The language and literary techniques used in William Shakespeare's Othello enrich the settings, plot, characters, and themes. Othello is a complex tragedy about good versus evil, loyalty, love, sexual jealousy, appearance versus reality, and intrigue, told in a first person point of view. The play takes place during the Renaissance in Venice, Italy and in Cyprus over three days. It is written in blank verse, usually unrhymed iambic pentameter. The protagonist, Othello, is a Moor well respected by senators for his valiant service in war and married to Desdemona, a Venetian woman. The play is entitled Othello and the plot and action encompass him, thus supporting his position of protagonist. The antagonist, Iago, is an unscrupulous individualist who bitterly despises Othello. Iago's villainous and intricate scheme for revenge results in the deaths of Othello, Desdemona, Iago's wife, and Roderigo, a suitor of Desdemona.
The play begins in Venice where Othello and Desdemona are eloping. Othello is needed to lead the Venetian forces in Cyprus and must leave immediately. Othello is joined at Cyprus by Desdemona, Iago, Emilia (Iago's wife), Roderigo, and Cassio (Othello's lieutenant). Iago falsely informs Roderigo that if Cassio were to die, Desdemona could be Roderigo's wife. Iago then guilefully encourages Cassio to drink an excess of wine and in a drunken fight, instigated by Roderigo, Cassio wounds Montano, the governor of Cyprus, and Othello reprimands him.
Meanwhile, Iago continually plants thoughts of sexual jealousy and suspicion in Othello's mind. He tries to convince Othello that Desdemona is unfaithful to him and she is having an affair with Cassio. In t...
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Campbell, Lily B. Shakespeare’s Tragic Heroes. New York: Barnes and Noble, Inc., 1970.
Di Yanni, Robert. “Character Revealed Through Dialogue.” Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Reprint from Literature. N. p.: Random House, 1986.
Mack, Maynard. Everybody’s Shakespeare: Reflections Chiefly on the Tragedies. Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 1993.
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