Free College Essays - The Setting of Venice in Shakespeare's Othello
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The Setting of Venice in Othello
Othello is a fundamentally different character to all others in the play . He is an outsider to Venice and therefore an outsider to the customs and society of Venice. In one way this is good for him. He is a renowned strong general who is much in demand from the Venetians. Rather than fight the war against the Turks for themselves, they hire Othello to do so, indicating that he is respected by the Venetians but not considered, as a civilized Venetian would be, above having to fight wars barbarically. This lack of cultural acceptance is indicated by the way Brabantio is willing to Îloveâ, invite to his house and ask him to tell battle stories. However, when there is the possibility of Desdemona marrying Othello, Brabantio is vehemently opposed, exclaiming;
"Destruction on my head".
Venice is a haven of civilization, on the border with the land of heathenism and disputes. When Brabantio is told he has been robbed, he answers inconsistently;
"What tellâst thou me of robbing? This is Venice; My house is not a grange."
This not only shows that Venice is a quiet, civilized, uneventful place, but that its inhabitants (or at least Brabantioâs generation) believe it to be themselves.[ LINK TO 3] They live by a code of behavior and upbringing which views someone like Othello as barbarous, uncivilized, and almost amusing in a superior cultural kind of way. Every time a character calls Othello "the Moor" a sense of derision and superiority is conveyed and all the other feelings of distance inherent in Venetians.
Iago says that Desdemona is a "supersubtle Venetian" as if the calculatedness of her thoughts and deeds were not too a feature of himself, which they certainly are. The implication is that civilised people are conniving and scheming people, and are in that sense understood to one another while this adds to the irony of the constant reference to Iago as "honest Iago". It also contrasts the Venetian way of social dealing with the open nature of Othello. Othello is clever, as his style and military prowess show but is to content of Venice he is na•ve. He is too trusting and misunderstands the subtleties of Venetian society it is the combination of his openness and decisiveness, pride and trustfulness that allows super subtle Iago to destroy him, powerful as Othello is.