Is “Othello” Best Regarded as a Domestic Tragedy or as a Tragedy of State Where the Fate of the Central Protagonist Has Significant Impact on Society? Consider in Your Answer the Ways in Which the Central Relationship

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Written in 1604, during Shakespeare’s great tragic period, “Othello” is one of his most highly concentrated, tightly constructed tragedies, with no subplots and little humour to relieve the tension. Although he adapted the plot of his play from the sixteenth-century Italian dramatist and novelist Giraldi Cinthio's Gli Hecatommithi, Shakespeare related almost every incident directly to the development of Iago's schemes and Othello's escalating fears. This structure heightens the tragedy's ominous mood and makes the threat to both Desdemona's innocence and the love she and Othello share more terrifying. Because of its varied themes of racism, love, jealousy and betrayal the play remains relevant today and is still quite popular. A domestic tragedy takes place in a personal setting. In “Othello”, the men are in Cyprus to fight a war. However, the tragedy is the events within the relationships of the central characters. There is little discussion of the war and, although Desdemona blames state matters for Othello's change in behavior, the real problems Othello faces are matters of the heart. A tragedy of state is when the tragic events effect more than just the protagonist, but also the government or kingdom that they belong to. In “Othello”, when Othello dies much of Venice is shocked and mourns him, as they have lost a great soldier and a great friend to the noblemen. It can be argued that “Othello” is a domestic tragedy as opposed to a state tragedy because in essence, the only people affected are a man and his wife, and their closest confidents and there is no impact on society. “Othello” also fits domestic tragedy conventions regarding the tragic protagonists being ‘ordinary’, middle-class or lower-class individuals. This subgenre contrasts with classical and neoclassical tragedy, in which the protagonists are of kingly or aristocratic rank and their downfall is an affair of state as well as a personal matter. Therefore “Othello” is suitable to this genre...
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