Othello
Wiliam Shakespeare
Contributed by Karim Chandra
Context

Shakespeare derived Othello from Giraldi Cinthio's Gli Hecatommithi. It is a story that is founded on love, jealousy and betrayal. While the events in these two works are strikingly similar, the characters are different in many respects. Unlike Cinthio's Gli Hecatommithi, Othello dwells more on the nature of humans as well as the psychological elements that characterize their interactions in the society. For example, one of the major deviations from Cinthio's Gli Hecatommith is on the motivations of the character of Iago. In Othello, Iago's motivations are not overly plain and describable. However, in Cinthio's Gli Hecatommithi, Iago appears to be motivated by revenge since Desdemona refused to get into an affair with him.

Shakespeare has also made an effort to relate Othello with the cultural shifts that were occurring in Europe at the time. The most expression of these shifts is founded on the inter-relationships of the Muslims and the culture of the west. It is important to note that Shakespeare writes Othello just a century after Muslims were driven out of Spain. A critical investigation into the interaction between Othello and other characters reveals that there is an element of resentment, or even hate against Othello due to his Moorish origins. Besides, there are clear differences between Othello's religion and his cultural practices. In the same vein, during the time of writing the play, there were religious differences between the west and the east and Shakespeare has alluded to this by describing the hostilities between Venice and the Turks. The foundation of the hostility is that the Venetians, whose majority are Christians, wanted to protect their territory and practices from the influence of Islam from the Turks.

One of the features that have left Othello to be an outstanding piece of drama among the followers of Shakespeare is the presence of a small cast of characters. That is unlike all the other dramas of Shakespeare. As a result, a lot of commentators have associated the play with Aristotelian drama. As a result of this approach, some scholars have deviated from the main plot and concentrated on a few themes in the play. As a result, Othello became one of the most critically analyzed plays of Shakespeare and one in which most scholars have incredibly different opinions. From the Jacobean period to the present times, Othello became one of the most sought out works of Shakespeare across the world.

Shakespeare has presented Iago as a deviation from the traditional vice figures that dominated morality plays. In this work, Iago appears to be incredibly lacking any element of motivation in his approach to the issues surrounding him. He also appears as a highly malignant figure. However, Iago has manipulative and cunning instincts that make him a formidable enemy to have. Due to these qualities, the fall of Othello may be described as a tragic fall, although it was inevitable.

Many reasons made Othello such a popular play across the globe. The most outstanding feature of Othello which makes it such an attraction is the desire of two characters to defy the society to follow the desires of their hearts. During the eras of rebellion and upheavals such as the 19th century Europe, the work gained massive popularity and acted as a catalyst for some of the regimes in Europe such as Tsarist Russia.

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