Your Experience: How Does It Make You Feel?

Reading William Shakespeare is all about reading between the lines. Because of the structure of his plays, it takes some knowledge of the language used to really get a true understanding of what is going on. It is often helpful to rely on other resources and to understand the material.

Othello is a suspense story that has the ability to draw a person into the mix. The characters are well-defined in their roles. Iago is one of the eeriest villains written by Shakespeare if only because he is so good at manipulating everyone around him. He is a wily character and manipulates out of jealous rage, setting up the scene for many innocent lives to be taken or ruined. Even when he gets his way, he continues on with his vengeful plotting. He destroys lives just by using the right words. He is able to manipulate everyone except his wife, who ultimately gets the better of him and exposes him to the people he has deceived. Unfortunately, he kills her for that.

Othello is a good man but insecure and easily manipulated by Iago. He is highly trusted by some and suspected by others. It seemed that Othello was harboring some insecurity because he was taunted a few times about the color of his skin during the play (being called a "Moor," which refers to being dark-skinned). It is not certain if Shakespeare meant for that to be a factor in Othello's behavior but it seems to imply that Othello was probably criticized for it a lot in his life, which then created self-doubt.

Having the villain live in the end of the play when Othello and so many others lost their lives is not common for Shakespeare's plays and is somewhat disappointing. Typically, the villain "gets it in the end." Although Iago's crimes are exposed, it seems unsatisfactory that Shakespeare let him live. It can be assumed that this meant that Iago was going to regret living when it was his fault that so much blood was shed. It can be imagined that prison was not fun during Shakespeare's time just like now. It was appeasing that Cassio was able to act as Iago's guard at the end of the play, living despite Iago's constant attempts to change that.

Your Interpretation: What Does It All Mean?

It seems that Shakespeare was aiming to entertain the audience with a web of deceit, creating an intricately wound tale. This is entertainment that creates an imaginary world and makes the audience wish they could stop the events before they unfold and too many innocent lives are shed. If there is a moral to this story, it is certainly that one must choose friends wisely, be careful on whom to trust, and utilize critical thinking before deciding to murder.

Infidelity is just as catastrophic to a marriage or a relationship now as it was in Shakespeare's time. People today are still killing because of it, proven or unproven. Shakespeare successfully entertains using the common insecurities and unethical, immoral behaviors of man. It sends a message that insecurity and mistrust are key to ruining any relationship between two people.

Your Evaluation

I enjoyed reading and studying Othello. It is an interesting and entertaining story. It has many of the similarities that touch all of Shakespeare's plays but it stands on its own in more different ways. Othello could be any modern man, suspicious and insecure that his wife may be straying. Fed lies and manipulated by a trusted friend, anyone, even today, would be tempted to do what Othello did. The domino effect so realistically portrayed in this play shows what simple words can accomplish.

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