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Wednesday, 2 June 2010

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Othello, the Moor of Venice

Iago is the ensign to the Moorish general in the services of the Venetian republic, and who hates Othello for several reasons. His resentment at Cassio’s appointment over him is wrecked by an apparently honest soldier. He also believes that Othello has seduced his wife, Emilia which all makes up him to be a man in love with evil for evil’s sake.

Iago plays the longest part in the play and outshines Othello most of the time. He resolves upon himself to revenge upon Othello and begins one midnight in Venice to lure Rodrigo (Desdomina’s foolish suitor) to create upon her father the news that Othello has stolen her. Brabantio is furious and quickly summon the council to consider the threat of the Turkish attack on Cypres and to leave Othello out of it.

But Desdemona’s testimony persuades all the senators except Brabantio. Othello is despatched to Cyprus as governor with his new lieutenant, Cassio. This makes Iago feverishly jealous. Desdemona follows them with Iago and his wife, Emilia.

By the time the travellers reach Cypres, the Turkish fleet has been destroyed by a tempest... Rodrigo still pursues Desdemona and is present there. On a night of celebration, Cassio who at Iago’s prompting has drunk unwisely, gets involved in a brawl and is disgraced. Later, at Iago’s suggestion Cassio implores Desdemona to plead his cause. Othello who is already distressed with Iago’s hints at her infidelity, gets highly agitated. Iago makes his diabolical plan with a handkerchief (which is Othello’s gift to Desdemona) dropped by her and ensures Cassio finds it.

Desdemona - Be thou assured, good Cassio, I will do all my abilities in thy behalf.


Othello, The Moor of Venice. Act. V. Scene 11

Emilia - Good madam, do. I warrant it grieves my husband. As if the case is his.

Des. - O. that’s an honest fellow. Do not doubt Cassio. But I will have my Lord and you again.

As Friendly as you were Cassio - Bounteos Madam

What ever shall become of Michael Cassio, He’s never any thing but your true servant.

When Othello is raged by the falsehood that Desdemona is untrue, Iago arranges more proof. Othello swear to kill her, and envoys from Venice, who have come to recall him leaving Cassio as acting governor, are horrified to see him strike his wife violently with a knife. Iago urges the foolish Rodrigo to murder Cassio. Othello smother Desdemona in bed. Emilia rouses the citadel and tells the truth about Iago. This is confirmed and in desperation, he kills Emilia. Whereupon Othello realises the innocence of his wife, repents and stabs himself to death. Iago is borne off to torture and Cassio rules in Cypress.

In Performance A great tragedy, full of ambition, suspicion and misunderstanding.

The play moves with speed, picking up momentum with each scene until all chief characters end in violence. The Moor play but a small part as Iago dominates the story in his cunning ways. Othello is the victim, shattered by the loss of faith and ideal. He is a cleverly planned character and caught at the meeting point of two cultural and spiritual traditions.

Boarded as a favourite play, Othello is brilliant in its dialogue, sharp and witty at times. Tailor-made for the eloquent deliverer of dialogue, the play offers scope both for stage and screen. Directors have presented the play in various versions but strictly within what Shakespeare had written. Many famous Thespians have acted as Othello from as far back as 1751 through to 1990s with a memorable revival at the Theatre for a New Audience, New York.

Chief Characters

Othello - One of the most taxing part in the Folio. He must be more than simply passionate and be a majestic speaker.

Desdemona - Her marriage was courageous but misunderstood and pays the penalty for being innocent. As the daughter of Brabantion, she renders; ‘My noble father. I perceive here a divided duty’

Iago - Plays the longest part in the play with 1,070 lines as dialogue. An ambitious evil man who meets his death with torture after sacrificing many lives.

Emilia - Wiwe to Iago and Desdemona’s confidant.

Brabantio - A noble man faithful to Othello and is a Venetian senator. Father to Desdemona.

Montano - Former Governor of Cypress

Rodrigo - Foolish suitor to Desdemona.

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