The Moor of Venice
Roll No. 86
English (Hons) Year 1
The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare in approximately 1603, and based on the Italian short story Un Capitano Moro by Cinthio. The work revolves around four central characters: Othello, a Moorish general in the Venetian army; his wife, Desdemona; his lieutenant, Cassio; and his ensign, Iago. A thrilling tale of deceit, Othello is fooled by his ‘trusted’ ensign into the belief that his newlywed wife Desdemona had been having an affair with Cassio. Driven by grief, Othello proceeds to murder Desdemona and subsequently, upon learning his mistake, takes his own life.
Before that, however, Othello’s final speech sheds light on his character that gives a whole new angle on the tragedy. Beginning with the opening lines of the play, Othello remains at a distance from much of the action that concerns and affects him. He is different from those around him, due to his origins and his life history, but he shares their religion, values, and patriotism to Venice. Most importantly, he is visibly different due to the color of his skin, so he lives constantly among, but separated from, other people. Shakespeare presents this fact in the dialogue and also in the staging of the play. Othello is a black face among a sea of white faces, and he is constantly referred to as ‘The Moor’. When other characters call him "black," they refer not only to his face but also to the concept of color symbolism in Elizabethan morality: White is honor, black is wickedness; white is innocence, black is guilt. In the first scene, Roderigo and Iago refer to him with racial epithets, not his name. Apart from ‘The Moor’, Othello is also referred to as ‘The thick-lips’, ‘an old black ram’ and ‘A Barbary horse’. Despite that, however, Othello’s skill as a soldier and leader is valuable and necessary to the state, and he is an integral part of the Venetian...
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