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Reading Othello Through the Prism of Conceptual Metaphor Theory; Animals as Source Domains

Group publication title:

Academic Journal of Modern Philology

Subject and Keywords:

Othello   conceptual metaphor   source domain   animals


Academic Journal of Modern Philology is a scientific journal oriented towards interdisciplinary studies. AJMP has been included in the register of journals published by The Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education with 70 points awarded. The journal seeks original articles on linguistics with special focus on comparative studies, anthropological linguistics, science of cognition, social communication and literary studies. Since the founding of the journal in 2012, it has been our goal to foster the development of linguistic studies through an open exchange of ideas, while maintaining the highest standards of academic publishing. Contributions are subject to a double-blind peer reviews for authenticity, ethical issues and usefulness. The reviewing procedure is supervised by the International Advisory Board. The articles are published mainly in English, German, French and Polish. Academic Journal of Modern Philology is an open access journal published annually by the Committee for Philology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Wrocław Branch and the College for Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Wrocław.


This paper aims at reading Shakespeare’s play Othello through the prism of cognitive linguistics, more specifically, through the lens of conceptual metaphor theory. Metaphorical linguistic expressions that have ANIMALS in the source domain are extracted from the play so that matters of race and gender could be discussed from below the level of words, where cognition and conceptualization occur. As the analysis of metaphorical linguistic expressions progresses, the representation of evil will appear to be intertwined with the perception of gender and race, becoming yet another cognitive interest of the literary text. While African American studies, critical race theory, post-colonial studies, Marxist and feminist readings have immensely benefitted the comprehension of the play, conceptual metaphor theory promises to explore and explain how a derogatory perception of “Other” emerges in Othello, along with the offensive language that embodies it. Additional relevant concepts that account for the disturbing pace of the plot towards the catastrophe and tragic end are indoctrination and manipulation. These are specifically related to Iago’s perceptual playing around with unstable and highly sensitive notions such as race, gender, fallen virtue, degraded and demonic human nature, which he presents through disquieting mental images conveyed by powerful metaphorical language.

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e-ISSN 2353-3218   ISSN 2299-7164





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Creative Commons - Attribution, ShareAlike (CC BY-SA 3.0)   click here to follow the link

Location of original object:

College for Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Wrocław