Othello by William Shakespeare ~Goodreads~
Published by Oxford University Press 2008 (1603)
Paperback 512 pages ~Book Depository~
Othello, a Moorish general in the Venetian army; his beloved wife, Desdemona; his loyal lieutenant, Cassio; and his trusted but ultimately unfaithful ensign, Iago. Brimmed to the top of the enduring themes of racism, love, jealousy, betrayal, revenge and repentance.
Wow, so my second Shakespeare play to have read and I have to say it wasn’t as dull as I thought it was going to be. Okay so the plot is incredibly basic, and doesn’t have much depth to it but oh my the characters and the language is just brilliant.
We have Othello, referred to as ‘the Moor’ a black man of a high rank in the Venetian army, and in this 17th century society a racial and cultural outcast. However, despite this he has his high status and now he is married to a wealthy white woman Desdemona who is attracted to Othello because of his differences it would seem. She appears as a well to-do lady who defies her father’s wishes by marrying Othello, and yet she is still quite childlike in comparison to Othello. He is a mature soldier who is none the wiser to the ways of women, and his insecurities come to light of being in this society and being the outcast that he is. It’s this that brings this play to a suicidal climax.
Othello being the outcast in the Venetian army, the core to the turning point of the play is where Iago a soldier who was denied as Othello’s lieutenant takes his opportunity to bring Othello down. Iago is regarded as the most devious Shakespeare villain, and I quite agree. If anything he is the best villain, and I thoroughly enjoyed his scenes and seeing how easily swayed Othello is and how Iago cleverly manipulates him. Iago’s lines are my favourite parts of the play, and the language used is just flawless.
I adored how dramatic the final scene was and how it seemed to closely relate to the ending of Romeo and Juliet, although Othello was the foolish one and not Desdemona too. Being insecure and led astray was Othello’s downfall, but I wouldn’t say Othello is the bad guy in this play but most certainly Iago. It is Iago that leads Othello to such a dramatic and horrific end, and so I think Othello is meant to be a good black man who was led astray by a villainous white man.
The reason I couldn’t give this a four star review is because there was so much potential to have a deeper plot, it was a bit too simplistic for me. I think this is a fairly easy play to follow because of this, and you don’t need to understand every term that Shakespeare provides. Studying it for my first literature assignment for year two with The Open University was intense, but I loved analysing it. I would still recommend this play because the character development is like no other.