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Summary of Othello

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Mags Clancy

on 30 September 2014

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Transcript of Summary of Othello

This play is one of the great tragedies by William Shakespeare. Othello is a highly regarded general in the service of Venice. Iago is Othello's committed friend. Othello promotes charming Michael Cassio to the position of
Othello Summary
Themes in Othello
Another key theme in Othello,
is racism and being the outsider
. Brabantio's disrespect for Desdeomona's choice of of lover is partly motivated by Othello's Moorish origin.
'
the gross clasps of a lascivious Moor
' (1 : 1) This quote shows that even though Othello's expertise as a soldier gives him power, him being black denies him the status in the Venetian society.
Even the full title of the play '
The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice
' stresses that Othello is an outsider in Venice. He is not the only outsider in the play. Bianca is shown as a 'prostitute' or a 'slut'. These people are often seen as outsiders in today's society also.
Themes in Othello
Another theme in Othello is manipulation. Iago manipulates Othello (with no evidence) to believe that Desdemona was cheating on him with Michael Cassio. He manipulates everyone he crosses or uses them in his plan to deceive Othello.
'I cry you mercy, then:
I took you for that cunning whore of Venice' ( Othello 4:2)
This immediately tells the audience that Iago's scheme against Othello has worked and Othello believes that Desdemona has been unfaithful.
Themes in Othello
There are many themes in Othello which relate to a modern audience in today's society. These themes include jealousy, race, manipulation, gender, sex, marriage and hate.
Jealousy
is a major theme shown in Othello.
"Othello" is the most famous literary work that focuses on the jeopardy caused by jealousy.
The play shows that Iago uses jealousy against Othello, yet jealousy is the source of Iago's anger and hatred in the first place.
The jealousy shown in all cases is disastrous and has a range of reasons from sexual suspicion to professional competition.
Jealousy can definitely relate to a modern audience and is seen every day. Almost everyone goes through a stage of jealousy in their life.

By William Shakespeare
Othello
personal lieutenant and Iago is implacably jealous. Iago begins an evil and vicious campaign against Othello. Othello falls in love with and marries Desdemona but Iago starts to plot against them. Othello becomes jealous and suspicious of his wife. He believes Iago, and he plans to poison Desdemona. Othello returns to the castle to kill his innocent wife, he smothers her to death in their wedding bed.
Emilia tells Othello the truth about the manipulative Iago. Othello wounds Iago, then commits suicide. Iago then kills Emilia.
Othello Main Characters
The characters in Othello are:
Othello
- A professional general who works for the government of Venice. He is an outsider in Venice, being the black man in a white world. Othello is well spoken, very confident and outgoing. He can be fooled very easily and is a jealous man.

Iago
- He is a Venetian man who has had many experiences in the military. He is resentful and very motivated because of self interest and greed. He has a hatred for women and disrespects them, he is interested in other peoples' sex life but to him sex is '
merely a lust of the blood
' (1 : 1). He is very manipulative and hypocritical.
Othello Characters
Desdemona
- the daughter of Venetian senator Brabantio. She is secretly married to Othello. Her character is sometimes hard to understand and she contradicts herself quite a bit. She is '
right modest
' and '
indeed perfection
' (2 : 3) according to Cassio. She is very loyal to Othello.

Michael Cassio
- Othello's lieutenant, very smart but lacks experience in the field, unlike Iago. Iago calls him a
'arithmetician
', (1 : 1) which is someone who is more theoretical than practical. He is described as handsome. The good looks are what make Othello jealous of what he has with Desdemona. Michael cannot handle his alcohol very well and gets this used against him.
Othello Characters
Emilia
- She is Iago's wife. She is Desdemona's friend and very loyal towards her. She believes in gender equality. She was distrustful of Iago, but unaware of what he was plotting. She is very faithful to Desdemona and at the end of the play realises how she unwittingly helped Iago with his plan.

Bianca
- She is Cassio's lover and described as a 'slut' or considered a high-class prostitute. She is in love with Michael Cassio, but doesn't realise that he jokes about her in private. She is referred to as a '
notable strumpet
' and also a '
whore
' (5 : 1) by Iago.


Themes in Othello
Another theme in Othello is hate. The hatred shown throughout the play is very strong, especially from the villain, Iago. Iago's hatred seems to be self propelled & not caused by any paticular actions. '
I hate the moor
' ( Iago 1 : 3 : 312) Although Iago's hatred towards Othello is so strong he still pretends to be Othello's friend.

Othello Characters
Roderigo
- He is a Venetian gentleman who is not very intelligent and deeply in love with Desdemona. He hires Iago to help him to try and get her, but Iago just wants his money. He is very easily manipulated. Iago just used his desperation for Desdemona to get to him.

Brabantio
- He is Desdemona's father and Desdemona is his only child. When Brabantio finds out about Othello he thought she may have been had a spell put on her or that 'drugs or minerals' (1 : 3) were used on her. Once he finds out that she actually does love a moor, he disowns her & tells Othello to beware because she may betray Othello also, like she had betrayed him.

Bianca
Emilia
Roderigo
Brabantio
Symbols in Othello
There are quite a few symbols in Othello which have deeper meanings than you would think after just reading them in the play. Some of these symbols include: the handkerchief, Cassio's dream about Desdemona, war, animals, and a candle.

There was going to be a
war
in Cyprus when most of the characters left and prepared for a physical bloody battle. This never happened due to the weather. War was mentioned throughout the play but no physical battle took place. The only war that happened was in the mind of the protagonist and as we know there was a bloody ending to that conflict.
Symbols in Othello
The
handkerchief
is the most dominant symbol in the play. Othello gives the handkerchief to Desdemona to show how much he loves her, she cherishes this gift. Iago knows how much it would upset Othello if he found out that she had lost it and that it got in the hands of Cassio. Othello knew that if she had the handkerchief she was faithful to him but if she didn't have possession of it, she may not be so faithful. This also symbolizes that such a small object can play a huge part in making people jealous.
Symbols in Othello
The
candle
that lies by Othello & Desdemona's bed symbolises Desdemona's fragile life. When Othello blows out the candle it represents the end of her life.
He says he's going to 'put out the light and then put out the light', what he means by saying this is that he will blow out the candle and then strangle Desdemona.
He also says that the difference between the candle and Desdemona's life is that he can relight the candle and blow it out again anytime he wants, but he cannot bring Desdemona back to life.
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