Holding the Attention of the Audience in Othello

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Topic 4: The playwright's primary task is to hold the audience's interest. Consider how this is achieved in Othello.

The common aim of playwrights of any time or location is to capture and hold the attention of their audience. It is an irrefutable fact that in order for a play to be successful, the playwright must maintain the interest of the audience. The tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice, is one of Shakespeare's most renowned plays, and has been capturing the interest of its audiences for many hundreds of years. The success of Othello is largely due to Shakespeare's phenomenal ability to secure the unwavering attention of an audience. Various techniques were employed by Shakespeare in order to achieve this crucial feat. Through construction of intriguing characters, exploration of universal themes, use of comic relief and a well-written script featuring a compelling plot, Shakespeare ensured the tragedy of Othello would hold the interest of the audience. The plot of a play is defined by Aristotle to be "the arrangement of incidents," and it is therefore logical that the events of Othello perform an integral part in sustaining the interest of the audience. Shakespeare was clearly well aware of the importance of a good script and captivating plot, as the tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice, features twists, turns and revelations, each grasping and holding the attention of the audience. For example, within only one scene of the tragedy, Act IV Scene I, the readers and viewers of Othello witness Othello's emotional breakdown, the continued manipulation of characters by Iago and the arrival of Lodovico to Cyprus. The intriguing plot maintains it's momentum throughout the play, never giving the audience a chance to focus their attention elsewhere, and thus holding their interest until the final line.

Essential to the success of Othello is the fact that the issues and themes explored in this tragedy, written by Shakespeare in about 1604, are...
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