Old Versions of Othello

One cool thing I noticed between the First and Second Folio is the reflection of the drawing at the top, it probably has no significant reason behind this but they appear to be identical otherwise. It is also fascinating to notice the changes in the written language in only years. For example, “ie” changed to “y”, “do” changed to “doe”, and there became a difference between “u” and “v”. Observing the changes in the language before my eyes begs the question: Did Shakespeare initiate the shift or did he just happen to be around when it occurred? At first I had no idea what the text directly underneath “Othello, the Moore of Venice” meant, but then I realized the odd looking words meant act one, scene 1, yet another change in the language!

As far as the word at the very bottom, I have a theory as to why it is such. Perhaps in reading aloud the manuscript during rehearsal of the enactment, the actors would have an easier time transitioning to the next page with little to no break in their speech. This would result in a much smoother reading of the text.

My favorite part about the Fourth Folio is that it lists who each character is, clarifying any confusion as to the relations between any of the characters. The Quarto 1 looks much closer to modern books, in that it has a title page for the story and that cool British seal.

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