Othello is a Moor and immigrant to Venice and is the Vanehon republic's most admired military commander. Desdemona becomes enchanted, falls in love and elopes with Othello. As the play begins Venice is about to be attacked by the Ottoman Turks. The leaders of Venice call upon Othello to lead their forces but Brabantio, an influential senator, is also Desdemona's father. Enraged to discover that she has married Othello he accuses the Moor of using witchcraft to steal his daughter, the senators briefly take Othello's side but the military context is short lived. The context does however provide a framework for the "private wars" that follow, Othello's closest side Iago undermines Othello because of his intense jealously towards him. Othello then becomes his own chief antagonist as jealously turns him into a monster. The final scene is situated in the tragic intimacy of Desdemona's bed chamber.
"It is a tragedy without meaning, and that is the ultimate horror of it". Granville Barker, Prefaces to Shakespeare.
"Othello issues from a society in which certain modes of thought, which to us have not simply lost their force but become positively the expressions of the tyranny of the past, were perfectly familiar and acceptable." Jo Holloway, The Story of the Night.
"The gradual poisoning of the intuitive world of Desdemona by the rational world of Iago constitutes the main theme of the play." T. Hawkes, Shakespeare and the Reason.
"The play is not about the sins and weaknesses of the flesh, but about the sins and weaknesses of the mind of the understanding." Ruth Levitsky in Shakespeare Studies VI.
Introduction to the Play:
Iago and the Moor
Othello is referred to by Iago as "the Moor" and "His Moorship". He is described by the same character as "an old black ram", "a Barbary horse", "the devil" and his relationship with Desdemona is described as "the gross clasps of a lascivious Moor." ...
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