Othello: Quarto 1 and the First Folio

The first thing I noticed when viewing these tow versions of Shakespeare’s tragic masterpiece was the spelling of tragedy. In Quarto 1 (the earlier version) tragedy was spelled exactly how it is today. However, the First Folio had it spelled “Tragedie” which at first just seemed archaic but then reminded me that tragedies usually involve the death of several characters. This made me wonder if that is where the word came from since it contains the word “die” in its archaic spelling.

I also noticed that the quarto 1 version did not appear to have any division between the scenes. It did contain stage directions, but there was no “scene two” marker like in other versions of Othello. The words at the bottom of the page seemed silly at first, but I now believe that they are there to help actors who are memorizing their lines. This way, there is no need for even the shortest pause while they turn the page, so the words can come out more eloquently. Putting in this extra word in the bottom right hand corner would be a nice addition to any play which people will be acting out.

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