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William Shakespeare plays – Othello

Updated on August 24, 2012

A detailed study of Shakespeare’s As You Like It

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Analysis of As You Like it

William Shakespeare Othello – the tragedy with the themes of love and betrayal

William Shakespeare, the greatest among the playwrights has authored several brilliant plays that still capture the heart of audience. Othello is one such celebrated play that has later been made into a movie. “Othello” is, no doubt, the greatest tragedy written by Shakespeare. The play is about a sad story of Othello, a black general belonging to the Italian army and Desdemona, his wife. In this tragedy play, Shakespeare indirectly introduces the various issues that prevailed in that society. Love and betrayal are few of such themes. Combination of these two themes makes ‘Othello’ an awesome tragedy play.

Analysis on Othello – summary – Othello themes - betrayal

Othello story (Othello summary) The most notable element that Shakespeare introduces in this play is betrayal. Iago is found to be at the centre of all betrayals we find in the play. Iago is not loyal to anyone even to his wife. Each and every characters of the play has been betrayed by Iago at some or the other juncture. We find his betraying Cassio by making him extremely drunk and bringing disgrace for him in the presence of Othello. He further betrays him by asking him to approach Desdemona and introduce his case to her so that she would make Othello reinstate him. Iago is not reluctant to betray his own wife. He makes her steal Desdemona’s handkerchief and place it in Cassio’s room. He betrays Othello in numerous instances. Iago lies to Othello several times and succeeds in generating doubts in his heart about his loyal wife. Through Iago’s manipulation and blatant lies, Othello finally believes that Desdemona no longer loves him, and is in turn in love with Cassio. Iago, being most cunning thus deceives Othello who thinks that the only solution is to kill Desdemona, his wife. This, the betrayal of Iago makes the play a tragedy. Iago, however, is not the only characters who betrays. Almost all the characters of the play perform acts of betrayals that were more disastrous than the betrayals done by Iago. We find Iago’s wife, Emilia, cheating her husband by revealing to Othello that she only has stolen the handkerchief for Iago. Even though what she has done was the right thing, this betrayal had dangerous consequences – it resulted in her death and her husband’s death. Desdemona is an innocent character in the play. She also however once lies to her husband as she conceals the fact that she lost the handkerchief. She says Othello that she still has the handkerchief with her. This lie makes Othello suspect Desdemona, suspecting that she has got an affair with Cassio, his friend. Othello, however, performs the greatest betrayal of the play as he believes Iago blindly, ignoring the words of his loyal and noble wife. Iago’s lies makes Othello decide to kill his wife Desdemona. Trusting not a person who we really love can be considered as the greatest betrayal. All the characters of the play thus performs betrayal, that makes the play a big tragedy.

Othello themes – love and jealousy

Yet another major theme of the celebrated tragedy Othello is love. Love is a common theme in all Shakespearian plays. Love is very much evident in all the phases of the play Othello. Love is found to be a major driving force that triggers the actions of all the major characters of the play. Desdemona’s love for Othello made her conceal the truth (about her missing handkerchief) to her husband Othello. She was very much aware how much it meant for him and did not desire o hurt him by revealing that she lost the handkerchief. Othello’s extreme love for his wife Desdemona is the reason for all the betrayals in the play. His love for Desdemona made him go all the betrayals of Iago. The betrayals would not have resulted in deaths If Othello had not loved Desdemona strongly. His love for her made him kill himself (after killing her) after he understands that it was all Iago’s betrayal and his wife Desdemona was innocent. Othello loved Desdemona so dearly that he did not desire to live as he killed her. Love between Othello and Desdemona is the most crucial theme of the play that resulted in all betrayals and deaths.

Shakespearian plays with great themes

All Shakespearian plays contain wonderful themes that are blended in perform form so that it makes a wonderful story, often a touching tragedy. Othello, the most famous of Shakespearian tragedies also involves touching themes that are merged beautifully to make up the story. Combination of the themes of love and betrayal makes the beautiful tragedy Othello. Love and betrayal loves the characters too much that it resulted in their death ultimately. Majority of the people in the play is killed in the final phase. Love paved the way for betrayal and betrayal led to killings and deaths. Beautiful blending of the themes of love and betrayal formed the wonderful tragedy Othello. This blending also makes the play appealing to the audience. ‘Othello’ thus become the greatest of all Shakespearian tragedies.


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    • dhannyya profile image

      dhannyya 5 years ago

      thanks radhikasree for the comment...

    • radhikasree profile image

      Radhika Sreekanth 5 years ago from Mumbai,India

      Heard of Othello several times, but you could summarize the story in a few words very meticulously. Good hub!

      Voted up as interesting.

    • dhannyya profile image

      dhannyya 5 years ago

      me a fan of othello, admitting the vulnerability of love..

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Shakespeare is classic! Nice to see another fan here.