Discuss to what extent the value placed on one’s reputation is a central issue in Shakespeare’s Othello.
A central issue in the play Othello written by William Shakespeare in 1603 is the theme of reputation. Reputation is the views that are generally held about somebody or something and in Othello it is based around how you are perceived socially. For the males in Othello, their reputation is generally based around their social class and status and their rank; in particular their military rank because they are in the service of Venice and their reputation also depends on how obedient their wives were as there was a great shame attached if they cuckold their husbands by being unfaithful. Reputation is a key element that appears throughout the play and it affects three of the main characters; Othello, Iago and Cassio. As well as the male characters in Othello, the females are also affected by reputation however on a lesser scale because their social reputation was based on their husband’s or father’s rank in society as well as their own chastity. A true Elizabethan woman was supposed to remain a virgin and keep their purity until marriage.
Othello's reputation also plays a big role in this play and the outcome of it. He has the reputation of a no nonsense military general and this is seen right from the beginning of the Shakespearean play. The following extract is from Act I, Scene II and is said when Othello first enters on stage and is of him talking to Iago about how he believes his services in the army and his reputation he has gained from his career; “let him do his spite: My services which i have done the signory, shall out tongue his complaints.” This status in fact partly causes Desdemona's death. He becomes so distraught when he hears from Iago that Cassio and Desdemona and cheating on him he becomes angry and wants to kill her. Once Iago has corrupted Othello’s mind by feeding him the...