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“The Tragedy of Othello, The Moor of Venice” by Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s Othello is a play about secrets, plotting and revenge. It tells the tragic story of Othello, who is secretly married to Desdemona and how the people around them plot to end the relationship (Shakespeare 6). Rodrigo’s business with Iago involves the latter helping him to woo Desdemona. Roderigo is in love with Desdemona and although he has tried several times to win her, he has failed. He therefore regularly pays Roderigo to help him to woo Desdemona on his behalf by sending her presents. Brabantio is upset because his daughter is married to a black man. He states before the Duke that “She is abused, stolen from me, and corrupted by spells and medicines” (Shakespeare 1.3.73). Brabantio, therefore, thinks that Desdemona cannot have willingly agreed to the marriage.

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Desdemona’s strength appears when she repels her father and defends her love for Othello. She tells her father that although she owes him her life and education, her current duty is to her husband, Othello (Shakespeare 1.3.210). On his part, Cassio appears to be an innocent pawn in Iago’s plans for revenge. However, he is flawed because he is too forward with women. For example, he keeps praising Desdemona, and he kisses Emilia in front of Iago at the same time as he apologises for doing so (Shakespeare 2.2.109). Such behavior breeds anger in the people around Cassio.

Othello is a murderer by the end of the play but his potential for violence is seen beforehand when he refuses Desdemona’s invitation to have dinner with Cassio. He mutters to himself: “Perdition catch my soul. But I do love thee! And when I love thee not, chaos comes again” (Shakespeare 3.3.100). This shows that he will act badly if he finds out that Desdemona is unfaithful. Iago views women as deceitful, temperamental, untrustworthy and sexually immoral. He tells Emilia that women are “pictures out of door, bells in your parlours, wildcats in your kitchens, saints in your injuries…” (Shakespeare 2.1.122). Iago does not trust women to be faithful, and in the end, he convinces Othello to also believe the same.

Iago is contemptuous of reputation, believing that it can be manipulated to suit a person’s needs. The play begins with Iago’s complaint about being unjustly passed over for a promotion. This hurts his pride, and in his opinion, his reputation. He tells Cassio that “Reputation is an idle and most false imposition, oft got without merit, and lost without deserving” (Shakespeare 2.3.287). I do not agree, but Iago uses the power of reputation to destroy and cause chaos between other people. He acts this way because he feels that he has been wronged, for instance in losing his promotion to Othello. Therefore, bringing other people down is his way of justifying his loss. He is also a vindictive person, so his actions might be out of spite.

Desdemona seems capable of deception and manipulation when she elopes with Othello without Brabantio’s knowledge. Iago also reminds Othello that “She did deceive her father marrying you, and when she seemed to shake and fear your looks, she loved them most” (Shakespeare 3.3.238). Her willingness to deceive her father shows that she cannot be trusted, and this makes others see her as deceitful.

Emilia is not innocent because she willingly betrays Desdemona for Iago’s sake. She steals Desdemona’s special handkerchief, knowing well the chaos this might cause for Desdemona’s marriage. Emilia thinks that men are perverse and irrational, and her relationship with Iago justifies this outlook. This is because Iago’s actions demonstrate the manipulative nature of men and their foolishness in believing things hastily.

After reading the play, readers should question why most people react quickly to issues based on feelings rather than on proof. If Othello had taken the time to listen to Desdemona’s explanations or looked for solid proof of her infidelity, he would have eventually realized that Iago was lying to him.

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Work Cited

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice, edited by Barbara A.Mowat, and Paul Werstine. Washington, DC: Folger Shakespeare Library, 2016.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, March 12). “The Tragedy of Othello, The Moor of Venice” by Shakespeare. Retrieved from


StudyCorgi. (2022, March 12). “The Tragedy of Othello, The Moor of Venice” by Shakespeare.

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