Custom Written Term Papers: The Numerous Themes in Othello
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The Numerous Themes in Othello
The Shakespearean tragedy Othello contains a number of themes; their relative importance and priority is debated by literary critics. In this essay let us examine the various themes and determine which are dominant and which subordinate.
A. C. Bradley, in his book of literary criticism, Shakespearean Tragedy, describes the theme of sexual jealousy in Othello:
In the second place, there is no subject more exciting than sexual jealousy rising to the pitch of passion; and there can hardly be any spectacle at once so engrossing and so painful as that of a great nature suffering the torment of this passion, and driven by it to a crime which is also a hideous blunder. [. . .] But jealousy, and especially sexual jealousy, brings with it a sense of shame and humiliation. For this reason it is generally hidden; if we perceive it we ourselves are ashamed and turn our eyes away; and when it is not hidden it commonly stirs contempt as well as pity. Nor is this all. Such jealousy as Othello’s converts human nature into chaos, and liberates the beast in man; and it does this in relation to one of the most intense and also the most ideal of human feelings. (169)
In the essay “Wit and Witchcraft: an Approach to Othello” Robert B. Heilman discusses the ancient’s instinctive reaction to the love-theme of the play:
Before coming directly to the forming of the love-theme that differentiates Othello from other Shakespeare plays that utilize the same theme, I turn arbitrarily to Iago to inspect a distinguishing mark of his of which the relevance to thematic form in the play will appear a little later. When Iago with unperceived scoffing reminds Roderigo, who is drawn with merciless attraction to the unreachable Desdemona, that love effects an unwonted nobility in men, he states a doctrine which he “knows” is true but in which he may not “believe.” Ennoblement by love is a real possibility in men, but Iago has to view it with bitterness and to try to undermine it. (333-34)
The theme of hate is the theme on which the play opens. Lily B. Campbell in Shakespeare’s Tragic Heroes indicates this hate in the opening scene:
It is then on a theme of hate that the play opens. It is a hate of inveterate anger.