issues in Othello, which they are studying as part of the English course. I thought it went reasonably well.
First we looked at how almost all of the seven deadly sins figured strongly in the play - they're all there except perhaps sloth, couldn't think of an example of that. Envy is one of the big themes of the play - the "green-eyed monster". Iago is envious of Cassio getting promoted over him and of Othello because he thinks (probably in the wrong) that Othello had an affair with his wife. Othello becomes envious of Cassio because, thanks to Iago's malicious rumour mongering, he thinks that Cassio is having an affair witrh his wife Desdemona. Lust is central too, though it features mostly when Othello wrongly imagines that Desdemona and Cassio are having an affair. Avarice is a strong motivation for Iago - he wants Cassio's job as Othello's lieutenant and he wants Roderigo's money. Gluttony didn't seem like an obvious one, but Cassio looses his job by overindulging in drink and allowing himself to be provoked into riotous behaviour. Because of his unjust suspicions Othello falls victim to wrath towards Desdemona, entirely loosing the run of himself and eventually murdering her. Finally, Othello also shows plenty of pride, especially nursing his wounded pride over the suspected affair, the way he tries to take the high moral ground in murdering Desdemona, fooling himself into thinking it's justified because she's dishonourable and he doesn't want her to ensnare more men! And his final speeches are dripping with pride as he seeks to ensure he'll leave a good reputation behind him when he dies (by his own hand).
Then we looked at how the seven moral commandments are broken by the characters in the play - fourth: Desdemona, it could be argued, dishonoured her father by eloping with Othello (the father certainly felt hard done by); fifth: there are several murders in the play; sixth: there are various hints and rumours of adultery, though mainly it's Iago spreading malicious rumours to bring down Othello; seventh: Emilia and Iago, her husband, effectively steal Desdemona's handkerchief - not a major crisis in itself, but it's a special one Othello gave her, and when Cassio innocently gets it thanks to Iago's machinations, Othello sees this as proof of the affair; eight: Iago's campaign against Othello is based a series of lies that has fatal consequences; ninth and tenth: there's a fair bit of coveting going on - Iago covets Cassio's job, Roderigo's money and even, briefly, Othello's wife.
So much ground to cover - I could have spent a week of classes on the topic.

I got great mileage out of the Three Wise Men in the first week back to school after Christmas. My freshest resource was the recently broadcast Liverpool Nativity (BBC) - a modernised version of the Nativity Story (see below for full review). Junior Cert students were quite positive but some 6th years were critical (they often are, and grouchy too!), not liking the use of modern music in such a context and criticising the acting and singing (I can see where they're coming from on that score). Mostly I just used the clips featuring the Wise Men, and even after seeing it several times I still enjoy it, especially where they bring the gifts and sing Lady Madonna. I also used some poetry, like Eliot's Journey of the Magi, but a few found this a bit downbeat fore the season. I got more positive feedback than I expected from the Powerpoint I did on the Wise Men in artwork through the centuries. Finally I used some music - including We Three Kings, the Roches' version, which was quite popular, especially with the juniors, as they liked the upbeat tempo. All the printed materials I used and the Poweroint show, are available on request (use contact link on left).