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Topics: Venice, Cyprus, Othello Pages: 5 (1648 words) Published: June 14, 2013
What is the significance of these 3 places to Othello?
Venice, the first setting in the story.
Cyprus, the setting for the second half of the story.
Mauritania, Othello’s country of origin.
For all places, focus particularly on their history between 1400 and 1600. The play takes place sometime between these years, since Venice occupied Cyprus in 1489 and the island fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1571. Where is Venice, and what was it like in the sixteenth century? What was its economic status at that time? What was the Venetian’s relationship with the Turks? Why would Shakespeare select this place as one of the settings in his play? What impressions would Shakespeare's audience have of Venice? What Is The Significance Of Venice? Shakespeare made some changes he was following his source story when he set Othello in Venice and the use of the city is historically accurate as a centre of Christian resistance to the Turks, but it had other associations for the original audience and readers of his play. Venice was an important port, like London, and there was commercial competition between the two. It had an ethnically mixed population (think of the Jewish community represented in The Merchant of Venice) and a reputation as the sex capital of Europe. The city's women were considered loose (and records show that courtesans were part of the hospitality offered to visiting merchants) so it is easier for Iago to sow seeds of doubt in Othello's mind: his reactions are triggered not just by Iago but by the reputation of Venetian women. Places in Othello

William Shakespeare
Born: April 23, 1564; Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England Died: April 23, 1616; Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England First published: 1622; revised, 1623
First produced: 1604
Type of work: Drama
Type of plot: Tragedy
Time of work: Early sixteenth century
Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
Places Discussed
Venice
Northeast Italian seaport on the Adriatic that is the setting of the three scenes of the play’s first act. This affluent Renaissance city was greatly admired by Elizabethans, and utilized by William Shakespeare in his earlier play The Merchant of Venice (c. 1596-1597). Ruled by a duke and a senate, Venice was an autonomous, powerful republic at this time, with a flourishing commercial economy. Venetian ships plied the seas from the Adriatic through the Mediterranean, trading wool, furs, leather, and glass. In the play, Iago cynically describes Venice as a place of moneybags, treachery, and promiscuity, and insinuates that a black man can never be other than an outsider. Playing upon Othello’s sense of alienation, he suggests that Desdemona’s choice of him was unnatural and thus temporary. Before Brabantio’s house, Iago and Roderigo call out with shouts of alarm and obscene insinuations about his daughter Desdemona, which escalate almost into a brawl, until Othello appears to calm the fray. This outdoor setting, dark and noisy, creates a feeling of unrest and tension. Duke’s council chamber Duke’s council chamber. Awe-inspiring room to which Othello is summoned before the Duke and the special session of Senate. In this Venetian crisis, with the Turkish fleet now bearing down on the island of Cyprus, a possession of Venice, Othello’s services are necessary. However, he must defend himself first from the accusations of Brabantio, who claims that he has stolen Desdemona by witchcraft. Although alien to Venetian culture as a Moor, Othello has previously proven his worth to the state and he defends himself from Brabantio’s charges persuasively. Into this solemn chamber peopled with the powerful hierarchy of Venice, Desdemona appears to declare her love for Othello, which convinces the Duke to support the marriage and enlist Othello in the war against the Turk. Cyprus

Important island trading post in the eastern Mediterranean Sea and a Venetian possession from 1489 to 1571. It provides the setting for the last four acts of the...
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