The Two Settings of Othello

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Effects of the Environment in Othello
In The Tragedy of Othello, an epic tale of love and revenge, Shakespeare introduces major themes of jealousy and self-preservation. Shakespeare uses sharp contrast of settings to convey and amplify feelings brought on by the characters’ actions. The civilized city of Venice and the cut off island of Cyprus bring out the differences in personalities among the main characters, leading them to act as different as the two settings. Venice keeps these characters more dignified in their actions with the overwhelming feeling of the council/public watching. However, Cyprus is much more secluded, giving the characters the chance to show their true colors.

Desdemona is introduced as an adventurous and loving wife. Despite her popularity, she only has eyes for her husband Othello who is known for his war stories. Before her marriage, Desdemona lived in Venice with her father. She lived a very civilized and distinguished life. This lifestyle entitled her to numerous things and gave her a life of luxury; which kept her from seeing “evil” things as common as theft. This is shown by Desdemona’s father, Brabantio, when he is angered by news of a robbery occurring in Venice. Brabantio states, “What tell’st thou me of robbing? This is Venice, My house is not a grange (Shakespeare, 1015).” This type of lifestyle is not equivalent to the lifestyle Desdemona has while in Cyprus. Desdemona changes while in Cyprus from an adventurous women of Venice to a loyal general’s wife. Desdemona’s loyalty is so powerful she overks the physical and mental abuse of her husband. Othello publicly slaps Desdemona and calls her a whore. Othello states, “Are you not a strumpet?” “What, not a whore? (Shakespeare, 1077)” Just from the change in setting Desdemona’s lifestyle went from happily newlywed to wrongfully abused wife.

Iago is portrayed as the antagonist in Othello; even though, throughout the play Iago is commonly referred to as ‘honest Iago’....
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