Themes in Shakespeare's Othello Essay

Themes in Shakespeare's Othello Essay

Length: 1165 words (3.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Othello was written by Jacobean playwright William Shakespeare in 1603. It proved a huge success when first performed in 1604, in front of a huge audience. The story is one of Shakespeare’s great tragedy themed plays. Othello is the black protagonist and highly esteemed Venetian general. Iago is the ambitious but scheming villain of the play. When Othello promotes a man called Michael Cassio over Iago, he is furious and launches a malicious campaign against Othello. Meanwhile, Othello has married a white woman, Desdemona, without her father knowing. Through Iago’s plotting, Othello suspects that his wife is having an affair and after many murders and plots, Othello smothers his wife. But he finds out the truth about Iago, and horrified at his actions, kills himself.
In Shakespearian times, when people lived under the rule of King James, attitudes were completely different. The slave trade contributed to racial hatred and prejudice against black people. There was prejudice and assumptions that black people were evil. Black was associated with evil, black magic, and blacks were seen as dangerous savages. These stereotypes were challenged by portraying Othello as a calm, composed character at the beginning of the play.
The main themes introduced in scene one of the play include- racism, hate, xenophobia, jealousy, love, nobility, honesty and sexism and appearance vs. reality theme. Shakespeare uses dialogue, imagery; soliloquies, settings and characterisation throughout the play.
Hate and duplicity are introduced through Iago. In scene one, Iago also shows his fraudulence and expressing his hate towards his ‘master’ Othello when he says:
‘I follow him to serve my term upon him.
We cannot all be masters, nor all masters

... middle of paper ... about their jealousy. Iago is jealous of Cassio, his position and authority. He says: `I know my price, I am worth no worse place'. Iago believes he was the better man, the more experienced soldier. He thinks Cassio is a feeble man with no practical experience he says: ‘bookish theory’. This long dialogue introduces jealousy because Iago is using prose, meaning he is uncontrolled and frustrated. Iago also seems to be jealous of Othello because of a rumour that Emilia slept with Othello. He remarks in his soliloquy:
‘I hate the Moor,
And it is thought abroad that ‘twixt my sheets
He’s done in my office. I know not if ‘t be true,’.
So this is a stronger motive for destroying Othello’s happiness. The dramatic irony suggests that Iago is jealous and wants revenge for more than not securing his promotion, and the audience wonder what other motives he has.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Themes Of William Shakespeare's Othello Essay

- Honor, along with envy, is probably the biggest theme in Othello. It is either present or non-existent within each character in the play. Moreover, honor versus reputation is a prominent theme as well. Honor is having personal values and morals. Also, it's doing what's right no matter what the circumstances. Reputation is simply what others think of you. What others think of you is not necessarily always truthful. Iago is a perfect example that the difference between reputation and honor is like the difference between appearance and reality....   [tags: Shakespeare Othello]

Free Essays
908 words (2.6 pages)

The Theme Of Recurring Themes Of Shakespeare 's Othello Essay

- Shakespeare is prominent in his use of recurring themes throughout his works, particularly those of love, death, and betrayal. All these themes are present in Othello. Most para- mount, however, is jealousy. Jealousy runs the characters’ lives in Othello from the beginning of the play, when Roderigo is envi- ous of Othello because he wishes to be with Desdemona, and to the end of the play, when Othello is furious with envy because he believes Cassio and Desdemona have been engaging in an affair....   [tags: Othello, Iago, Brabantio, Desdemona]

Strong Essays
1626 words (4.6 pages)

The Major Themes of Shakespeare's Othello Exposed Through Speeches

- Othello, written in the 16th century by William Shakespeare, revolves around the themes of jealousy, appearance versus reality, and interracial relationships. Othello, one of the main characters, is a round and dynamic character. Othello’s personality and his speeches varied a lot throughout the beginning, middle, and end of the play, due to his sole weakness of jealousy. In the beginning of the play, Othello’s speeches were long and his personality was a brave man. His speeches were long because he was always explaining of things in defense of Brabantio’s accusations and he was not the best at making conversation....   [tags: jeaousy, appearance, interracial]

Strong Essays
604 words (1.7 pages)

Essay on The Major Themes in William Shakespeare's Othello

- The Major Themes in William Shakespeare's Othello Irony and double meaning are the basis and patterns of Othello, in which nothing is what it seems to be; white is black and generally the characters and themes have contradictory aspects. Irony is one of the characteristics of tragedy as the outcome, although inevitable, is unfair. In Act 1 scene 1, Shakespeare sets up the main themes of: jealousy, revenge, xenophobia and racism, love, outward appearance and inward reality and deception....   [tags: Papers]

Strong Essays
919 words (2.6 pages)

Essay on Themes from Othello by William Shakespeare

- Themes from Othello by William Shakespeare At times Shakespeare can become to complex, but in Othello he seems to simplify a number of his themes. The four themes or ideas that will be discussed are easily explainable. Jealousy, brotherly love, the handkerchief, and reputation and honor are very important topics Shakespeare approaches. Jealousy is a prominent factor in Othello. It is first shown when Iago is overlooked for a promotion. Iago shows his jealousy of Cassio being made a Lieutenant....   [tags: Papers]

Strong Essays
741 words (2.1 pages)

Essay on Themes of Deception in William Shakespeare's Othello

- Themes of Deception in William Shakespeare's Othello Deception is one of the main themes running through Othello, along with love, pride and society. Indeed, it is deception that provides the fuel for the plot and deception that is leads to the classic downfall of the 'hero' as is common in Shakespeare tragedies. We see Macbeth and Hamlet both succumb to downfall. perhaps the most obvious deception is Iago's deception. The principal method that Iago uses to convince Othello of Desdemona´s infidelity is by using one of Othello´s most treasured possessions and telling Othello that his wife, Desdemona, has given it away to her lover, Cassio....   [tags: Papers]

Strong Essays
1755 words (5 pages)

The Themes of Love and Hate in William Shakespeare's Othello Essay

- The Themes of Love and Hate in William Shakespeare's Othello Shakespeare's Othello contains many themes typical of a Shakesperian tragedy. Love, Hate, Appearance, Revenge, Jealousy, Deceit, Politics and the state and also Race. Mostly Othello is a play about love and the nature of love. As with many other Shakesperian plays the love is conflicted and an underlying idea of a Shakesperian tragedy is presented. An example of a Shakespeare play with a similar storyline to Othello is Romeo and Juliet....   [tags: Papers]

Strong Essays
709 words (2 pages)

Impact of Relationships Upon the Themes of Shakespeare's Othello Essay

- The Impact of the Relationship between Othello, Iago and Cassio Upon the Themes of Othello The major themes present in Othello are Jealously, Betrayal and Appearance vs. Reality. Each one of these themes are reinforced throughout the play in Iago's evil plot. They are represented or seen by Othello, Iago and Cassio and the relationship between them; dictating the motion of the play. Othello is the main character of the play. He is a moorish general and head of the army of venice....   [tags: GCSE English Literature Coursework]

Strong Essays
1341 words (3.8 pages)

Shakespeare's Portrayal of Themes of Deception and Jealousy in Othello Essay

- Shakespeare's Portrayal of Themes of Deception and Jealousy in Othello The main characters in relation to jealousy in the play are Othello and Desdemona. Desdemona is the object of Othello's jealousy, which is planted in his mind by Iago's deception. This enhances Othello's position in the minds of the audience as the tragic hero, and deeply links these two themes. The very status of being the tragic hero in the minds of the audience enhances our sense of his deception by Iago....   [tags: Papers]

Strong Essays
653 words (1.9 pages)

Essay Othello's Diverse Themes

- Othello’s Diverse Themes         Othello is one of William Shakespeare’s tragedies which thrives on a group of themes. Let’s see if we can sort them out and determine the dominant ones from the lesser ones.   The pain which the audience experiences is no accident, but rather one of the themes written into the play. Critic Caroline Spurgeon in “Shakespeare’s Imagery and What it Tells Us” explains the significant contribution which imagery makes to the theme of pain and unpleasantness running through the play:   The main image in Othello is that of animals in action, preying upon one another, mischievous, lascivious, cruel or suffering, and through these, the general sense of pain an...   [tags: Othello essays Shakespeare Papers]

Strong Essays
1951 words (5.6 pages)