Othello, a play written by William Shakespeare begins in Venice, a powerful center of banking and commercial activities and also known for its military prowess. The plot of the play revolves around Othello, a black Moor who is also an army general, Iago, his aide, Desdemona, his wife and Cassio who became his lieutenant. After Othello marries Desdemona, her father is opposed to it and takes the matter to the Duke. It is ruled that what Othello did was wrong and he is sent to war as a result. His wife accompanies him to Cyprus as well as Cassio and Iago.
Because Iago resents Othello, he undertakes to manipulate his thinking and convinces him that his wife was having an affair with Cassio. He makes his wife Emilia to steal the handkerchief belonging to Desdemona and plants it in Cassio’s belonging so as to get Othello jealous. Othello gets infuriated at which he kills Desdemona. Emilia feels remorseful for this and reveals the truth and she gets killed by Iago; Roderigo’s murder notwithstanding. Iago gets arrested but refuses to apologize. The guilt of having killed the innocent Desdemona is too much for Othello to bear and he therefore commits suicide.
The playwright uses characters that the audience can easily relate with. For instance Othello’s character is perceived to be an ideal one because of his noble nature that made the audience to take him seriously and to make him command pity from them because he appealed to them as a sub-ordinary person. Iago strikes us as one very skillful traitor who makes Othello to keep trusting him despite his evils. He is secretive in his antics. Had it not been for Desdemona, Othello would not have known who Iago really was. These are characters that the audience can easily relate to.
Such themes as jealousy, honesty, racism and even hubris run in the play. One theme that strikes out majorly concerns the notion of appearance and reality. This simply implies the aspect of things not being exactly as they seem to be. Its prominence can be seen in the character of Iago. Nearly all characters in the play perceived Iago to be an honest man until Emilia revealed the truth about Desdemona’s innocence. He had duped all into believing him as someone trustworthy and yet this was not the case. For example in Scene III of Act II, Othello points out that Iago is the most honest. Using his wit, Iago learnt other people’s secrets, motives and interests and used this knowledge against their anxieties and fears. Had Emilia not revealed his secret, his plans would have gone his way, just showing how evil can be harmful to those around you.
The playwright, Shakespeare managed to put up a successful tragedy in the play Othello befitting the definition that a tragedy is an imitation of an act embellished in speech with a certain magnitude and has an effect of evoking pity and terror in its audience.
Shakespeare, William. Othello, The Moor of Venice . London: Forgotten Books, 2008.