Shakespeare's Othello Essay

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¶ … Othello

Analysis of plot

Othello is a play adapted by William Shakespeare, in quart edition, of an official manuscript. The play is a tragedy laid out in five acts. The play was written in 1604 and finally published in 1622. Shakespeare seems to have reproduced the original without alterations in the original work, only changing the phrases and words at instances. The plot was originally done in Italian in 1565, whose French translation was possibly known to Shakespeare. The English adaptation was probably not available (Bevington).

The play emphasizes the affectations on the central character right from the opening dialogues itself in the play. Iago and Roderigo refer to Othello, the character right from the first scene in the first act, though not uttering his name. He is referred to in racial overtones, and the reference is very clear. The various name-callings appear as "Moor' (Ii57), 'thick lips' (Ii66), 'an old black ram' (Ii88) and 'a Barbary horse' (Ii113). Othello appears in person in the play only in the act II scene III (I.iii.48). Othello then appears in the last ship to arrive from Cyprus in Act II, where he is seen with Cassioa and Iago in discussions about Desdemona. In Act V, scene I Scene, Othello and Cassio presume that she died before the fighting began (Aajiz).



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He is the central character of the play. He is a Christian Moor and is well built and handsome and has the attention of all that he surveys. His main failings are his race, his age and the dangerous life of a soldier. The Lieutenant Iago plays out a villainous role in the love life of Othello and his wife Desdemona. Iago breeds jealousy into Othello which finally takes a toll of his life (Riaz).


She is Venetian senator Brabanzio's daughter. She is already married to Othello in the backdrop of the play. Though depicted as a housewife of the times, she is also a determined and strong-willed woman. She is capable of thwarting Iago's machinations to disrupt her marriage while responding to Othello's jealousy in a dignified manner.


Essay on Shakespeare's Othello Assignment

Aged 28 years, Iago, plays the part of Othello's lieutenant (also known as the work of antiquity, or the airline), and is the Villain of the play. Iago is a very scheming character and takes pleasure in creating trouble, almost a sadist. He has been overlooked for promotion and has to play second fiddle to a superior Othello, a fact he uses as a front for continuing for hi scheming and manipulations


Emilia is Iago's Wife and Desdemona's attendant. She is a worldly woman, and is devoted to her lover and her husband suspected (Riaz).


This woman is a courtesan (prostitute). Cassio is her favorite customer and he woos her, promising to marry her.

Duke of Venice:

He is the chief authority of the land whose main function appears in the form of reconciliation between Othello (whom he admires as a great civil servant and military man) and Brabanzio in Act I, Scene III. The Duke is responsible for sending Othello to Cyprus subsequently.


Montano is the predecessor of Othello as Governor.


Clown is Othello's Servant. His appearance is seen in two very short scenes Act III, Scene IV and Act IV, Scene I. He manages to add confusion about truth and through pun, in the meaning of the word "Othello." (Riaz)


Venice and Cyprus

The opening acts are in Venice and the action then shifts to Cyprus when the Turks invade.


The setting is the Venice of the yore (c. 1500-1750), a prosperous city in Italy and a model to be emulated by civilization. The population is dominantly white making the Moor, Othello very distinctive (Check out our discussion of the theme of "Race" if you want to know about the implications of this.) the courtesans in Venice are a prominent part of the social fabric in those times. According to the English, hence, Venetian women were perceived as being promiscuous. The play Othello revolves around the suspicions of Othello the lead characters' about his wife's infidelity don't you think? [t]he name of a Courtesan of Venice is vamoosed over all Christendom […] The woman that professeth this trade is called in the Italian tongue Cotezana, which word is derived from the Italian word cortesia that signifiethcourtesie. Because these kinds of women are said to receive courtesies of their favorites […] As for the number of these Venetian courtesans it is very great. For it is thought there are of them in the whole city and other adjacent places, as Murano, Malamocco, etc. At the least twenty thousand, whereof many are esteemed so loose that they are said to open their quivers to every arrow, a most ungodly thing without doubt that there should be tolleration of such licentious wantons in so glorious, so potent, so renowned a cit. (Crudities)

Actor Paul Robeson (black American actor, was a kind of social revolution in 1943 in portraying Othello on Broadway) opined about the play in these words:

"In Venice at the time [Othello] was almost the same position as a black man in America today [1930]. There was a general, and while it might be useful as a fighter, tolerated as a black New York could save a disaster became a great man overnight. So soon, however, as a white woman wanted Othello, Desdemona, everything changed, like New York, would be outraged if the black man married a white woman." (Paul Robeson)


Eventually, as the scene in the play shifts to a military action in Cyprus, an island dedicated to Venus, the deity of love. It is here that Desdemona is incapable of escaping the wrath of violent actions and military leanings of men. Iago succeeds in poisoning Othello's mind and convincing Othello of Desdemona's infidel nature. In Venice she was capable of saving herself; the military encampments are alien regions and render her vulnerable.

Theme in the play Othello

The play Othello is thematic in nature. Shakespeare's comments on prevalent social, cultural and political situation of the times. These themes are personified through the characters and the background Shakespeare creates in the play.


Love is used to describe the proximity of a couple's relationship in 'Othello'. It is capable of overcoming larger obstacles while smaller ones can wreak havoc in it. Though eternal and lasting, love has been shown as fallible. Desdemona has the affectations of Othello but has no access to Othello's mind. Love is a force that gives Othello intensity but there is no sense of purpose owing to it in Othello.

Appearance and Reality

In the play 'Othello', the themes of reality and appearance are an important vista. As long as Othello the character is concerned, he believes in proof of truth. This is evident in his demand of Iago, thus- "Villain, be sure thou prove my love a whore, be sure of it, give me the ocular proof" (Act 3, Scene 3).


Apparently, Othello is engulfed by jealousy, which ultimately destroys him. This dimension of man's nature is revealed to him by Iago in Act 3 of Scene 3 of the play. Emilia understands jealousy as a part of every man's inherent emotion, which is revealed to Iago when he is in relationship with Emilia. The rage of jealousy in the two men is however very different. Othello's is very intense.


Iago's scheme works owing to the prevalent Venetian culture, something both Othello and Desdemona know very well. Desdemona hates prejudice and does not allow it to spoil her life. She loves Othello and her marriage is always protects her marriage (Bradley).


Othello has lived a well traversed adventurous life in his vocations, as in the locations, that he experiences. Ever… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Shakespeare's Othello.  (2015, April 11).  Retrieved September 28, 2020, from

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"Shakespeare's Othello."  April 11, 2015.  Accessed September 28, 2020.