Critical Analysis of Shakespeare's Othello

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Othello by William Shakespeare is a polysemic tragedy of love and betrayal which has transcended the challenge of time with its ability to be reinterpreted through various approaches, while retaining the quintessential issues of jealousy, appearance and deception. Adaptations of the play include Orson Welles’ (1952) and Oliver Parker’s (1995) films, which both explore views on gender and racial inequality. These transformations have augmented my impression of the play by furthering my knowledge of the issues it addresses.

Ultimately, I believe Shakespeare’s tragic tale serves as a warning of unbridled jealousy to bring about man’s downfall, which is primarily evident through the play’s central protagonist, Othello. Whilst Othello is initially portrayed as a noble general who is gifted in speech, as evident in his eloquent verse “I will a round unvarnished tale deliver of my whole course of love”, the seeds of jealousy which eventually bring about his tragic demise are sown from the inception of the play. In fact, Iago warns Othello early on to “beware” of the metaphorical “green eyed monster” as it “doth mock the meat it feeds on”, which, ironically, is what Othello becomes by the end of the play. His madness is also indicated through his shift to vulgar prose by the end of the text, as seen when he berates his Desdemona for being an “impudent strumpet”. I believe that it is this tragic journey which has captivated audiences for centuries, as we see in Othello part of ourselves. For jealousy is a part of the human condition, and Othello reminds us of the danger of allowing jealousy to overcome our reason.

However, Shakespeare’s text transcends context due to the various messages it imparts regarding a number of universal ideas, another of these being its warning that appearances can often be deceiving. Iago’s deceptive nature has intrigued audiences since its
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