William Shakespeare's classic tragedy, ‘Othello’ written in approximately 1603, continues to be studied and appreciated even now in modern society, more than four hundred years after it was written. Apart from the obviousness of Shakespeare’s ability to use diction to draw in the audience, ‘Othello’ has many qualities which allow it to be interpreted and re-interpreted through time. It can relate to any audience and context because its varied themes, values and ideas, remain relevant to all societies making it possible for anyone to relate to ‘Othello’ on some level. This, along with Shakespeare’s depiction of common human emotions, and his ability to portray these in such a realistic manner continues to make ‘Othello’ worthy of critical study. The universality of Shakespeare’s themes are evident not only in ‘Othello’ but in almost all of his works.
The most apparent theme in the text is that of jealousy. Iago importantly warns, ‘O, beware, my lord, of Jealousy. It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on’ (act 3, scene 3). This warning is directed at Othello, but is also important for Roderigo and Iago himself. Although Iago could be called one of the most diabolical antagonist/villains in literature, his actions are spurred by such common human emotions; jealousy and greed. Jealousy acts as a great literary device in the text because it is an extremely universal emotion which almost all living creatures are capable of feeling, and this gives the audience an emotional attachment to the characters and plot. It allows the audience to feel sympathy for the characters. ‘Othello’ plays with the jealous nature of the characters, such as Iago’s envy of power and position, along with his suspicions about his wife. These things encourage the plot, and initiate the series of events to unfold during the text. Through Iago, Shakespeare conveys the lengths to which a man will go to achieve his objective. Iago’s manipulativeness causes Othello to...
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