Othello

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Books related to Othello Othello - The protagonist and tragic hero of the play. A Moor commanding the armies of Venice, he is a celebrated general and heroic figure whose "free and open nature" will enable Iago to twist his love for his wife Desdemona into a powerful jealousy. Desdemona - The daughter of a Venetian Senator, and Othello's bride. The most sympathetic character in the play, she is deeply in love with her husband, and her purity contrasts strongly with Iago's wickedness. Iago - Othello's ensign, and Shakespeare's greatest villain. His public face of bravery and honesty conceals a Satanic delight in manipulation and destruction. Passed over for a promotion by his commander, he vows to destroy the Moor. Cassio - Othello's lieutenant, promoted in place of Iago. He is an inexperienced officer but an honest man, with a great concern for his good name. Emilia - Iago's wife and Desdemona's attendant. A cynical, worldly woman, she is deeply attached to her mistress. Roderigo - A jealous suitor of Desdemona. A vain, melodramatic fool, he follows Desdemona and Othello to Cyprus and acts as a willing tool for Iago. Bianca - A courtesan in Cyprus, and Cassio's mistress. Brabantio - Desdemona's father, and a Senator in Venice. A friend of Othello, he feels betrayed when the Moor marries his daughter in secret. Lodovico - Brabantio and Desdemona's kinsman, he acts as a messenger from Venice to Cyprus. Gratiano - Brabantio's brother. Clown - Othello's servant. Montano - The governor of Cyprus before Othello. The Duke of Venice - The official authority in Venice who presides over some scenes and events in Othello. Roderigo, meanwhile, appears as a whiner and dupe for Iago--if he is the best suitor Venice has to offer, then Desdemona's preference for Othello is understandable. As for Othello himself, we hear the racist insults of Roderigo and Iago, who refer to him as "thick-lips" (I.i.66) and "an old black ram" (I.i.88-89), so his identity as an African and an alien in Venice are firmly established. At the same time, Othello's importance in Venice is clear: he can appoint officers, converse with the chief citizens, and marry the daughter of a Senator. This is the paradox of Othello--as a heroic general, he is tremendously powerful, but as a black man in a white society, he is tremendously vulnerable. This is our first glimpse of the Moor, and he seems appropriately commanding--he forestalls a battle with the simple yet menacing command, "keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them." (I.ii.59) His importance in Venice, meanwhile, is demonstrated by the Duke's call for him--Brabantio, a Senator himself, has not been told of the council meeting, while Othello's presence is required. Othello's defense, meanwhile, is both eloquent and honest--his nobility is never more evident than in these early speeches, which serve to balance Iago's earlier descriptions of the Othello/Desdemona marriage in crudely sexual terms. Othello's account of the courtship and his wife's confirmation testify to the authenticity of their romance--which is an important theme of the play. The tragedy succeeds so well only because the audience is never allowed to doubt that Othello and Desdemona are truly in love with one another. In telling the story of how he was passed over for promotion to lieutenant, Iago says that three influential men apparoached Othello on Iago's behalf, "But he, as loving his own pride and purposes, / Evades them, with a bombast circumstance / Horribly stuff'd with epithets of war" (1.1.12-14). "Bombast" is cotton stuffing; "circumstance" is wordy rigmarole; and "epithets of war" are military terms. In short, Iago accuses Othello of using phony military reasons to give the job to Cassio, who has no military experience. However, later in the scene, after the enraged Brabantio declares that he will hunt Othello down, Iago admits that Venice doesn't have a better military man than Othello. He tells...
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