143 Othello Essay Topics & Examples

Most Othello essay samples analyze the plot, thesis, and characters of William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice. The tragedy is based on n Cinthio’s story ‘Un Capitano Moro.’

Before you start writing your Othello essay, you must have a clear understanding of who The Moor is. We hope that you already have read the plot or watched the play.

However, some students lack an idea of the object because they have not come across Shakespeare’s masterpiece or any information concerning Othello. This post will help you to ask Othello essay questions and successfully write your paper.

✨ How to Write an Othello Essay?

  • 🏆 Best Othello Essay Topics & Essay Examples

👍 Good Ideas for an Essay on Othello

💡 most interesting othello topics to write about, 🎓 exceptional topics for othello essay, ❓ othello essay questions.

Before you start outlining, you should ask yourself: what or who is Othello? Your answer is significant as it expresses your interest in the subject and, therefore, motivates you to research the chosen topic.

When working on your Othello essay introduction, you should get a clear understanding of The Moor character and its origin.

Your intro should thoroughly explain the subject to your audience. Don’t forget to include a thesis which discloses the central message of your paper. Put it at the end of your intro.

The next step is planning the essay body. Here are some questions you may answer in your Othello character analysis:

  • Describe Othello: Who is he? When he lives, his life, occupation, etc.
  • Is Othello a good character or bad? Do you identify with Othello?
  • Why is Othello famous to date? What makes him popular?
  • What is his role in the play? Why is Othello character crucial to the tragedy? Would the story so attractive without Othello?
  • Does the play reflect contemporary issues?
  • What did you learn from Othello?

Explain the pointers above and provide a better understanding of the Othello character to your readers.

If you need more sample ideas for your Othello essay outline, check them below:

  • The role of race in Shakespeare’s tragedy. At the beginning of the plot, Othello’s name is not mentioned, although everyone knows he is dark-skinned and different. Discuss in your essay, how it would impact the play if Othello were white. Argue if the character’s race is matter in the story.
  • The role of loyalty. Shakespeare showed how loyalty could have both positive and negative attributes. Othello’s belief in Desdemona’s lack of allegiance caused their destiny. Use it as an example of how devotion can be dangerous if it is used for bad reasons.
  • The role of Desdemona. Is she is a passive victim of Othello? Analyze how her character changes when she is not with him. Think of how victim behavior can cause even more violence.
  • Relationships between characters in the play. In your essay, you can examine relationships and emotions between Othello and Desdemona, the villainy of Iago’s character, Emilia’s emotions for Iago and Othello, and love of Roderigo for Desdemona.

In your Othello essay conclusion, sum up all the issues you disclosed in the body. Avoid introducing new points. Instead, highlight the thesis statement to show your readers that your essay supports it.

After you’ve finished your essay, don’t forget to proofread it and wipe out grammar, punctuation, and spelling mistakes.

We hope that the tips above will ease your writing an outstanding paper. Make sure to check our website for more Othello essay topics!

🏆 Best Othello Topic Ideas & Essay Examples

  • Theme of Jealousy in Othello by Shakespeare The jealousy displayed by Othello and the villainous nature of Lago are some of the qualities that impress the readers of the play.
  • The Downfall of Othello The properties of Othello are given to Cassio who also assumes position that had been held by Othello The downfall of Othello is evidenced by death of his wife, loss of property and his own […]
  • The Relevance of “Othello” by William Shakespeare in the Current Society The paper demonstrates the relevance of Othello to the contemporary audience by highlighting the existence of the major issues Shakespeare addresses in this play.
  • The Movie Adaptation of the “Othello” by William Shakespeare In its turn, this explains the lessened plausibility of film’s action, as compared to what it is being the case with original tragedy.
  • Othello as the Outsider In the play, Othello strives to emphasize that his blackness is insignificant impediment and highlight the advantages of his origin revealing the positive features of his character and behavior.
  • The Tragedy of Othello: Critical Analysis — Othello Critical Essay The imagination of the audience is captured by the fact that the drama involves interracial marriage that was unfathomable in those days.
  • Salih’s “Season of Migration to the North” and “Othello” by Shakespeare In his journey through those worst performances on English women leading a few to suicide, he did not consider the situation and emotions of women he met.
  • Story, Plot, and Symbolism of “Othello” Film The movie’s point of attack is Othello’s decision to overlook Iago for a promotion to the position of Lieutenant in favor of Cassio.
  • Minor Characters’ Role in the “Othello” by William Shakespeare In his play Othello, William Shakespeare also accentuates the meaning of minor characters and their actions for the development of the tragedy in Othello’s life.
  • Female Characters in Shakespeare’s “Othello”: A Feminist Critique This shows that Desdemona has completely accepted and respected her role as a woman in the society; she is an obedient wife to Othello.
  • Comparison of “Hamlet”, “King Lear” and “Othello” by Shakespeare Iago’s reports and the loss of the handkerchief appear to Othello reliable proofs of Desdemona’s unfaithfulness, and under the effect of anger the protagonist is both unable and unwilling to do further investigation.
  • Character of Iago in “Othello” by Shakespeare Analysis It is worth mentioning here that it is this attributes that he possessed that made him successful in manipulating other characters painting him to be a strong and compelling character.
  • Jealousy in “Othello” by W.Shakespear Othello is not perfect either and the reason he acts the way he acts is that he is jealous; not that Desdemona cannot match his ‘principles’.
  • Iago the Gardener`s Behavior in “Othello” by Shakespeare In the lead-up to the passage to be analyzed, Iago has tried to turn Brabantio, Desdemona’s father, against Othello by letting him know his daughter is “making the beast with two backs” with the Moor.
  • Othello’s Fall From Grace and Redemption at the End of the Play At the end of the play, Othello’s realizes that his naivety and lack of confidences in his wife’ innocence and fidelity.
  • Othello and Desdemona in “Othello” by Shakespeare This essay will discuss why the relationship between Othello and Desdemona was doomed from the start and how their tragic fate relates to the topic of jealousy.
  • Othello: A Tragic Hero Through the Prism of Aristotle’s Definition According to him, the prerequisite of a tragedy revolves around the plot of the play. Othello, who is the main character, is a perfect example of a tragic hero.
  • Othello’s Tragedy Othello is one of the characters who have features in William Shakespeare’s tragedy titled The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice. It is clear to note that the tragedy that befell Othello was because […]
  • The Life and Work of William Shakespeare: His Contribution to the Contemporary Theater In addition, the plays and sonnets of William Shakespeare continue to set the standard for the study of the English language in its dramatic context in institutes of higher learning and performance training.
  • Main Themes in “Othello” and “Chronicle of a Death Foretold” In fact, it appears that this passion is encouraged by the feelings of regret and shame more than by affection to Bayardo.
  • The Heroism of Othello He is a tragic hero because of how he fits the mold, with the single difference that instead of pride, Othello is unwise in his placement of loyalties.
  • Cultural Diversity in the Play “Othello” It is the role of men to support women in this society, and that is why Desdemona’s father goes to court immediately, he is convinced that his daughter was bewitched by Othello.
  • The Tragedy of Othello by William Shakespeare: Bianca’s Innocence The Tragedy of Othello the Moor of Venice is considered one of the most popular works of William Shakespeare. The young courtesan, Bianca, is presented in the play as the mistress of one of the […]
  • Symbolism in Shakespeare’s Othello and Pope’s The Rape of the Lock This paper aims to compare the aspects of symbolism in Othello and The Rape of the Lock. The lock in the poem “The Rape of the Lock” is more than just a coiled strand of […]
  • Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ Act 1 Scene 2, Lines 60-82 This passage is in the form of a dialogue between the two characters in the play. The above lines portray Othello as a victim of prejudice.
  • Why “Othello” by William Shakespeare Is a Tragedy To be classified as an Aristotelian tragedy, a film or story must be complex and include a situation in which a respectable person suffers a complete reversal of fortunes due to a fatal mistake and […]
  • William Shakespeare’s Othello Summary | Essay Example Othello leaves Venice in the company of his wife, Iago and Cassio and Desdemona’s attendant known as Emilia. Othello’s love for Desdemona is a major weakness that leads to his downfall.
  • Racism in Play “Othello” by William Shakespeare Since Othello is dark-skinned, the society is against his marriage to the daughter of the senator of Venice. In summary, the play Othello is captivating and presents racism as it was.
  • Shakespeare’s “Othello” and Miller’s “The Crucible” The villains in both “Othello” and “The Crucible” are unique in their proficiency in the use of language for manipulating others and their ability to use the current setting for achieving their goals; Abigail is […]
  • “Othello” by William Shakespeare: Summary and Analysis He in this way believes that Iago is an honest man and trusts him to an extent that, he leaves him with his wife and entrusts him to take care of his wife through the […]
  • Racism in Shakespeare’s “Othello” The purpose of this essay is to detect and analyze various traits of racism in Shakespeare’s famous piece Othello and how it relates to the character of Othello.
  • “Le Morte Darthur” by Malory, Thomas and “Othello” by Shakespeare The mistrust grows, culminating in the assassinations of Emilia, Roderigo, and Desdemona, as well as Othello’s death. In truth, Iago’s evilness inspires Roderigo’s jealousy and Othello’s misgivings of his own innocent wife, Desdemona.
  • Lago’s Hatred and Jealousy in the “Othello” by William Shakespeare Othello is a story by William Shakespeare that revolves around four characters, Othello, who is the general in the Venetian Army, Lago, who was Othello’s assistant in the same army, Desdemona, the daughter of a […]
  • Appearance in “Othello” and “A Raisin in the Sun” The paper under analysis is based on the comparison of Othello by Shakespeare and A Raising in the Sun by Hansberry through the manifesting of the theme of the racial segregation and the nature of […]
  • ”Othello” and ”Chronicle of a Death Foretold”: A Difference Between Love and Passion Consequently, I believe that differences between passion and love have a tendency to exist, as passion is the uncontrolled actions to show affection, and love is the act of the understanding of the behavior of […]
  • Comparison of Marriage in Elizabethan Times and in “Othello” The man was believed to be the head of the family, and he had the legal right to punish his wife.
  • Shakespeare’s Othello, the Moor of Venice Iago’s paranoia is tremendous to an extent that his insanity is portrayed when he deludes Othello to kill his own wife.
  • Social Issues in Shakespeare’s “The Tragedy of Othello” The social environment of England at the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century was characterized by great attention to social class, citizens’ jobs, and their reputation.
  • Shakespeare’s Tragedy “Othello” Speaking of racism as a possible motivation for Iago’s behavior, it is worth noting that it is not the primary and only source of its manifestation.
  • Female Character in the Shakespeare’s Othello It appears that the primary role of women in the play is for them to act as a basis on which men are evaluated.
  • The Ultimate Irony: “Othello” by Shakespeare Iago, a jealous man from the beginning of the play, pretends to befriend Othello and speaks to him about the danger of jealousy.
  • Dramatic Irony in the “Othello” by William Shakespeare Othello, an eloquent and physically fit person is considered as the protagonist and hero of the play; however, in spite of his elevated status, he is nonetheless an easy prey to insecurities due to his […]
  • Racism in Shakespeare’s “Othello” and Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” The formalist analysis of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep repeats the same mistake, as it focuses on the plot devices and tropes presented in the story.
  • Iago and Othello Relationships With the help of relationships between Iago and Othello, Shakespeare conveyed the idea that good and evil have to coexist for the sake of the world balance.
  • Othello and Oedipus Rex Characters’ Traits The two characters had to overcome several obstacles in a manner that led many of their followers to respect and honor them, and their royal positions Othello can be considered to be a black member […]
  • Shakespeare’s Othello as a Subaltern Play Othello is considered a subaltern play that illustrates the conflict between the moral voice and silence of female characters and the treacherous voices of male figures.
  • Mind vs. Heart in “Othello” by William Shakespeare The main idea of the William Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello, written in 1604, is the confrontation of the mind and the heart.
  • Anti-Racism in Shakespeare’s Othello For Shakespeare, Brabantio’s views are representative of the racial prejudice of the society in general, rather than of his personal feelings towards the protagonist. On the other hand, Othello’s story is cohesive and believable; he […]
  • Othello and Desdemona: Emotional Strangers Unaware of what is happening, Desdemona continues to show her fierce devotion to her husband which both blinds her to the truth of Othello’s murderous emotions and feeds them.
  • The Character of Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello The greatest evil in the play, the catalyst for the tragedy to unfold, appears to be “the Devil,” the avatar of which can be seen in Iago.
  • The Theme of the Tragic Hero “Othello” For Othello, the doubt and suspicion growing in his mind regarding a possible relationship between Cassio and Desdemona were started with Desdemona’s father at the beginning of the play. For Othello, his greatest weakness is […]
  • Machiavelli and Othello’s Leadership Skills It is not that easy to control lots of people, and this is why it is better to define the steps, which will help to take everything under control and not to be kept by […]
  • “Othello” Through the Lens of Feminist Theory It depicts female characters in a state of submission and obedience and shows the disbalance in the distribution of power between men and women.
  • Iago’s Motives in Shakespeare’s Othello Play He does not seek to seize the treasure his intention is only to deprive the possessor of the treasure of pleasure. A cynic to the depths of his brain, he sees only the flipside in […]
  • Shakespeare and His View on Kingship: Macbeth, King Lear and Othello At the same time, it is beyond doubt in the basement Macbeth’s character is clean and as a soldier, he is true to his job and his king.
  • Philosophy of Literature: Shakespearean Tragedy In addition, it is also an indication of the facts that human beings are always nosy and ready to participate in other people’s issues.
  • Play Analysis: Shakespeare’s “Othello” and “Twelfth Night” Iago’s persona, which is portrayed as predatory and cynical, is crucial to the tragedy because it disturbs the plot. Shakespeare succeeds in making the play unsettling by utilizing a lot of epithets, metaphors, amplifications, repetitions, […]
  • Shakespeare’s Othello: Hero or Villain Review However, it is still possible to view Othello as a hero but a tragic one. He is a tragic hero who suffered from his actions.
  • The Significance of the Handkerchief to Othello The main reason for the discord is that Othello slept with his wife and justifies all the negativity toward Iago. The handkerchief is the best proof that Desdemona has entered into an intimate relationship with […]
  • The Use of Dark Symbolism in “Othello” and “Paradise Lost” Thus, the use of dark imagery in Milton’s work is implemented to heighten the contrast between light and darkness, good and evil.
  • Restoring Honor and Confidence in Shakespeare’s Othello The correlation of the fate of the hero with the development of society, which is the main distinguishing feature of the genre of tragedy, can take on a variety of artistic forms.
  • Analysis of Acts I and II of Shakespeare’s Othello Play In lines “and what’s he then that says I play the villain,” Iago acknowledges that he seduces his victim, Cassio, by pretending to display good intent.
  • Background of Shakespeare’s “Othello” and Sophocles’s “Antigone” Even though Othello is a Moor, he fights for Venice in this war and wins, thus proving his loyalty to the Christian Venice.
  • Power in Stories of Oedipus and Othello What woman in that period would not want to marry a high-ranking general and acquire the power that comes with it?
  • Critical Analysis of Shakespeare’s, “Othello”, Act V, Scene II Othello, a husband to Desdemona realizes later that Desdemona was a faithful and loving woman. Othello is determined to kill her however her beauty and innocent appearance restrict Othello.
  • Comparison of Oedipus and Othello Cases The essay intends to look at the life of Oedipus who is the main character of the book and how the gods were responsible for his downfall after the struggle he had gone through to […]
  • Exploring Diverse Perspectives on Shakespeare’s Othello: A Comprehensive Analysis He starts by briefly retelling the main events of Othello and proceeds to state that modern critics’ main concern is about the subjects of race and gender in their analyses of the play.
  • “Othello” by William Shakespeare: Military Honor and Othello The higher a person’s rank, the more he is expected to honor the code and the harder it is for him to conceive of someone else breaking it.
  • Shakespeare’s Othello: A Tragic Hero When Alexander the Great died, Aristotle fled to Chalcis, where he died the following year at the age of about 62 William Shakespeare was a strong adherent of Aristotle in his writings.
  • Shakespearean Othello as a Tragic Figure Enraged and hurt, he is mistaken in his judgments about Desdemona, it is anger that he is moved by and not his sound mind. Actually, Othello’s anger is an outcome of his jealousy.
  • Othello: The Shakespeare Story Analysis Using the three female characters of Desdemona, Emilia, and Bianca, Shakespeare gives us the common view of women through the eyes of Iago and the view of the nobility through the eyes of Brabantio, Desdemona’s […]
  • Speciesism in Shakespeare’s Othello and Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep In Shakespeare’s play, the motif of discrimination is explored in conjunction with Othello’s dark skin color, something that caused the “noble Moore” to be treated with suspicion by other characters throughout the play.
  • “Othello”, “A Worn Path” and “Negro” Literature Comparison Although Hughes in his “Negro” discusses race as the main source for the character’s identity and attempts to accentuate the role of the black race for the whole world history, Shakespeare in Othello and Welty […]
  • “Othello” a Play by W. Shakespeare Literature Analysis Consequently, Othello seeks to distance himself with the misconstrued stereotypes of a ‘Moor.’ This essay seeks to prove that the main character’s sense of identity leads to his self-destruction.
  • Compare and Contrast Shakespeare’s Othello and the Blind Owl by Sedayat On the other hand, in The Blind Owl, the storyteller, a pen-case decorator, falls in love with a naive woman who is virtuous and demonic at the same time. In The Blind Owl, it is […]
  • The Tragedy of Othello They include Othello, who is the lead actor; Desdemona, Othello’s wife; Cassio, Othello’s lieutenant; and Iago a junior officer in the army.
  • Treatment of Women by Shakespeare and Sophocles Othello disregards the explanation that Desdemona has in regard to the accusation of being unfaithful and kills her.’She’s, like a liar, gone to burning hell, Shakespeare 28.’ After Othello killed Desdemona, he believed more in […]
  • What Can Lawyers Learn From ‘Othello’? Shakespeare has employed one of the literature elements by using major characters like, Othello, a hero and the head of armies, Desdemona, Othello’s covert wife, Michael Cassio, Othello’s deputy, Lago, ranked below the lieutenant, among […]
  • Humiliation of Iago (Othello) In order to identify the actual reasons for Iago’s hatred to Desdemona and Othello, the author makes use of his own approach in analyzing the play through the prism of motives, plots, themes, and character […]
  • The Driving Force of Plot in Medea by Euripides, Othello by William Shakespeare, and the Epic of Gilgamesh Reading Medea by Euripides, Othello by William Shakespeare, and The Epic of Gilgamesh it becomes obvious that the driving force of plot is heroism, however, the nature of that heroism is different that may be […]
  • Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Othello: The Words and Actions of Iago To my mind, one of the most complex, captivating, and, at the same time, the most evil characters in Shakespeare’s plays is Iago from The Tragedy of Othello.
  • The Issue of Racial Prejudice The significance of Othello’s race and pigmentation work hard to expose racial prejudice in the Elizabethan era. Shakespeare is using the Moor to challenge the ideologies of race, sex and miscegenation in the Elizabethan period.
  • Othello and Snow Country: Personal Opinion As aforementioned, it is hard to differentiate between love and passion as they all come in the name of love. Nevertheless, because his ‘love’ for her is based on passion, he smothers her to death; […]
  • Elaborate on religious symbolism. What hell & heaven imagery is present in “Othello”? Explain how Desdemona can be compared to the Virgin Mary; how both Othello and Iago are associated with the Devil. Describe Othello’s “fall from grace.”
  • Compare Desdemona and Bianca. How are the women often contrasted in the play? How does the critical contrast, Desdemona’s virtue vs. Bianca’s sexual freedom, affect men’s attitude towards the respective women? Explore how both characters are more complex than the characteristics above.
  • Discuss heroism in “Othello.” Whose actions may be considered heroic? Who sincerely tries to act like a hero? Speculate on whether Iago may desire to be viewed as a heroic figure. Does Othello show heroism?
  • Analyze the conflict of passion and love in “Othello.” What does Othello feel towards Desdemona? Which of the emotions prevails? Explain why his actions and words are easy to interpret as passion, while his suicide may prove that he was in love with Desdemona.
  • Compare “Othello’s” Desdemona to “Hamlet’s” Ophelia. How do these female characters affect the plot of the respective plays? What influence do they and their fates have on the main Othello and Hamlet? Consider both of their tragic stories and their relationships with the main characters.
  • Elaborate on Desdemona’s and Othello’s relationship. How does it change throughout the play? Explain how Othello’s capability of creating a healthy and loving relationship that we see at the beginning of “Othello” goes against prejudice.
  • Explore the theme of racism in “Othello.” What characters have prejudice about Othello due to his race? Express how Othello’s speech and actions during the significant part of the play run contrary to the unreasonable expectations of his enemies.
  • Consider Othello’s suicide. What leads Othello to it? Why may an audience respect it and view it as a redemption for a fallen hero? Does suicide strengthen Othello’s heroism? Elaborate on this action in terms of Othello as a tragic hero.
  • Analyze various symbols from the play. Speculate on the meaning of such objects as wedding sheets from Act 4 Scene 3. What is the significance of a candle from Act 5 Scene 2? Provide a short analysis of each one with examples from the text.
  • Compare Othello’s and Desdemona’s relationship with that of Iago and Emilia. Which relationship was first to be struck by jealousy? Elaborate on Iago’s control and lack of interest towards Emilia instead of Othello’s devotion to Desdemona. Has Iago ever experienced the same level of jealousy (in his love life) as Othello?
  • Comment on the language of the play. What does the way Othello speaks say about him? How is the power of words highlighted in the play? Explain how Iago uses ambiguous and deceptive language to manipulate other characters.
  • Comment on Desdemona’s and Emilia’s friendship. Are they close? What do they discuss, particularly in Act 4, Scene 3? Express how Emilia proved her devotion to her mistress in Act 5 Scene 2. Why did Emilia lie to Desdemona about the handkerchief a few scenes before?
  • Explore animal imagery in “Othello.” Why is Othello constantly compared to animals throughout the play? Provide quotes where Iago calls him “Barbary horse” and so on and explain what it means concerning racism and prejudice.
  • Compare two plays: “Othello” and “Oedipus.” What are these tragedies based on? How do “Othello” and “Oedipus” end? Explain the reasons for the downfall of the hero that happens in both plays. What characters tried to prevent such a tragic end?
  • Examine Othello’s pride and honor. How are these aspects tied to his race and reputation? Mention how his uselessness during the war could’ve affected his pride and make Othello more susceptible to Iago’s manipulation. How does a thought of Desdemona’s infidelity hurt Othello’s pride?
  • Compare Othello’s and Bianca’s jealous behavior. Who takes the possibility of their lover’s infidelity better? Summarize their reasons for jealousy and their actions after gaining such a suspicion. Why is it intriguing that Bianca trusts her love interest more than Othello does?
  • Talk about Desdemona’s independence from her father. Why does Desdemona decide to disobey Brabantio’s will and elope with Othello? Was it common for the time? Explain how Desdemona both showed her independence and immediately became obedient to another man.
  • Compare the treatment of women in “Othello” and “Oedipus.” How did Shakespeare and Sophocles describe women in their plays? What role do these characters play in the stories? Analyze how men treat and talk about women in the plays. How does it reflect the period when “Othello” and “Oedipus” were written?
  • Analyze Othello’s changes throughout the play. What traits and behavior does he obtain and why? Does he become more himself by the end of the play than he was before, or it’s the opposite? Add a few examples of more animalistic behavior that Othello showed. Why did its features escalate and then disappear during Act 5 Scene 2?
  • Explore the relationship between Othello and Cassio. Was their friendship strong before Iago’s web of lies? Why was it easy for Othello to believe that Cassio had an affair with Desdemona? Explain how their relationship changed throughout the play.
  • Talk about murders in “Othello.” Why did Othello and Iago kill their respective wives? Why did Iago decide to kill Roderigo? Speculate on what causes murders in the play and how it’s connected to the themes of the play. Why did Cassio, whose death was planned by Iago early in “Othello,” survived
  • Compare Othello and Leontes from “The Winter’s Tale.” What traits do the characters have in common? What similar issues and conflicts do they face? Elaborate on the different ways that characters chose to solve their problems.
  • Analyze Othello’s character traits. What are his essential qualities? What traits are obtained (or revealed) due to Iago’s manipulations?
  • Shakespeare’s influence on the Renaissance period. How does “Othello” represent this period? What common motifs for the Renaissance did Shakespeare develop in the play? Comment on the author’s contributions to the time via “Othello.”
  • Compare the play with its movie adaptation. How did the director of the film modify “Othello”? Is this play cinematically adaptable? Elaborate on changes in the movie and the director’s goal (whether it was adapting the story to fit another period or making it more accurate and close to the text).
  • Comment on the theme of family. Who keeps in contact with their family in “Othello”? Who has a strong emotional connection to their roots? Elaborate on the relationship between Desdemona and her father.
  • Talk about Desdemona’s death. How did she die? Did she suspect that Othello may want to murder her? Analyze Desdemona’s last attempt to protect her husband, claiming that he’s innocent, and she committed suicide. Does it make her a perfect wife for that time?
  • Elaborate on the minor characters. Who are the critical minor characters? What role do they play in the plot progression? Briefly explain why they are vital for the story, as minor characters help us see the action from the inside, determine the path of the tragic hero, and develop the world of “Othello.”
  • Why Does Iago Convince Othello of Desdemona’s Infidelity?
  • How Are Othello and Blanche Dubois Alienated in Their Societies?
  • How Jealousy Leads Towards the Tragedy in “Othello”?
  • Why Iago From William Shakespeare’s “Othello” Is a Well-Written Villain?
  • Does Othello Meet the Standards of a Tragic Hero?
  • How Does Iago Convince Othello That Desdemona and Cassio Must Die?
  • What Role Does Race Plays in “Othello”?
  • How Does Iago Attempt to Poison Othello Against Desdemona?
  • How Do Age, Social Position, and Race Impact the Relationship Between Othello and Desdemona?
  • Can Pathos and Ethos Compel “Othello” Out of Logic?
  • How Are the Characters Empowered or Disempowered in “Brilliant Lies” and “Othello”?
  • Why Isn’t Shakespeare’s “Othello” Called Iago?
  • What Are the Qualities “Othello” Possesses Which Make It a Tragedy?
  • Does Iago Cause the Tragedy of Othello and Desdemona, or Is He Merely the Catalyst?
  • How Does Iago Convince Othello of Desdemona’s Infidelity?
  • Why Did Othello Kill Desdemona?
  • Why Does Othello Choose to Trust Iago Rather Than Desdemona?
  • Does Iago Cause the Tragedy of Othello?
  • What Are the Similarities Between “Macbeth” and “Othello”?
  • How Far Does the Context of War and Soldiery Contribute to the Tragedy in Shakespeare’s “Othello”?
  • Whose Responsibilities for Tragedy Outcome of “Othello”?
  • What Are the Contextual Factors Critical to the Study of “Othello”?
  • How Did Iago Manipulate Othello?
  • What Role Does Incoherent Language Play in “Othello”?
  • How Othello’s Personality Evolves in the Tragedy of “Othello” by William Shakespeare?
  • What Does Othello’s Speech and Say Tell Us About His Character?
  • Did Desdemona and Othello Experience True Love?
  • Did Othello Truly Love Desdemona?
  • How Does the Ending of “Othello” Relate to the Ideas and Characteristics of the Text?
  • Were “Othello” and “The Merchant of Venice” Racist Plays?
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Essays on Othello

🎭💔✍️ othello essay: dive into the drama.

Othello, the magnificent Shakespearean tragedy, is like a rollercoaster ride of emotions! 😱💔 Exploring this timeless masterpiece in an essay can unlock a world of insights and ignite your imagination 🔥. By delving into the depths of Othello's themes, characters, and plot twists, you can unravel the complexities of human nature and society. It's an opportunity to showcase your analytical skills and showcase your love for literature. So, buckle up and embark on an Othello essay adventure!

Othello Essay Topics 📝

Othello argumentative essay 🤔💬.

An argumentative essay on Othello requires you to take a stance and defend it with solid evidence from the play. Some intriguing topics to consider:

  • Is Othello a victim of racism or his own insecurities?
  • Did Iago's evil nature drive Othello to his tragic downfall?
  • Should Desdemona be held responsible for her fate?

Othello Cause and Effect Essay 🌪️🤯

In a cause and effect essay, you'll explore the ripple effects of certain actions or events in Othello. Here are some captivating topics to ponder:

  • The consequences of Iago's manipulation on Othello's relationships.
  • How jealousy leads to destruction in Othello's world.
  • The impact of societal norms on Othello's tragic fate.

Othello Opinion Essay 🗣️😮

Opinion essays allow you to express your personal viewpoint on specific aspects of Othello. Here are some thought-provoking topics to spark your imagination:

  • Is Othello's jealousy justified or exaggerated?
  • Should Othello have trusted Desdemona despite the rumors?
  • What role does gender play in the tragedy of Othello?

Othello Informative Essay 📚📖

Informative essays aim to educate readers about various aspects of Othello. Here are some enlightening topics to enlighten your audience:

  • The historical context of Othello: Shakespeare's portrayal of race and society.
  • The symbolism of the handkerchief in Othello and its significance.
  • The evolution of Othello's character throughout the play.

Othello Essay Example 📑

Othello thesis statement examples 📜💡.

Here are a few thesis statement examples to inspire your Othello essay:

  • Thesis: Othello's tragic downfall is a result of his vulnerability to manipulation by Iago due to his insecurities about his race and age.
  • Thesis: The handkerchief symbolizes trust, fidelity, and betrayal in Othello, highlighting the fragility of relationships.
  • Thesis: Othello's jealousy is fueled by societal expectations and gender roles, leading to the tragedy that unfolds.

Othello Essay Introduction Examples 🌟

Here are some introduction paragraph examples for your Othello essay:

  • Introduction: Othello, a play filled with love, deception, and revenge...
  • Introduction: In the realm of Shakespearean tragedies, Othello stands as a poignant exploration of love, jealousy, and the destructive power of manipulation. As we venture into the depths of this timeless masterpiece, we are transported to a world where trust is fragile, and motives are concealed. Othello's journey, from a celebrated Moorish general to a tragic figure consumed by jealousy, invites us to contemplate the complexities of human emotion and the consequences of unchecked suspicion.
  • Introduction: Othello, the Moor of Venice, is a character whose name echoes through the annals of literary history. In our exploration of Othello's tragic tale, we confront issues of race, trust, and the corrosive force of jealousy. As we delve into this gripping narrative, we are challenged to dissect the motives of its characters and the underlying themes that continue to resonate in today's society.

Othello Essay Conclusion Examples 🔚📝

Here are some conclusion paragraph examples for your Othello essay:

  • Conclusion: As we bid farewell to the tragic world of Othello, we are left with a profound exploration of human nature, jealousy, and the consequences of deceit. Shakespeare's timeless masterpiece continues to captivate and haunt our hearts, reminding us of the enduring power of storytelling.
  • Conclusion: In the final act of Othello, we witness the devastating aftermath of jealousy and manipulation. The tragic downfall of Othello, Desdemona, and others serves as a cautionary tale, reminding us of the destructive potential of unchecked emotions. As we bid farewell to this tale of love and betrayal, let us carry forward the lessons learned from the characters' fates, recognizing the enduring relevance of Shakespeare's exploration of the human condition.
  • Conclusion: Othello, a masterpiece of tragedy, leaves an indelible mark on our understanding of human nature. Through the twists and turns of its plot, we are confronted with the consequences of jealousy and deceit. As our journey through this timeless work comes to a close, let us reflect on the enduring power of literature to illuminate the complexities of the human soul and the fragility of trust.

Othello's Soliloquies: a Window into The Tragic Downfall

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Quotes on Jealousy in Othello

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Othello: Desdemona as a Representation of Power and Possession

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The Power of Jealousy in Shakespeare’s Othello

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1603, William Shakespeare

Play; Tragedy

Othello, Desdemona, Iago, Michael Cassio, Emilia, Roderigo, Bianca, Brabanzio, Duke of Venice, Montano, Lodovico, Graziano, Clown

The play is primarily based on a story from an Italian novella called "Un Capitano Moro" by Cinthio. Shakespeare took inspiration from this source material and adapted it into his own version, adding depth and complexity to the characters and exploring themes of jealousy, betrayal, and manipulation.

In the tragic play "Othello" by William Shakespeare , the story follows the powerful and respected Moorish general, Othello. Othello secretly marries Desdemona, a Venetian woman, despite objections from her father, Brabantio. Othello's ensign, Iago, harboring deep resentment and jealousy, manipulates events to destroy Othello's life. Iago plants seeds of doubt in Othello's mind, insinuating that Desdemona has been unfaithful to him with his lieutenant, Cassio. Consumed by jealousy, Othello becomes increasingly suspicious and tormented by his thoughts. Iago's cunning manipulations lead Othello to believe in the alleged affair, pushing him into a spiral of rage and despair. Othello's doubts intensify, leading him to confront Desdemona and ultimately strangle her in a fit of madness. Upon discovering the truth and Iago's treachery, Othello takes his own life in a moment of devastating realization. The play concludes with Iago's exposure and punishment for his deceitful actions.

The play "Othello" by William Shakespeare is set in the late 16th century, primarily in the city of Venice and later on the island of Cyprus. Venice, a vibrant and cosmopolitan city, serves as the initial backdrop for the story. Its opulent palaces, canals, and bustling streets create an atmosphere of grandeur and sophistication. The Venetian setting reflects the cultural diversity of the time, with characters from various backgrounds and ethnicities. As the plot progresses, the setting shifts to the island of Cyprus, where Othello is stationed with his troops. Cyprus offers a contrasting environment to Venice, characterized by its remote and isolated nature. The island's rugged landscape and military camp create a tense and confined atmosphere, amplifying the dramatic events that unfold. Both settings play a significant role in the play's themes and conflicts. Venice represents the veneer of civilization and societal expectations, while Cyprus represents the raw emotions, passions, and darker aspects of human nature. The contrasting settings highlight the clash between appearances and reality, order and chaos, and ultimately contribute to the tragedy that unfolds in "Othello."

1. Jealousy and Betrayal: The theme of jealousy lies at the heart of the play, as Iago manipulates Othello's trust and fuels his insecurities, leading to tragic consequences. Betrayal is also explored as characters deceive one another for personal gain, highlighting the destructive power of envy and deceit. 2. Racism and Prejudice: Othello, a Moorish general, faces discrimination and racial prejudice throughout the play. Shakespeare examines the destructive effects of racism, as Othello's character is systematically undermined and ultimately destroyed by the racist assumptions and stereotypes held by others. 3. Appearance versus Reality: The theme of appearance versus reality is prevalent as characters wear masks of virtue and honesty while concealing their true intentions. Othello's tragic downfall is a result of his inability to discern truth from falsehood, emphasizing the dangers of misjudgment and manipulation. 4. Love and Obsession: The play explores various forms of love, from passionate romance to obsessive possessiveness. The intense love between Othello and Desdemona is contrasted with Iago's twisted obsession with destroying their happiness, shedding light on the complexities of human relationships. 5. Gender and Power: Shakespeare examines gender dynamics and the societal expectations placed upon women. Desdemona's character challenges traditional gender roles, while Emilia, Iago's wife, highlights the subjugation of women and the consequences of male dominance.

1. Imagery: Shakespeare skillfully uses vivid imagery to create powerful visual and sensory impressions. For example, in Act 1, Scene 1, Iago describes Othello and Desdemona's elopement as "an old black ram / Is tupping your white ewe," employing the contrasting images of a black ram and a white ewe to convey the scandalous nature of their relationship. 2. Soliloquy: Soliloquies allow characters to express their inner thoughts and feelings to the audience. One notable example is Othello's soliloquy in Act 5, Scene 2, where he reflects on his decision to kill Desdemona, saying, "It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul," revealing his internal struggle and justifying his actions. 3. Foreshadowing: Shakespeare employs foreshadowing to hint at future events and build tension. In Act 3, Scene 3, Desdemona tells Othello, "The heavens forbid / But that our loves and comforts should increase / Even as our days do grow," foreshadowing the impending tragedy and the deterioration of their relationship. 4. Irony: Irony is used to create a contrast between what is expected and what actually occurs. For instance, when Iago says, "I am not what I am," in Act 1, Scene 1, it is an ironic statement, as he presents himself as trustworthy while plotting Othello's downfall. 5. Symbolism: Shakespeare employs symbolism to convey deeper meanings. The handkerchief, a symbol of fidelity, becomes a significant object in the play. Its loss and subsequent manipulation by Iago symbolize the erosion of trust and the unraveling of Othello's marriage.

In 1995, director Oliver Parker released a film adaptation of "Othello" starring Laurence Fishburne as the titular character. Fishburne's portrayal emphasized Othello's dignity and inner conflict, earning critical acclaim. Another notable film adaptation is Orson Welles' 1952 version, where Welles himself took on the role of Othello, showcasing his powerful presence on screen. "Othello" continues to be performed on stage worldwide. Notable theatrical productions include the Royal Shakespeare Company's 2015 production, featuring Hugh Quarshie as Othello, and the 2007 Broadway revival, with Chiwetel Ejiofor in the lead role, receiving critical acclaim for their compelling interpretations. Othello's character has also been explored in literary adaptations and reimaginings. For example, in 2001, author Sena Jeter Naslund wrote the novel "Ahab's Wife," where she includes a fictional encounter between Othello and the protagonist. These adaptations offer different perspectives and delve into the complexity of Othello's character. Othello's story has inspired numerous musical compositions. One notable example is the opera "Otello" by Giuseppe Verdi, which premiered in 1887. Verdi's powerful music captures the intense emotions of the characters and brings Othello's tragic tale to life.

1. Literary Influence: "Othello" has had a profound influence on subsequent works of literature. Its exploration of themes such as jealousy, betrayal, and the destructive power of manipulation has inspired countless writers. For example, Toni Morrison's novel "A Mercy" draws parallels to "Othello" in its exploration of race and power dynamics. The play's tragic elements and psychological depth have also influenced works like James Joyce's "Ulysses" and D.H. Lawrence's "Women in Love." 2. Psychological Exploration: Othello's tragic descent into jealousy and manipulation has made the play a subject of psychological analysis. The character's inner conflict and the manipulation he falls victim to offer rich material for the study of human psychology, particularly in relation to themes of trust, self-doubt, and the destructive nature of unchecked emotions. 3. Social Commentary: "Othello" addresses issues of race, identity, and prejudice, making it a powerful tool for social commentary. The play's examination of racial stereotypes and the destructive consequences of discrimination still resonate today. Othello's position as a black man in a predominantly white society has been explored and analyzed in the context of race relations, colonialism, and social injustice. 4. Performance and Theater: "Othello" has had a lasting impact on the world of theater and performance. The character of Othello presents a unique and complex role for actors, requiring both physical presence and emotional depth. The play's themes and dramatic tension continue to captivate audiences, leading to numerous adaptations, productions, and reinterpretations on stage. 5. Language and Imagery: Shakespeare's masterful use of language and vivid imagery in "Othello" has had a lasting impact on the English language. Phrases like "green-eyed monster" and "the beast with two backs" have become part of the cultural lexicon. The play's powerful speeches and soliloquies have been studied, quoted, and admired for their beauty and poetic expression.

1. "Othello" is believed to have been first performed around 1604. While the exact date is unknown, it is widely believed to have premiered at the Court of King James I in London. The play was met with great success and has since become one of Shakespeare's most acclaimed tragedies. 2. "Othello" has contributed several phrases and expressions to the English language. One notable example is the term "the green-eyed monster," used to describe jealousy. This phrase has become a popular way to convey the destructive nature of envy. Additionally, the phrase "wear my heart upon my sleeve" originates from the play, referring to openly displaying one's emotions. 3. Traditionally, the character of Othello has been played by a white actor in blackface makeup. This casting practice has faced criticism and controversy over the years, as it perpetuates racial stereotypes and limits opportunities for actors of color. In recent times, there has been a growing movement towards authentic casting, with actors of African descent portraying the role to offer a more nuanced and authentic representation of Othello's racial identity.

"Othello" remains a timeless and significant work in literature, making it an important subject for essays and academic discussions. Shakespeare's masterful exploration of themes such as jealousy, deception, race, and power continues to resonate with audiences across generations. The character of Othello, a Moorish general in a predominantly white society, raises critical questions about racism, discrimination, and the manipulation of prejudices. Additionally, the play delves into the destructive nature of jealousy and how it can lead to tragic consequences. Writing an essay about "Othello" allows scholars to analyze the complexity of characters like Iago, whose malevolent machinations drive the plot. It offers opportunities to discuss the portrayal of women in the play and the theme of women's agency in a patriarchal society. Furthermore, exploring the play's language, literary devices, and poetic techniques showcases Shakespeare's genius as a playwright. By grappling with the moral dilemmas and psychological depth of the characters, an essay on "Othello" opens doors to deeper insights into human nature, society, and the enduring power of Shakespeare's storytelling.

"She loved me for the dangers I had passed, And I loved her that she did pity them. This only is the witchcraft I have used." "I kissed thee ere I killed thee — no way but this, killing myself to die upon a kiss" "Reputation, reputation, reputation! Oh, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial" "Men in rage strike those that wish them best" "But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve for daws to peck at: I am not what I am"

1. Chandler, M. (1987). The Othello effect. Human development, 30(3), 137-159. (https://www.karger.com/article/Abstract/273174) 2. Shakespeare, W. (2019). othello. In One-Hour Shakespeare (pp. 231-302). Routledge. (https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9780429262715-11/othello-william-shakespeare) 3. Neill, M. (1989). Unproper beds: Race, adultery, and the hideous in Othello. Shakespeare Quarterly, 40(4), 383-412. (https://www.jstor.org/stable/2870608) 4 . Neely, C. T. (1977). Women and Men in" Othello";" what should such a fool/Do with so good a woman?". Shakespeare Studies, 10, 133. (https://www.proquest.com/openview/91053b700d876bd2b3be478cb40742b1/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=1819311) 5. Cipriani, G., Vedovello, M., Nuti, A., & Di Fiorino, A. (2012). Dangerous passion: Othello syndrome and dementia. Psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, 66(6), 467-473. (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1440-1819.2012.02386.x) 6. Siegel, P. N. (1953). The Damnation of Othello. PMLA, 68(5), 1068-1078. (https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/pmla/article/abs/damnation-of-othello/F3193C55450F83F4EFACB0DDF5983B0E) 7. Poulson, C., Duncan, J., & Massie, M. (2005). “I Am Not What I Am”–Destructive Emotions in an Organizational Hierarchy: The Case of Othello and Iago. In The Effect of Affect in Organizational Settings (Vol. 1, pp. 211-240). Emerald Group Publishing Limited. (https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1016/S1746-9791(05)01109-0/full/html) 8. Bristol, M. D. (1990). Charivari and the Comedy of Abjection in" Othello". Renaissance Drama, 21, 3-21. (https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/rd.21.41917258?journalCode=rd) 9. Nowottny, W. (1954). Justice and love in Othello. University of Toronto Quarterly, 21(4), 330-344. (https://www.utpjournals.press/doi/abs/10.3138/utq.21.4.330) 10. Braden, W. S. (1990). The Properties of" Othello,". Philosophy and Literature, 14(1), 186-187. (https://muse.jhu.edu/pub/1/article/417219/summary)

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Art Of Smart Education

A Comprehensive Guide to Analysing ‘Othello’ for English: Summary, Context, Themes & Characters

Shakespeare Othello

Are you studying Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ and are struggling to understand his writing, the themes and crafting an essay for your upcoming assessment? We’re here to help you with a simple summary of Othello, its key characters and context so you can formulate your own analysis!

PLUS, you’ll be getting a step-by-step analysis table (called a TEE Table ) as well as a sample paragraph so you can see what an extensive response looks like. 

So, let’s get into it and ace your essay on Othello! 

Summary of Othello Key Characters in Othello Context Themes Explored in Othello Essay Analysis of Othello

Summary of Othello

Othello is one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies, performed in five acts depicting the dramatic downfall of a hero as a result of racial prejudice, jealousy and pride.

The play is set in motion when an African General in the Venetian Army, Othello, passes over Iago , a senior officer in the Venetian Army who is under Othello’s command, to promote Michael Cassio as his chief lieutenant instead.

Driven by extreme hate and jealousy of Othello’s celebrated successes and his need for control, Iago is determined to destroy Othello and begins to plot Othello’s undoing through his wife, Desdemona, the daughter of an important Venetian senator, Brabantio. 

Othello and Iago

Laurence Fishburne and Kenneth Brannagh as Othello and Iago in Oliver Parker’s 1995 ‘ Othello’

Iago firstly enlists Roderigo, Desdemona’s rejected lover, to inform Brabantio about Desdemona’s elopement to Othello, urging an enraged Brabantio to appeal to the Duke of Venice to have Othello punished for seducing Desdemona by witchcraft. However, Othello defends himself in front of Brabantio and his senators, Desdemona confirms that she is deeply in love with Othello , and that their marriage was not coerced.

Brabantio warns Othello that Desdemona will betray him , and says, “ Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see. She has deceived her father, and may thee,” to which Iago takes note as they leave Venice for Cyprus. 

Frith, William Powell, 1819-1909; Othello and Desdemona

After arriving in Cyprus and learning that the storm has destroyed the Turkish fleet, Othello commences a celebration with his army, while he leaves to consummate his marriage to Desdemona. Iago gets Cassio drunk, and persuades Roderigo to duel Cassio.

Montano tries to calm them down, but an inebriated Cassio proceeds to fight, injuring Montano in the process. Othello reappears, questions the men and blames Cassio for the feud, thus stripping him off his rank.

Cassio is distraught, however, Iago convinces him to plead to Desdemona to have Othello reinstate him. She succeeds. 

Iago begins to convince Othello of a false affair between Cassio and Desdemona. When Desdemona drops her handkerchief, Othello’s first gift to her, Emilia (Iago’s wife) gives it to Iago, unaware of his plans.

Persuaded by Iago’s false claims and planting seeds of doubt, Othello swears Desdemona and Cassio’s death, and promotes Iago as his lieutenant. 

Handkerchief

Iago then plants Desdemona’s handkerchief in Cassio’s belongings, while ordering Othello to watch Cassio’s responses as Iago questions him from afar. While Iago questions Cassio about his affair with Bianca, a local courtesan, Othello is made to believe that the two men are talking about Desdemona.

Meanwhile, Bianca appears and accuses Cassio of gifting her with a second-hand item. Othello, still watching from afar, is enraged, and believes Iago’s claims that Desdemona had given this handkerchief to Cassio.

A hurt Othello resolves to kill Desdemona and Cassio with Iago’s help , and strikes Desdemona in front of visiting Venetian nobles. Roderigo, still upset, is urged by Iago to kill Cassio. 

Access Othello Downloadable Sample Paragraph and Examples of Essay Analysis here!

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Roderigo pursues Cassio in the streets, and Cassio injures Roderigo. Meanwhile, Iago appears from the shadows and stabs Cassio from behind, wounding his leg.

In the night, Iago manages to hide his identity, and joins Lodovico and Gratiano when Cassio cries for help, thus appearing as unknowing of the scuffle. When Cassio identifies Roderigo as the attacker, Iago stabs him to prevent him from revealing the plan. 

Othello confronts Desdemona, and smothers her with a pillow. Emilia arrives, calling for help, to which the former governor Montano arrive with Gratiano and Iago. After Othello shows proof of the handkerchief, Emilia realises Iago’s plot and exposes him, whereupon he kills her.

Meanwhile, Othello realises Desdemona’s innocence and stabs Iago in revenge. Iago refuses to explain his motives and Lodovico apprehends Iago and Othello for the murders of both the women, but Othello commits suicide. Cassio arrives and is promoted as Othello’s successor, and punishes Iago justly. 

Key Characters in Othello

Othello As a competent and highly regarded serviceman of the Venetian Republic, Othello is the ‘Moorish’ General of the Venetian Army and the protagonist of our story. He elopes with Desdemona, and ultimately succumbs to Iago’s deceit, leading to his tragic death.  The audience follows Othello’s eventual downfall through the collapse of his own self-perception, as instigated and dominantly narrated by Iago. It is through Iago that the audience sees Othello’s eroding sense of self, calculating his moves to remind Othello that he is the ‘Moor’ and signifying his difference. Here, Othello’s own fears of himself of his age, his status and his race come to light, especially the fear of Desdemona’s infidelity which immediately leads him to farewell his soldierly career. He is referred to as “an old black ram” in comparison to Desdemona’s nature as a “white ewe” (I.i.88), ostracising him from the rest of society and thus making him an easy prey for Iago. Until the very late stages of the play, Othello’s agency is not singular, but instead is driven by Iago.  A Moor by James Northcote (1826) – Ira Alridge as the first Black actor in Britain to play Othello Sourced from Manchester Art Gallery However, Othello also positions himself as an outsider, which adds to his victimisation. Though Othello’s skill as a soldier and leader positions him as a great influence, it is still his exotic qualities that entice others such as Desdemona and Brabantio to him. As an eloquent speaker, the Duke mentions that ‘I think this tale would win my daughter too’ (I.iii.70). These qualities present him as an outsider, both in race and in eloquence, thus creating a cathartic ending for a hero falling prey to tragedy. 
Iago It is clear that Iago’s extreme jealousy and need to avenge Othello’s ‘wrongdoing’ engineers the plot for revenge. Here, Iago’s malicious intentions cultivate the entire scenario of revenge in the play, and thus, he is widely regarded as a ‘Machiavellian’ character (fro​​m Machiavelli’s 1532 political treatise The Prince ). He is cunning, cold, and concerned with personal gain over morality.  Charles Kemble as Iago in Othello, by Richard James Lane (1840) Sourced from National Portrait Gallery, London Iago cleverly distorts Othello’s reality of himself and the reality for the rest of the characters, creating an ambiguous and distrustful narrative that culminates in destruction . Firstly, Iago’s jealousy stems from his hatred for Othello’s success as an outsider in Venice . Othello occupies a difficult position and becomes the most fated soldier, despite his appearance in a European city. This charges Iago’s animalistic language towards Othello, regarding him as a ‘Barbary horse’ (1.i.113). Secondly, he resents Cassio’s rise to power (1.iii). Possessing an extraordinary power to manipulate, Iago’s jealousy acts as a catalyst to create a cycle of revenge and envy that loops in Othello and Roderigo to destruction. 

Context of Othello

The earliest recorded performance of Othello was in 1604, under the title The Moor of Venice , during the cusps of the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I. Othello’s Mediterranean setting is significant as it presents an age of increasing European maritime power, and authority over the ocean was crucial for the politics in Mediterranean states.

This involved both Western powers (Spain, Portugal and Italy) as well as the Eastern Mediterranean empire of the Ottomans (modern day Turkey), who were in constant conflict over control of the Adriatic and eastern Mediterranean seas.

While the first part of the play is set in Europe, Act II of the play is set in the small island of Cyprus , the site of Venetian and Ottoman rivalries. After the death of James II, Venice had full control of Cyprus, which proved strategic for Venetian Army to launch attacks against the Ottomans. Othello’s military successes are set within this conflict. 

Othello Castle

Othello’s Castle, North Cyprus

Sourced from Visit North Cyprus

Othello’s life story also reflects the mobility (including enforced) of lives across the Mediterranean. Othello is referred to as a ‘Moor’, signifying his racial difference from the rest of the — mostly white — European characters.

However, there is no clear concept of ‘Moor’, as the term can refer to an Arabian person from North Africa or a Southern Spanish person. This term is used today in quotations.

Though Othello’s race bridges the gap between his military service and war against the Muslim empire, Othello nevertheless succumbs to Iago’s words, increasingly becoming vulnerable about his status and heightening his insecurities. Iago plays on the cultural divide between black-and-white, ultimately fuelling Othello’s anxiety and the downfall of his status and his marriage.

Themes Explored in Othello

Below are some key ideas from Othello. These are great starting points for you to consider your arguments, thesis and topic sentences:

Racial Prejudice

  • Jealousy and revenge
  • Deception — appearance VS reality

The role of racial prejudice is imperative in Iago’s emotional and mental poisoning of Othello, driving him to the point of distrust and extreme isolation. Other characters already hold Desdemona and Othello’s marriage in disdain, such as Brabantio who warns that “Bond-slaves and pagans shall our statesman be” (1.i.98-99), putting them against the status quo and the present view of their world.

Iago only exacerbates Othello’s ingrained fears of ‘Moorish’ differences towards his position in the Army, his wife and his status in Venice, becoming a lethal weapon in Othello’s self-destruction.

This drives him to the point of isolation and self-hatred, where he trusts no one but Iago. Eventually, Othello begins to blame his complexion for allegedly depriving his wife of her good nature: ‘Her name, that was as fresh / As Dian’s visage, is now begrim’d and black / As mine own face’ (3.ii.386-8).

His inherent fears of his Moorish complexity and exotic characteristics tainting his wife consequently prompts his vulnerability towards his marriage, and his lack of self-reassurance unconsciously places him in a white perspective of his own blackness. Therefore, these ingrained perspectives of himself in society seal both the fates of himself and of Desdemona. 

Jealousy and Revenge

Iago’s jealousy drives him to deadly extremes to emotionally violate his alleged ‘oppressors’, and provokes the rest of his characters such as Roderigo, Bianca and Othello into ‘the green-eyed monster’ (3.iii.166).

Roderigo’s unrequited love for Desdemona makes him extremely jealous of Othello, and Bianca is jealous when she finds Desdemona’s handkerchief in Cassio’s lodgings. Iago provokes this jealousy on Othello with the handkerchief as ‘ocular proof’ (3.iii.360) of the infidelity, which has been passed from Desdemona, to Emilia and then to Bianca, drawing an implicit parallel between the innocent women and the men’s perception of women in marriage.

This consumes Othello the most, in which Iago’s extreme need for revenge fuels the strategically distorted narrative, confirms his suspicions and fulfils his expectations.

Deception — Appearance VS Reality

Iago’s power to manipulate allows him to plant seeds of doubt in Othello and other characters throughout the play. His success to quickly and cleverly manipulate Othello stems from the tales of perceived misogyny and view of female sexuality that is already shared among men.

Iago reminds Othello that Desdemona is a creature of deception, as she ‘did deceive her father, marrying you’ (3.iii.206), and that she will do so to him: ‘Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see; / She has deceived her father, and may thee’ (1.iii.292-3). 

Dramatic irony (the gap of knowledge between what the audience and the character knows) serves as a catharsis for the audience and provokes an emotional response in the tragedy. Here, Iago continues to finely calibrate a sense of torment in Othello’s imagination through his deceptive language as he tells Othello that Cassio lies ‘with [Desdemona], on her, as you will’ (4.i).

In doing so, he constantly plants mental images of uncertainty and instability in Othello, leaving Othello to connect and unknowingly create a flawed narrative that he believes to be true . Iago masks this deception as he merely justifies his actions by reflecting his victim’s own beliefs: ‘I told him what I thought and no more / Than what he found himself was apt and true’ (5.ii.176-77). 

In this way, he deflects blame from himself, and while he engineers the chaos, he does not become the fundamental source of Othello’s, Desdemona’s and Emilia’s deaths. 

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Essay Analysis: How to Analyse Othello in 3 Steps

Most students will begin to write their essay and their thesis without any supporting evidence, themes or analysis . You will need to equip yourself with the knowledge of your text before answering anything about it. 

Analysing a text, providing it with evidence and techniques may be easier than you think… it’s like a formula! We can say ‘a + b = c’. But what are these?

A = Evidence B = Technique C = Analysis

After knowing your text, you can build ideas from it, and start writing your thesis! So, let’s walk through on how to analyse Othello:

Step 1: Choosing your evidence (‘A’)

Choosing your evidence can be tough, because there are just so many good ones you can choose from! 

But you need to remember that you must choose evidence that supports your argument and answers the question . But how do we do that?

Let’s gather important pieces that we have seen throughout this article. Here is one we have chosen for you:

‘Even now, now, very now, an old black ram / Is tupping your white ewe’ (1.i.88-89)

Step 2: Identifying your technique(s) (‘B’)

This isn’t just about finding any old technique or using a technique that is fancy and hoping for the best! It’s about what best suits your evidence, your analysis, and subsequently, your answer to the question.

Techniques are what help composers convey the message to their audience and their readers. So, we need to identify a technique that will enable you to say something about your idea that’s interesting, and will contribute to your analysis of Othello. 

Try to focus on finding examples with techniques which unveil a deeper meaning like metaphors, similes, figurative language, connotations, symbolism and recurring motifs. Other techniques like alliteration and repetition are a bit harder to find a deeper meaning in!

We have identified 3 techniques in the quote above: zoomorphism, contrast and metaphor . 

It’s always great to try and find multiple techniques in your quotes as it allows you to take your analysis up a notch!

Step 3: Writing your analysis (‘C’)

When you write the analysis for your essay on Othello, it is important to always focus on what the effect of the technique is . One of the worst things you can do when writing analysis is technique labelling. Technique labelling would look like this:

The zoomorphism between “black ram… tupping [your] white ewe” shows how Iago wants Brabantio to see Othello’s elopement to Desdemona, contrasting his physical appearance and nature to hers. 

Instead, we need to flesh out how those techniques get us to our point . Firstly, Iago’s language is important as he uses zoomorphism to reduce Othello and Desdemona into animals.

Secondly, the contrast between the “black ram” and “white ewe” is important to signify the binary oppositions between Othello and Desdemona.

Lastly, the use of the metaphor of animals is important as it depicts that Othello and Desdemona’s behaviour is greatly looked down upon, especially in a Venetian society. 

So, if we include that in our essay analysis of Othello, this would look like…

Iago’s cries to Brabantio that “Even now, now, very now, an old black ram / Is tupping your white ewe” (1.i.88-89), using zoomorphism to reduce Othello and Desdemona’s wildly radical behaviour into animals. The contrast between the “black ram” and the “white ewe” signifies the binary oppositions between Othello and Desdemona, and is a metaphor for their disapproved marriage against social norms and the racial prejudice pervading their Venetian society.

Need some help with your essay analysis of other texts aside from Othello?

Check out other texts we’ve created guides for below:

  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Run Lola Run
  • The Great Gatsby
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • The Book Thief
  • The Tempest
  • Blade Runner
  • Things Fall Apart
  • Mrs Dalloway

We’ve also got articles specifically on plays by Shakespeare which you can have a read through below:

  • King Richard III
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • Much Ado About Nothing

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Interesting Literature

A Summary and Analysis of William Shakespeare’s Othello

By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)

Othello is one of Shakespeare’s five best-known and widely studied tragedies, along with Hamlet , Macbeth , King Lear , and Romeo and Juliet . But as is so often with a well-known text, we don’t know this one nearly as well as we think we do: Othello has more in it than jealousy, the ‘green-eyed monster’, and (implied) racial hatred.

These themes are central to the play’s power, but one of the triumphs of Othello , as the analysis below attempts to demonstrate, is how well Shakespeare weaves different themes and elements together at once. Before we analyse some of these themes, it might be worth recapping the plot of this great tragedy which has inspired everything from opera (Verdi’s Otello ) to a rock musical ( Catch My Soul , from the 1960s).

Othello : plot summary

The main action of the play takes place in Venice, as the play’s subtitle, The Moor of Venice , makes clear. Iago is ensign or flag-bearer to the great military general, Othello, who is a Moor (i.e. a north African Muslim). Iago expects to be promoted to the rank of lieutenant, but instead Othello passes him over in favour of Cassio. For this reason (at least he claims), Iago declares that he hates Othello and will wreak vengeance on both Othello and Cassio.

His first plot is to try to prevent Othello’s marriage to Desdemona, the beautiful daughter of Brabantio, by telling Brabantio that Othello and Desdemona have already slept together even though they are not married. Brabantio summons Othello before the court, but Othello convinces him that he and Desdemona have not yet lain together, and the two of them are married.

Next, in Cyprus on a military campaign, Iago gets Cassio drunk and arranges a brawl, which he makes sure Othello witnesses; Othello has to strip the recently promoted Cassio of his commission. Iago then sets about convincing Othello that Cassio is having an affair with Desdemona; he tells Cassio to ask Desdemona to put in a good word for him with Othello so he might get his commission back (but with the result that Othello questions why his wife would want to plead for Cassio).

Iago, having got hold of a handkerchief of Desdemona’s, which she’d lost (a gift from Othello), hatches a plan to make Othello think his wife has been sleeping with Cassio. He hides the handkerchief in Cassio’s bedchamber and then tells Othello that Cassio has it.

When Othello asks Desdemona where her handkerchief is, she confesses that she has lost it; meanwhile, Cassio gives it to Bianca, his mistress, little realising that the handkerchief is part of Iago’s grand plan to implicate him in an imaginary affair.

Iago’s plan works, and Othello is convinced that there is something going on between Cassio and Desdemona. He tells Iago to kill Cassio, and he publicly strikes Desdemona, accusing her in front of everyone. Iago then tells Roderigo to kill Cassio, but Roderigo fails, so Iago kills him so nobody will find out about the plan.

Othello, consumed with jealousy, smothers Desdemona to death with a pillow, Emilia (Iago’s wife and Desdemona’s maid) tells Othello that she was the one who found the handkerchief and gave it to her husband; Iago kills her for revealing this, and Othello wounds Iago. Realising he has thrown away the life of an innocent woman he loved dearly, Othello kills himself publicly, Cassio is made governor of Cyprus, and Iago is taken off for punishment.

Othello : analysis

Othello is a play about sexual jealousy, and how one man can convince another man, who loves his wife dearly, that she has been unfaithful to him when she hasn’t. But Shakespeare does several very interesting, and artistically quite bold, things with this basic plot, and the characters he uses to tell the story.

First, he makes his hero noble, but unusually flawed. All heroes have a tragic flaw, of course: Macbeth’s is his ‘vaulting ambition’ , Hamlet’s is his habit of delaying or over-analysing (although the extent to which he actually delays can be questioned ), and so on. But Othello’s tragic flaw, his pride, is not simply noble or military pride concerned with doing the right thing (as a great military man might be expected to have), but a rather self-serving and self-regarding kind – indeed, self-regarding to the point of being self-destructive.

He is willing to believe his innocent wife has been unfaithful to him even though he is, to all intents and purposes, devoted to her. This makes him a more interesting tragic hero, in some ways, because he isn’t a spotless hero with one major blind spot: his blind spot is, in a sense, everyone else but himself.

Second, Shakespeare doesn’t make Iago, the villain, someone whose motives we can understand. Indeed, he goes out of his way to make Iago as inscrutable as possible. If the first rule of creative writing class is ‘show don’t tell’, the second or third rule may well be ‘make your characters’ motivations clear’.

Yet Shakespeare puts into Iago’s mouth several plausible ‘motives’ for wreaking the confusion and chaos that causes Othello’s downfall and Desdemona’s death, and in providing multiple motives, Iago emerges as ‘motiveless’, to use Coleridge’s famous description (Coleridge described Iago as being possessed of ‘ motiveless malignity ’). We cannot be sure why he is doing what he is doing.

But this does not mean that he is not being driven by anything. In Shakespeare’s source material for the play, a novella by the Italian author Cinthio, Iago is straightforwardly evil and devilish, intent on destroying Othello’s life, and with a clear motive. But Shakespeare’s Iago is more dangerous still: a human, with clearly human attributes and intellect, who nevertheless derives great pleasure from causing harm to others purely because … well, because it gives him pleasure.

Part of the genius of Shakespeare’s characterisation of Iago is that he makes him a convincing ensign to Othello, a loyal servant to the Moorish warrior, even while he is plotting Othello’s downfall. He is a villain, but a charming two-faced one. In Harold Goddard’s fine phrase, he is ‘a moral pyromaniac setting fire to all of reality’ (this phrase is quoted enthusiastically by Harold Bloom in his Shakespeare: The Invention Of The Human ).

Othello is also unlike many of Shakespeare’s other great tragedies, with the possible exception of Romeo and Juliet , in that its plot could easily have been co-opted for a comedy rather than a tragedy, where the confusion created by Iago’s plotting is resolved, the villain is punished, and the hero and heroine are reconciled to live happily ever after.

Compare, in this connection, Iago’s role in Othello with that of the villainous Don John in the earlier comedy, Much Ado about Nothing (a play we have analysed here ). Like Iago, Don John wants to wreck the (upcoming) marriage between Claudio and Hero, and sets about convincing Claudio that his bride-to-be cannot be trusted.

But in Much Ado , Hero’s fidelity is proved and Don John’s villainy is exposed, and we have a comedy. Much of Othello proceeds like a comedy that takes a very dark turn at the end, when it becomes apparent that Othello will not be reconciled with Desdemona, and that the sexual jealousy and suspicion he has been made to feel are too deep-rooted to be wiped out.

The whole thing is really, of course, Iago’s play, as many critics have observed: if Othello is the tragic lead in the drama, Iago is the stage-manager, director, and dramatist all wrapped up in one. Writers from Dickens to George R. R. Martin have often sorrowfully or gleefully talked of ‘killing off’ their own characters for the amusement of others; Iago wishes to ruin Othello’s marriage for his own amusement or, in Hazlitt’s phrase, ‘stabs men in the dark to prevent ennui ’.

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2 thoughts on “A Summary and Analysis of William Shakespeare’s Othello”

The racial issue is of paramount importance in this play. The only characters whose view of Othello is not distorted by racial stereotyping are Desdemona and Cassio. Desdemona’s dying words are an attempt to exculpate her husband, and Cassio’s first reaction on learning that he has been crippled thanks to Othello’s jealous suspicions is to exclaim “Dear General, I never gave you cause!” I find no evidence that Othello is a Muslim. We’re told that he was sold into slavery in his childhood; presumably he was raised as a Christian. The “Colour” issue would have been evident in the original performances, since the Moor would certainly have been played in blackface.

I had the great good fortune to see the 2007 production of Othello put on at the Donmar Warehouse with Chiwetel Ejiofor in the title role. It was a wonderful experience…

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essay about othello

Othello , tragedy in five acts by William Shakespeare , written in 1603–04 and published in 1622 in a quarto edition from a transcript of an authorial manuscript. The text published in the First Folio of 1623 seems to have been based on a version revised by Shakespeare himself that sticks close to the original almost line by line but introduces numerous substitutions of words and phrases, as though Shakespeare copied it over himself and rewrote as he copied. The play derives its plot from Giambattista Giraldi ’s De gli Hecatommithi (1565), which Shakespeare appears to have known in the Italian original; it was available to him in French but had not been translated into English.

essay about othello

The play is set in motion when Othello , a heroic black general in the service of Venice, appoints Cassio and not Iago as his chief lieutenant. Jealous of Othello’s success and envious of Cassio, Iago plots Othello’s downfall by falsely implicating Othello’s wife, Desdemona , and Cassio in a love affair. With the unwitting aid of Emilia, his wife, and the willing help of Roderigo, a fellow malcontent, Iago carries out his plan.

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Making use of a handkerchief belonging to Desdemona and found by Emilia when Othello has unwittingly dropped it, Iago persuades Othello that Desdemona has given the handkerchief to Cassio as a love token . Iago also induces Othello to eavesdrop on a conversation between himself and Cassio that is in fact about Cassio’s mistress, Bianca, but which Othello is led to believe concerns Cassio’s infatuation with Desdemona. These slender “proofs” confirm what Othello has been all too inclined to believe—that, as an older black man, he is no longer attractive to his young white Venetian wife. Overcome with jealousy, Othello kills Desdemona. When he learns from Emilia, too late, that his wife is blameless, he asks to be remembered as one who “loved not wisely but too well” and kills himself.

For a discussion of this play within the context of Shakespeare’s life and works, see William Shakespeare: The tragedies .

Literary Theory and Criticism

Home › Drama Criticism › Analysis of William Shakespeare’s Othello

Analysis of William Shakespeare’s Othello

By NASRULLAH MAMBROL on July 25, 2020 • ( 0 )

Of all Shakespeare’s tragedies . . . Othello is the most painfully exciting and the most terrible. From the moment when the temptation of the hero begins, the reader’s heart and mind are held in a vice, experiencing the extremes of pity and fear, sympathy and repulsion, sickening hope and dreadful expectation. Evil is displayed before him, not indeed with the profusion found in King Lear, but forming, as it were, the soul of a single character, and united with an intellectual superiority so great that he watches its advance fascinated and appalled. He sees it, in itself almost irresistible, aided at every step by fortunate accidents and the innocent mistakes of its victims. He seems to breathe an atmosphere as fateful as that of King Lear , but more confined and oppressive, the darkness not of night but of a close-shut murderous room. His imagination is excited to intense activity, but it is the activity of concentration rather than dilation.

—A. C. Bradley, Shakespearean Tragedy

Between William Shakespeare’s most expansive and philosophical tragedies— Hamlet and King Lear —is Othello, his most constricted and heart-breaking play. Othello is a train wreck that the audience horrifyingly witnesses, helpless to prevent or look away. If Hamlet is a tragedy about youth, and Lear concerns old age, Othello is a family or domestic tragedy of a middle-aged man in which the fate of kingdoms and the cosmos that hangs in the balance in Hamlet and Lear contracts to the private world of a marriage’s destruction. Following his anatomizing of the painfully introspective intellectual Hamlet, Shakespeare, at the height of his ability to probe human nature and to dramatize it in action and language, treats Hamlet’s temperamental opposite—the man of action. Othello is decisive, confident, and secure in his identity, duty, and place in the world. By the end of the play, he has brought down his world around him with the relentless force that made him a great general turned inward, destroying both what he loved best in another and in himself. That such a man should fall so far and so fast gives the play an almost unbearable momentum. That such a man should unravel so completely, ushered by jealousy and hatred into a bestial worldview that cancels any claims of human virtue and self-less devotion, shocks and horrifies. Othello is generally regarded as Shakespeare’s greatest stage play, the closest he would ever come to conforming to the constrained rules of Aristotelian tragedy. The intensity  and  focus  of  Othello   is  unalleviated  by  subplots,  comic  relief,  or  any  mitigation  or  consolation  for  the  deterioration  of  the  “noble  Moor”  and  his  collapse into murder and suicide. At the center of the play’s intrigue is Shakespeare’s most sinister and formidable conceptions of evil in Iago, whose motives and the wellspring of his villainy continue to haunt audiences and critics alike. Indeed, the psychological resonances of the drama, along with its provocative racial and gender themes, have caused Othello, perhaps more than any other of Shakespeare’s plays, to reverberate the loudest with current audiences and commentators. As scholar Edward Pechter has argued, “During the past twenty-five years or so, Othello has become the Shakespearean tragedy of choice, replacing King Lear in the way Lear had earlier replaced Hamlet as the play that speaks most directly and powerfully to current interests.”

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Shakespeare derived his plot from Giraldi Cinthio’s “Tale of the Moor,” in the story collection Hecatommithi (1565), reshaping Cinthio’s sensational tale of jealousy, intrigue, and murder in several key ways. In Cinthio’s story, Alfiero, the scheming ensign, lusts after the Moor’s wife, named Disdemona, and after she spurns his advances, Alfiero seeks vengeance by accusing her of adultery with Cassio,  the  Moor’s  lieutenant.  Alfiero,  like  Iago,  similarly  arouses  the  Moor’s  suspicions by stealing Disdemona’s handkerchief and planting it in Cassio’s bed-room. However, the Moor and Alfiero join forces to kill Disdemona, beating her  to  death  with  a  stocking  filled  with  sand  before  pulling  down  the  ceiling  on her dead body to conceal the crime as an accident. The Moor is eventually captured,  tortured,  and  slain  by  Disdemona’s  relatives,  while  the  ensign  dies  during torture for another crime. What is striking about Shakespeare’s alteration of Cinthio’s grisly tale of murder and villainy is the shift of emphasis to the provocation for the murder, the ennobling of Othello as a figure of great stature and dignity to underscore his self-destruction, and the complication of motive for  the  ensign’s  actions.  Cinthio’s  version  of  Iago  is  conventionally  driven  by  jealousy  of  a  superior  and  lust  for  his  wife.  Iago’s  motivation  is  anything  but  explainable in conventional terms. Dramatically, Shakespeare turns the focus of the play from the shocking crime to its causes and psychic significance, trans-forming Cinthio’s intrigue story of vile murder into one of the greatest dramatic meditations on the nature of love and its destruction.

What  makes  Othello  so  unique  structurally  (and  painful  to  witness)  is  that  it  is  a  tragedy  built  on  a  comic  foundation.  The  first  two  acts  of  the  play  enact  the  standard  pattern  of  Shakespeare’s  romantic  comedies.  The  young Venetian noblewoman, Desdemona, has eloped with the middle-aged Othello, the military commander of the armed forces of Venice. Their union is opposed by Desdemona’s father, Brabantio, and by a rival for Desdemona, Roderigo,  who  in  the  play’s  opening  scenes  are  both  provoked  against Othello  by  Iago.  Desdemona  and  Othello,  therefore,  face  the  usual  challenges of the lovers in a Shakespearean comedy who must contend with the forces of authority, custom, and circumstances allied against their union. The romantic climax comes in the trial scene of act 1, in which Othello success-fully defends himself before the Venetian senate against Brabantio’s charge that  Othello  has  beguiled  his  daughter,  “stol’n  from  me,  and  corrupted  /  By spells and medicines bought of mountebanks.” Calmly and courteously Othello recounts how, despite the differences of age, race, and background, he won Desdemona’s heart by recounting the stories of his exotic life and adventures: “She loved me for the dangers I had passed, / And I loved her that she did pity them.” Wonder at Othello’s heroic adventures and compassion for her sympathy have brought the two opposites together—the young, inexperienced  Venetian  woman  and  the  brave,  experienced  outsider.  Desdemona finally, dramatically appears before the senate to support Othello’s account of their courtship and to balance her obligation to her father and now to her husband based on the claims of love:

My noble father, I do perceive here a divided duty: To you I am bound for life and education; My life and education both do learn me How to respect you; you are the lord of duty; I am hitherto your daughter. But here’s my husband; And so much duty as my mother show’d To you, preferring you before her father, So much I challenge that I may profess Due to the Moor, my lord.

Both Desdemona and Othello defy by their words and gestures the calumnies heaped upon them by Roderigo and Brabantio and vindicate the imperatives of the heart over parental authority and custom. As in a typical Shakespearean comedy, love, tested, triumphs over all opposition.

Vindicated by the duke of Venice and the senate, Othello, accompanied by Desdemona, takes up his military duties in the face of a threatened Turkish invasion, and the lovers are given a triumphal wedding-like procession and marriage ceremony when they disembark on Cyprus. The storm that divides the Venetian fleet also disperses the Turkish threat and clears the way for the lovers’ happy  reunion  and  peaceful  enjoyment  of  their  married  state.  First  Cassio lands to deliver the news of Othello’s marriage and, like the best man, supplies glowing praise for the groom and his bride; next Desdemona, accompanied by Iago and his wife, Emilia, enters but must await news of the fate of Othello’s ship. Finally, Othello arrives giving him the opportunity to renew his marriage vows to Desdemona:

It gives me wonder great as my content To see you here before me. O my soul’s joy, If after every tempest come such calms, May the wind blow till they have wakened death, And let the labouring barque climb hills of seas Olympus-high, and duck again as low As hell’s from heaven. If it were now to die ’Twere now to be most happy, for I fear My soul hath content so absolute That not another comfort like to this Succeeds in unknown fate.

The scene crowns love triumphant. The formerly self-sufficient Othello has now  staked  his  life  to  his  faith  in  Desdemona  and  their  union,  and  she  has  done the same. The fulfillment of the wedding night that should come at the climax of the comedy is relocated to act 2, with the aftermath of the courtship and the wedding now taking  center  stage.  Having triumphantly bested  the  social and natural forces aligned against them, having staked all to the devotion of the other, Desdemona and Othello will not be left to live happily ever after, and the tragedy will grow out of the conditions that made the comedy. Othello, unlike the other Shakespearean comedies, adds three more acts to the romantic drama, shifting from comic affirmation to tragic negation.

Iago  reviews  Othello’s  performance  as  a  lover  by  stating,  “O,  you  are  well tuned now, / But I’ll set down the pegs that make this music.” Iago will now orchestrate discord and disharmony based on a life philosophy totally opposed to the ennobling and selfless concept of love demonstrated by the newlyweds. As Iago asserts to Roderigo, “Virtue? A fig!” Self-interest is all that  matters,  and  love  is  “merely  a lust  of  the  blood  and  a  permission  of  the will.” Othello and Desdemona cannot possibly remain devoted to each other, and, as Iago concludes, “If sanctimony and a frail vow betwixt an err-ing barbarian and a super-subtle Venetian be not too hard for my wits, and all the tribe of hell, thou shalt enjoy her.” The problem of Iago’s motivation to destroy Othello and Desdemona is not that he has too few motives but too many. He offers throughout the play multiple justifi cations for his intrigue: He has been passed over in favor of Cassio; he suspects the Moor and Cassio with his wife, Emilia; he is envious of Cassio’s open nature; and he is desirous of Desdemona himself. No single motive is relied on for long, and the gap  between  cause  and  effect,  between  the  pettiness  of  Iago’s  grudges  and  the monstrousness of his behavior, prompted Samuel Taylor Coleridge in a memorable phrase to characterize Iago’s “motiveless malignity.” There is in Iago a zest for villainy and a delight in destruction, driven more by his hatred and  contempt  for  any  who  oppose  his  conception  of  jungle  law  than  by  a  conventional  naturalistic  explanation  based  on  jealousy  or  envy.  Moreover, Shakespeare, by deliberately clouding the issue of Iago’s motive, finds ever more sinister threats in such a character’s apparently bottomless and unmerited hatred and capacity for evil.

Iago will direct the remainder of the play, constructing Othello’s down-fall out of the flimsiest evidence and playing on the strengths and weaknesses of Othello’s nature and the doubts that erode Othello’s faith in Desdemona. Act 3, one of the wonders of the stage, anatomizes Othello’s psychic descent from  perfect  contentment  in  his  new  wife  to  complete  loathing,  from  a  worldview  in  which  everything  is  as  it  appears  to  one  in  which  nothing  is  as it seems. Iago leads Othello to suspect that love and devotion are shams disguising the basest of animalistic  instincts.  Misled  by  the  handkerchief,  his  love  token  to  Desdemona,  that  Iago  has  planted  in  Cassio’s  room  and  by a partially overheard conversation between Iago and Cassio, Othello, by the end of act 3, forsakes his wife and engages himself in a perverse version of the marriage ceremony of act 2 to Iago. As the pair kneels together, they exchange vows:

Iago: Witness you ever-burning lights above, You elements that clip us round about, Witness that here Iago doth give up The execution of his wit, hands, heart To wronged Othello’s service. Let him command, And to obey shall be in me remorse, What bloody business ever.

Othello: I greet thy love, Not with vain thanks, but with acceptance bounteous, And will upon the instant put thee to’t. Within these three days let me hear thee say That Cassio’s not alive.

Iago: My friend is dead. ’Tis done at your request; but let her live.

Othello: Damn her, lewd minx! O, damn her, damn her! Come, go with me apart. I will withdraw To furnish me with some swift means of death For the fair devil. Now art thou my lieutenant.

Iago: I am your own for ever.

This scene has suggested to some critics that Iago’s true motivation for destroying the marriage of Desdemona and Othello is a repressed homosexual love for Othello. An equal case can be made that Iago here completes his role as Vice, borrowed from the medieval morality plays, sealing the Faustian bargain for Othello’s soul in this mock or black marriage scene.

The play moves relentlessly from here to catastrophe as Othello delivers justice to those he is convinced have wronged him. As he attempts to carry out  his  execution  of  Desdemona,  she  for  the  first  time  realizes  his  charges  against her and his utter delusion. Ignoring her appeals for mercy and avowals of innocence, Othello smothers her moments before Emilia arrives with the proof of  Desdemona’s  innocence  and  Iago’s  villainy.  Othello  must  now  face  the  realization  of  what  he  has  done.  He turns  to  Iago,  who  has  been  brought before him to know the reason for his actions. Iago replies: “Demand me  nothing;  what  you  know,  you  know:  /  From  this  time  forth  I  never  will  speak  word.”  By  Iago’s  exiting  the  stage,  closing  access  to  his  motives,  the  focus remains firmly on Othello, not as Iago’s victim, but as his own. His final speech mixes together the acknowledgment of what he was and what he has become, who he is and how he would like to be remembered:

I have done the state some service, and they know’t. No more of that. I pray you, in your letters, When you shall these unlucky deeds relate, Speak of me as I am. Nothing extenuate, Nor set down aught in malice. Then must you speak Of one that loved not wisely but too well, Of one not easily jealous but, being wrought, Perplexed in the extreme; of one whose hand, Like the base Indian, threw a pearl away Richer than all his tribe.

Consistent with his role as guardian of order in the state, Othello carries out his own execution, by analogy judging his act as a violation reflected by Venice’s savage enemy:

And say besides, that in Aleppo once, Where a malignant and a turban’d Turk Beat a Venetian and tradu’d the state, I took by th’ throat the circumcisèd dog, And smote him—thus.

Othello, likewise, has “tradu’d the state” and has changed from noble and valiant Othello to a beast, with the passion that ennobled him shown as corrosive and demeaning. He carries out his own execution for a violation that threatens social and psychic order. For the onlookers on stage, the final tableau of the dead Desdemona and Othello “poisons sight” and provokes the command to “Let it be hid.” The witnesses on stage cannot compute rationally what has occurred nor why, but the audience has been given a privileged view of the battle between good and evil worked out in the private recesses of a bedroom and a human soul.

Analysis of William Shakespeare’s Plays

Othello Oxford Lecture by Emma Smith

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Othello - Essay Samples And Topic Ideas For Free

Othello is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, exploring themes of jealousy, betrayal, and racism. Essays on “Othello” could delve into character analyses, thematic explorations, and the play’s historical and social context. They might analyze the play’s treatment of race and the character of Othello as a tragic hero. Discussions could also explore the play’s modern-day relevance, adaptations, and its reflection of, or comment on, the societal norms and racial attitudes of both Shakespeare’s time and today. A substantial compilation of free essay instances related to Othello you can find at PapersOwl Website. You can use our samples for inspiration to write your own essay, research paper, or just to explore a new topic for yourself.

Role and Character of Iago in Othello

In Othello by William Shakespeare, Iago a power hungry ancient drives the plot through his cruel and manipulative ways. In the play Othello and Desdemona are happily married, Othello gives Cassio a promotion to lieutenant, he chooses Cassio over Iago and gives Iago a more trusted and honorable job. Through manipulation Iago is able to bring the downfall of every character he pleases. Iago uses subtle cruelty to manipulate other characters into doing heinous acts which may of otherwise seemed […]

Women’s Role in Othello

Othello presents us with three female leads; Desdemona, Emilia, and Bianca. The way the play is worded implies woman as somewhat slanderous and adulterous and yet in the beginning depicts women mostly as virtuous. All these characters are implied to be whores through the play. During Act 2, Scene 2, Othello’s wife is being referred to as “a maid that paragons description and wild fame” and that “she excels the quirks of blazoning pens”. This states that she is so […]

Iago: the Main Antagonist

In the play Othello by William Shakespeare, the main antagonist Iago guides the audience through his path of deception to justify his revenge towards Othello. As a result of Iago being humiliated and disenfranchised by Othello, he takes from Othello what he values most; the security he feels in Desdemona's untainted love and commitment. Iago justifies his action though: his jealously of Cassio being appointed as lieutenant instead of him, the misconception he has that Othello had sex with his […]

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Misogyny and Violence in Othello

William Shakespeare's play “Othello” makes it clear that women have been vulnerable to male slander and assault for ages. Othello is a story of domestic abuse and male violence. Male violence remains a tragedy for many girls and women. Many victims of intimate partner violence will recognize their experiences in this play. The terrifying transformation of a beloved into an aggressor, the closing off of escape routes, the urgent assertion of fidelity. The #MeToo movement opens up a new way […]

Othello Manipulation Essay

Manipulation is all around us; we frequently do not notice it because it is hidden very well. Humans manipulate others in order to get their requests, they expect them to reveal their flaws to use it against them. In Othello, Iago demonstrates he is the master of manipulation over all characters who had formerly trusted and confined him. Shakespeare’s Iago effectively showcases how humans can use others weaknesses to serve their demands which causes them to expose their faults. Shakespeare […]

Shakespeare: Obedience and Powerless in Women

In Hamlet and Othello, Shakespeare criticizes the feminine issues that were present in his time, bringing awareness to the standard roles and ideal expectations of women by characterizing them in a space of being obedient and powerless. As women are portrayed as having ideal feminine values such as chastity and passiveness, the frailty of women is also brought to the surface. On the other hand, Shakespeare also seems to be suggesting that internal destruction is generated in the sense that […]

Theme of Jealousy in Iago, Roderigo, and Othello’s Characters

Shakespeare explores the theme of jealousy in Othello through Iago,Roderigo, and Othello. Iago starts off the jealousy theme in Othello when he gets jealous of Cassio. Othello puts Cassio as his 2nd in command while he signed Iago to be his ensign which means third in command. Iago then goes crazy and starts plotting to ruin Othello’s marriage and get Cassio fired. He then starts putting words in Othello’s head and starts to make him question everything. “O, beware, my […]

Racism and Racial Prejudice in Othello

In the book, Othello, by William Shakespeare, we see a big impact of racism and racial prejudice. Othello shows a lot of this and how it gets in the way by restraining love in society. He is a black man who is also a great and successful war soldier. He dedicates himself to serve society's goals by fighting for his country. Even though, Othello is a Moor, he is the most hardworking and the most respected. When it comes to […]

Imbalance of Power between Men and Women

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Deaths of Characters in Othello

How many people die on Othello? Knowing Shakespeare, he kills off a majority of his characters. In Othello alone, eighty-five point seven percent of the roles die in the end. Whether killed by a sword or strangled out of jealousy, there were no justified reasonings for the deaths. Emilia, Desdemona, and Othello all fall blind to the truth and die because of it. Desdemona, one of Shakespeare's more naive and innocent character, was killed by her own husband in the […]

Reasons of Othello’s Tragedy

Othello's tragedy is a product of not just Iago, but himself. Though Iago may appear to be the primary cause of Othello's downfall, based on how manipulative, evil, and deceptive Iago was throughout the story. It can also be said, after having read the story, Othello's own insecurities were the product of his own self demise. A combination of putting trust into Iago due to male pride, his lack of confidence of Desdemona and the perception of infidelity and racial […]

Was Iago a Real Villain?

The Considering Iago as a "Villain" in  the play Othello, the character Iago plays a main role in the destruction of Othello and all of those around him. People could say that Iago's actions are simply a scheming liar and that he is a purely evil character. Others say Iago's talent for understanding and manipulating the desires of those around him that makes him both a powerful and a compelling figure that represent some greater force. We find soon in […]

Description of Othello’s Character

Othello is the main character in the play Othello by William Shakespeare. He is a well-respected African general in the Venice army and is happily married to Desdemona, a white woman. Othello being African already makes him an outsider and highlights racism in Venice. Throughout this play, there are slurs that have been used to describe Othello, "Moor, is an example of one. Even though Shakespeare did not make race the main theme in the play it is a huge […]

Iago’s Jealousy in Othello

William Shakespeare is prolific for his plays of love, revenge, deceit and jealousy. Among his most celebrated plays is the tragedy Othello, in which the themes of jealousy and deceit play a central role. In Othello, one of his most recognized tragedies was revolving around the central theme of jealousy and deceit. The themes of jealousy and deceit go with love. Love consumes all those who take part in it and in Othello’s case, his love for Desdemona has blinded […]

Literary Devices Used Othello

In Othello by William Shakespeare, Othello considers and thinks about all his actions before going through with them. By analyzing his soliloquies, we can understand his thoughts, and his reasons behind his actions. In act 5 scene 2 the first soliloquy Othello contemplated him killing his wife. This monologue gives you an inside scoop of Othello's thinking process because he doesn't want to kill his wife but feels as if he needs to. Othello makes choices that he might not […]

Lies, Revenge and Betrayal in Othello

Lies are extremely common in our society today, with millions of people masking their true intentions. In Shakespeare's play titled Othello, one of the characters, Iago, is no different and in fact the same as those deceptive individuals in society. Behind his act as a trustworthy friend, Iago is a manipulative and deceptive character creating disorder and causing many mishaps to occur. Iago uses many acts of manipulation to undermine every single character's weaknesses to get exactly what he wants, […]

Insanity Within the Plays of William Shakespeare

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Othello as an Ideal Representation of the Tragic Hero

William Shakespeare's Othello is a clear representation of the downfall of a tragic hero. Set in Venice and Cyprus during the 16th century, Othello, a moor, deals with the manipulative actions of a general of the Venetian army, Iago. Due to losing his desired position of being Othello's lieutenant to another solider Cassio, he plots is revenge in deviousness. Othello becomes persuaded by Iago 's rumors, framing, and miscommunications, causing him to kill Desdemona, his believed unfaithful wife. In realization […]

Sexism in Shakespeare’s Play Othello

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Power and Control in Othello

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With Love, Violence and Vengeance

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Importance of Literary Devices in Othello

This passage highlights Iago's character through the use of diction, imagery, irony, and other instances of figurative language. In this exchange, Iago continues to inconspicuously accuse Desdemona of being unfaithful to Othello and accuse Cassio of being disloyal to his superiors. He inserts various remarks at different times to execute this plan. At the end of this echange, Iago has effectively created an unfaithful and untruthful image of Cassio and Desdemona, and planted a seed of jealousy and doubt in […]

A Short Review of the Othello Play

In Act 1 of Othello, we are introduced to Iago and Roderigo. Iago is upset because Othello gave Cassio the position Iago wanted. Iago felt Cassio was not qualified for the position because he had never been in actual situations unlike Iago. The true colors of Iago are shown because this is the first time the audience has been exposed to the deceitful side of Iago. He talks about only following Othello just so he can turn his back on […]

My Attitude to Othello and Iago

Iago the antagonist within Othello written by William Shakespeare. I am so engaged with Iago because I want to secretly be like him. To get away with all the destruction he exerts. I get bored of the good guys always succeeding. He embodies both attraction and repulsion. The character of dramatic irony gropes us into his story and makes me agree that the most effective villain is one that both attracts and repels, which is why a villain is a […]

Characters in the Play Othello

The play Othello written by Shakespeare in the 1600s takes place in Venice, and Cyprus an island in the Mediterranean Sea. Shakespeare’s tale focuses on love, jealousy, and betrayal. Main characters being; Iago, Othello, Desdemona, Cassio, Bianca, and others. While some of these main characters go through some minor and big changes throughout the play. The character Othello undergoes many changes from start to finish, although some of the other characters in this play have a part in the way […]

A True Reason of Othello Demise

The novel Othello is about a General man named Othello and his wife Desdemona, just trying to be a normal couple, but problems occur when Iago starts to stir things up and starts to put lies in Othello's head. Iago starts to stir things up because Iago wanted to get the rank as lieutenant but Othello thought Cassio deserved it more and gave it to him so Iago wants revenge and wants to mess up Othello's relationship with Desdemona. Iago […]

Racism in Othello

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Othello as an Aristotelean Tragedy

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Prominent Theme in Shakespeare’s Othello

Within the play "Othello, written by William Shakespeare, the main and prominent theme of the play concerns with Othello's primary flaw, his jealousy. Thus, it is evident within the play the term "The Green-Eyed Monster whom Iago refers as jealousy suggests why The role of jealousy within Othello is focused from his delusional jealousy described as "Othello Syndrome, how his jealousy can resonate with readers and the connection with real-life marriages. In Shakespeare's Othello, he introduces the term of the […]

Originally published :1905
Author :William Shakespeare
Adapted from :Un Capitano Moro
Characters :Iago, Othello, Desdemona, Cassio, Roderigo, Brabantio
Location :Venice sparknotes.com

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How To Write an Essay About Othello

Understanding the play 'othello'.

To write an effective essay about Shakespeare's 'Othello,' it's crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of the play. 'Othello' is a tragedy that explores themes such as jealousy, love, betrayal, and racism. Start by familiarizing yourself with the plot, characters, and Shakespeare's language. It's important to understand the historical and cultural context in which Shakespeare wrote the play. Research the Elizabethan era's attitudes towards race and gender, as these are central themes in 'Othello.' Understanding the play's context and themes will provide a solid foundation for your essay.

Formulating a Thesis Statement

Your essay should be driven by a clear, concise thesis statement. This statement should offer a unique perspective on 'Othello.' You might choose to focus on a character analysis of Othello or Iago, explore the theme of jealousy, or examine the play's treatment of race and ethnicity. Whatever focus you choose, your thesis should guide your analysis and provide a central argument for your essay.

Gathering Evidence from the Play

Once you have your thesis, gather evidence from the play to support your argument. This involves closely reading the text to find relevant quotes, dialogues, and scenes. For example, if you're discussing the theme of betrayal, identify instances in the play where betrayal is evident and examine the consequences of these actions. This evidence will form the backbone of your essay and strengthen your arguments.

Analyzing Shakespeare's Techniques

In your essay, analyze how Shakespeare uses various techniques to convey themes and develop characters. This might include his use of language, imagery, symbolism, and dramatic structure. For instance, explore how Shakespeare uses irony or foreshadowing to enhance the tragic elements of the story. Your analysis should provide insight into how Shakespeare's techniques contribute to the overall meaning and impact of 'Othello.'

Concluding the Essay

Conclude your essay by summarizing the main points of your analysis and restating your thesis. Your conclusion should tie together your analysis and reinforce your overall argument. It's also an opportunity to reflect on the broader significance of 'Othello' in terms of its relevance to contemporary audiences or its place in Shakespeare's body of work.

Reviewing and Refining Your Essay

After writing your essay, review and refine it for clarity and coherence. Check for grammatical and spelling errors, and ensure that your essay flows logically from one point to the next. Consider seeking feedback from peers or instructors to further improve your essay. A well-written essay on 'Othello' should not only demonstrate your understanding of the play but also your ability to engage critically with Shakespeare's work.

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In Venice, at the start of Othello , the soldier Iago announces his hatred for his commander, Othello, a Moor. Othello has promoted Cassio, not Iago, to be his lieutenant.

Iago crudely informs Brabantio, Desdemona’s father, that Othello and Desdemona have eloped. Before the Venetian Senate, Brabantio accuses Othello of bewitching Desdemona. The Senators wish to send Othello to Cyprus, which is under threat from Turkey. They bring Desdemona before them. She tells of her love for Othello, and the marriage stands. The Senate agrees to let her join Othello in Cyprus.

In Cyprus, Iago continues to plot against Othello and Cassio. He lures Cassio into a drunken fight, for which Cassio loses his new rank; Cassio, at Iago’s urging, then begs Desdemona to intervene. Iago uses this and other ploys—misinterpreted conversations, insinuations, and a lost handkerchief—to convince Othello that Desdemona and Cassio are lovers. Othello goes mad with jealousy and later smothers Desdemona on their marriage bed, only to learn of Iago’s treachery. He then kills himself.

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Essays About Othello: Top 5 Great Examples and 6 Prompts

Othello is regarded as one of the most significant works of literature from the Elizabethan Period; Here are writing prompts on essays about Othello . 

Othello (1603) is a tragic tale of love, war, jealousy, and revenge. Set in the 1500s during the Ottoman-Venetian War, the play follows General Othello, his wife Desdemona, and Iago, one of his soldiers. Lago is bitter after being overlooked for a promotion ; he takes his revenge on his general, Othello, by deceiving him into thinking that his wife Desdemona has been unfaithful. This leads Othello to kill her, then ultimately kill himself. 

The themes that Othello embodies are enduring and relatable, as we still see the issues that the play’s characters experience. As a result, the story has been adapted countless times and is considered one of the greatest plays of all time. 

To write insightful essays about Othello , you can start by reading these examples. 

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1. Enduring Value – Othello by Brett Horton

2. othello and reputation by joe richards, 3. othello gullible by ross vasquez.

  • 4.  Why Is Othello Black? By Isaac Butler
  • 5. ​​A Reflection on Shakespeare’s Othello by Myers McKinney

1. Why Is Othello A Classic

2. what is othello’s tragic flaw, 3. othello and un capitano moro, 4. racial prejudice in othello, 5. jealousy in othello, 6. why is othello timeless.

“Shakespeare’s portrayal of Othello as being an outsider, and being ‘othered’ by the Venetian society due to his different race, reflects traditional Elizabethan values and principles concerning racial prejudice and inequality. These repeating problems, of social intolerance and racial bias are common concerns in our modern society. Shakespeare’s expresses the nature of villainy through his antagonist, ago, as he explores problems of betrayal and deceit.”

Horton writes about Othello ’s value due to its profound exploration of intrinsic human traits. In particular, prejudice is still prevalent, and Horton briefly explains how the play displays this theme. In conjunction, he writes about how in contrast with the prejudice against his complexion, Othello is all too trusting, which does not allow him to see Iago’s betrayal. 

“Without Iago’s honest reputation, he would have never been able to convince Othello that Desdemona was committing adultery. In addition Cassio’s diminished reputation fuelled Iago’s lie about Desdemona, making it easier for Othello to believe lago. Finally, Othello’s high rank in the military restricted him from confronting Desdemona about the possibility of an affair, which prevents the truth from emerging.”

In his essay, Richards discusses the effects of the characters ’ reputations on the play’s events. Iago uses his reputation as an honest, virtuous soldier to make his plan successful, manipulating the other characters to serve his needs. On the other hand, Othello’s reputation prevents him from confronting Desdemona about a supposed affair, which was unacceptable during this time. 

“He trusts Iago too much and totally relies on ago therefore making him really vulnerable to Iago’s evilish schemes. Othello’s gullibility causes him to be jealous. He let’s his jealousy take over, he looses control of himself and acts on his jealous emotions, he let’s his jealousy clutter his mind and good judgment.”

Vasquez analyzes the character of Othello and focuses on a key trait that allows the play to transpire as it does: his gullibility. He is far too trusting and believes his “loyal” soldiers, such as Iago, without any doubt. This, in turn, leads him to listen to Iago’s lies, making him jealous and turning him against his wife. Vasquez’s message is clear, concise, and logical: Othello is greatly flawed, and his flaw leads to his unfortunate end. 

Looking for more? You might also be interested in these essays about Hamlet .

4.   Why Is Othello Black? By Isaac Butler

“Othello could be talking about Desdemona as the abused Venetian or, according to Sisneros, ‘he could be even referring to himself. He killed the good part of himself, thus ‘traducing’ the Venetian state.’ Either way, it’s hard to escape the sense that Othello is explicitly saying he has ‘turned Turk’ by the end of the play. It could also be that Othello’s blackness provided Shakespeare a new way to explore questions that consumed his playwriting at this time in his career: What is identity, and how is it formed? What is a man? What is an Englishman?”

Butler puts Othello’s race at the forefront of this essay, in which he speculates on any hidden meanings behind Othello’s dark complexion. In particular, he presents a theory by which the character’s blackness represents his true essence; as the play goes on, Othello’s mannerisms change to more stereotypically “uncivilized” behaviors. Shakespeare may have used Othello’s character to reflect many people’s belief at the time that black converts to Christianity could not completely change.  

5. ​​ A Reflection on Shakespeare’s Othello by Myers McKinney

“Ensnared in Iago’s half-truths and innuendos, Othello lives in a false world instead of the true one. By failing to question Iago and his motives, Othello instead questions Desdemona and Cassio and their motives. To use the phrase of the revolutionary, Friedrich Engels, we could say that Othello falls into a state of ‘false consciousness’ because of the counsel of Iago. Like Adam and Eve in the garden, Othello allowed what Van Til called a ‘false ideal of knowledge’ to become ultimate and authoritative in his interpretation of reality.”

As its title suggests, McKinney’s essay reflects on Othello’s fall from a respected military general to a disgraced murderer. Iago’s deception in the form of “half-truths” combined with Othello’s willingness to believe and trust his subordinates allows the story to play out as it does. McKinney discusses the importance of sometimes questioning things rather than always taking them at face value. 

Top 6 Writing Prompts on Essays About Othello

Essays About Othello: Why is Othello a classic?

Based on your understanding of the story , write about the importance of the play and why others should at least look into reading them. Briefly discuss the plot, characters , and themes , and try to convince others to read Othello . Of course, this topic would be much more suitable if you have already read or watched the play. In this essay, you can discuss the main themes of the play and why it had such an impact on society.

As a tragedy, Othello’s eponymous protagonist has a central flaw in his character that leads to his downfall. While a few flaws can be identified, which do you believe is the main issue that allows the story to transpire as it does? First, identify it, discuss it and give examples of instances in which it is seen. Finally, analyze how these situations lead to Othello’s downfall and discuss if this could have been prevented. 

As with many of Shakespeare’s other dramas, Othello is based on earlier literature, in this case, Cinthio’s short story Un Capitano Moro . Read the source text and compare and contrast it with Shakespeare’s version. Discuss how these two written works are similar and how they are different. Compare the main themes of each and decide whether or not you believe these two texts are similar.  

In your essay, you can discuss the prevalent theme of race, and racial prejudice, to be exact. Ask yourself: does Othello’s race impact the play? Delve into this question for an interesting argumentative essay. Discuss the hypotheticals, such as: would the story’s events play out differently if he were like the other characters ? Remember the period in which the characters lived- times were very different back then. Be sure to cite text evidence to support your arguments.

Another central theme of Othello is jealousy. In your essay, discuss how jealousy is shown throughout the play. You can highlight this theme by quoting dialogue that shows a jealous tone in a character’s voice or actions. In this essay, make sure to include multiple quotations from the play to provide supporting details.  

You might also enjoy these essays about To Kill A Mockingbird and essays about Romeo And Juliet .

The story of Othello has been adapted and referenced repeatedly, whether in film, television, music, art, or even games. What is it about the play that makes other creators and artists keep coming back to it? Why is it still performed today? You can include some aspects of the play that make it “relatable” to us humans, even in such a different time.  

Check out our guide packed full of transition words for essays .

If you’re still stuck, check out our available resource of essay writing topics .

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Theme Analysis . Read our .

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Throughout the play, various male figures seek to assert and protect their manhood and their honor. Based on the Duke's regard for him in 1.3, it is clear that Othello has attained political power through his military might. The subplot in which Iago gets Cassio drunk and causes him to humiliate himself, also indicates the importance of "reputation, reputation, reputation." In fact, Cassio asserts that reputation is all that makes you human ("I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial" [2.3.252-3]). Iago asserts—however genuinely or disingenuously—that reputation is more valuable than anything in the world: "good name in man and woman [...] is the immediate jewel of their souls" (3.3.156).

Though military exploits are one way for men to build their honor, when not in war the primary means by which men define their honor is their ability to command the faithfulness of their women. In 1.1, Iago and Roderigo call Brabantio's honor into question because he hasn't been able to control the romantic or sexual impulses of his daughter, Desdemona. Later, Iago drives Othello to question his own manhood—indeed, his very humanity—by making him doubt whether he has power over his wife. In despair over his suspicions about his wife's faithfulness, Othello laments of himself: "A horned man's a monster and a beast" (4.2.62). That is, in his view, to lose control of the woman in his life is to lose everything that makes him human. In other words, without his honor, he sees himself in the same terms that the prejudiced characters see him: as an animal.

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The Big List of Essay Topics for High School (120+ Ideas!)

Ideas to inspire every young writer!

What one class should all high schools students be required to take and pass in order to graduate?

High school students generally do a lot of writing, learning to use language clearly, concisely, and persuasively. When it’s time to choose an essay topic, though, it’s easy to come up blank. If that’s the case, check out this huge round-up of essay topics for high school. You’ll find choices for every subject and writing style.

  • Argumentative Essay Topics
  • Cause-and-Effect Essay Topics
  • Compare-Contrast Essay Topics
  • Descriptive Essay Topics
  • Expository and Informative Essay Topics
  • Humorous Essay Topics

Literary Essay Topics

  • Narrative and Personal Essay Topics
  • Personal Essay Topics
  • Persuasive Essay Topics

Research Essay Topics

Argumentative essay topics for high school.

When writing an argumentative essay, remember to do the research and lay out the facts clearly. Your goal is not necessarily to persuade someone to agree with you, but to encourage your reader to accept your point of view as valid. Here are some possible argumentative topics to try. ( Here are 100 more compelling argumentative essay topics. )

  • The most important challenge our country is currently facing is … (e.g., immigration, gun control, economy)
  • The government should provide free internet access for every citizen.
  • All drugs should be legalized, regulated, and taxed.
  • Vaping is less harmful than smoking tobacco.
  • The best country in the world is …
  • Parents should be punished for their minor children’s crimes.
  • Should all students have the ability to attend college for free?
  • Should physical education be part of the standard high school curriculum?

Should physical education be part of the standard high school curriculum?

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  • Schools should require recommended vaccines for all students, with very limited exceptions.
  • Is it acceptable to use animals for experiments and research?
  • Does social media do more harm than good?
  • Capital punishment does/does not deter crime.
  • What one class should all high schools students be required to take and pass in order to graduate?
  • Do we really learn anything from history, or does it just repeat itself over and over?
  • Are men and women treated equally?

Cause-and-Effect Essay Topics for High School

A cause-and-effect essay is a type of argumentative essay. Your goal is to show how one specific thing directly influences another specific thing. You’ll likely need to do some research to make your point. Here are some ideas for cause-and-effect essays. ( Get a big list of 100 cause-and-effect essay topics here. )

  • Humans are causing accelerated climate change.
  • Fast-food restaurants have made human health worse over the decades.
  • What caused World War II? (Choose any conflict for this one.)
  • Describe the effects social media has on young adults.

Describe the effects social media has on young adults.

  • How does playing sports affect people?
  • What are the effects of loving to read?
  • Being an only/oldest/youngest/middle child makes you …
  • What effect does violence in movies or video games have on kids?
  • Traveling to new places opens people’s minds to new ideas.
  • Racism is caused by …

Compare-Contrast Essay Topics for High School

As the name indicates, in compare-and-contrast essays, writers show the similarities and differences between two things. They combine descriptive writing with analysis, making connections and showing dissimilarities. The following ideas work well for compare-contrast essays. ( Find 80+ compare-contrast essay topics for all ages here. )

  • Public and private schools
  • Capitalism vs. communism
  • Monarchy or democracy
  • Dogs vs. cats as pets

Dogs vs. cats as pets

  • Paper books or e-books
  • Two political candidates in a current race
  • Going to college vs. starting work full-time
  • Working your way through college as you go or taking out student loans
  • iPhone or Android
  • Instagram vs. Twitter (or choose any other two social media platforms)

Descriptive Essay Topics for High School

Bring on the adjectives! Descriptive writing is all about creating a rich picture for the reader. Take readers on a journey to far-off places, help them understand an experience, or introduce them to a new person. Remember: Show, don’t tell. These topics make excellent descriptive essays.

  • Who is the funniest person you know?
  • What is your happiest memory?
  • Tell about the most inspirational person in your life.
  • Write about your favorite place.
  • When you were little, what was your favorite thing to do?
  • Choose a piece of art or music and explain how it makes you feel.
  • What is your earliest memory?

What is your earliest memory?

  • What’s the best/worst vacation you’ve ever taken?
  • Describe your favorite pet.
  • What is the most important item in the world to you?
  • Give a tour of your bedroom (or another favorite room in your home).
  • Describe yourself to someone who has never met you.
  • Lay out your perfect day from start to finish.
  • Explain what it’s like to move to a new town or start a new school.
  • Tell what it would be like to live on the moon.

Expository and Informative Essay Topics for High School

Expository essays set out clear explanations of a particular topic. You might be defining a word or phrase or explaining how something works. Expository or informative essays are based on facts, and while you might explore different points of view, you won’t necessarily say which one is “better” or “right.” Remember: Expository essays educate the reader. Here are some expository and informative essay topics to explore. ( See 70+ expository and informative essay topics here. )

  • What makes a good leader?
  • Explain why a given school subject (math, history, science, etc.) is important for students to learn.
  • What is the “glass ceiling” and how does it affect society?
  • Describe how the internet changed the world.
  • What does it mean to be a good teacher?

What does it mean to be a good teacher?

  • Explain how we could colonize the moon or another planet.
  • Discuss why mental health is just as important as physical health.
  • Describe a healthy lifestyle for a teenager.
  • Choose an American president and explain how their time in office affected the country.
  • What does “financial responsibility” mean?

Humorous Essay Topics for High School

Humorous essays can take on any form, like narrative, persuasive, or expository. You might employ sarcasm or satire, or simply tell a story about a funny person or event. Even though these essay topics are lighthearted, they still take some skill to tackle well. Give these ideas a try.

  • What would happen if cats (or any other animal) ruled the world?
  • What do newborn babies wish their parents knew?
  • Explain the best ways to be annoying on social media.
  • Invent a wacky new sport, explain the rules, and describe a game or match.

Explain why it's important to eat dessert first.

  • Imagine a discussion between two historic figures from very different times, like Cleopatra and Queen Elizabeth I.
  • Retell a familiar story in tweets or other social media posts.
  • Describe present-day Earth from an alien’s point of view.
  • Choose a fictional character and explain why they should be the next president.
  • Describe a day when kids are in charge of everything, at school and at home.

Literary essays analyze a piece of writing, like a book or a play. In high school, students usually write literary essays about the works they study in class. These literary essay topic ideas focus on books students often read in high school, but many of them can be tweaked to fit other works as well.

  • Discuss the portrayal of women in Shakespeare’s Othello .
  • Explore the symbolism used in The Scarlet Letter .
  • Explain the importance of dreams in Of Mice and Men .
  • Compare and contrast the romantic relationships in Pride and Prejudice .

Analyze the role of the witches in Macbeth.

  • Dissect the allegory of Animal Farm and its relation to contemporary events.
  • Interpret the author’s take on society and class structure in The Great Gatsby .
  • Explore the relationship between Hamlet and Ophelia.
  • Discuss whether Shakespeare’s portrayal of young love in Romeo and Juliet is accurate.
  • Explain the imagery used in Beowulf .

Narrative and Personal Essay Topics for High School

Think of a narrative essay like telling a story. Use some of the same techniques that you would for a descriptive essay, but be sure you have a beginning, middle, and end. A narrative essay doesn’t necessarily need to be personal, but they often are. Take inspiration from these narrative and personal essay topics.

  • Describe a performance or sporting event you took part in.
  • Explain the process of cooking and eating your favorite meal.
  • Write about meeting your best friend for the first time and how your relationship developed.
  • Tell about learning to ride a bike or drive a car.
  • Describe a time in your life when you’ve been scared.

Write about a time when you or someone you know displayed courage.

  • Share the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you.
  • Tell about a time when you overcame a big challenge.
  • Tell the story of how you learned an important life lesson.
  • Describe a time when you or someone you know experienced prejudice or oppression.
  • Explain a family tradition, how it developed, and its importance today.
  • What is your favorite holiday? How does your family celebrate it?
  • Retell a familiar story from the point of view of a different character.
  • Describe a time when you had to make a difficult decision.
  • Tell about your proudest moment.

Persuasive Essay Topics for High School

Persuasive essays are similar to argumentative , but they rely less on facts and more on emotion to sway the reader. It’s important to know your audience, so you can anticipate any counterarguments they might make and try to overcome them. Try these topics to persuade someone to come around to your point of view. ( Discover 60 more intriguing persuasive essay topics here. )

  • Do you think homework should be required, optional, or not given at all?
  • Everyone should be vegetarian or vegan.
  • What animal makes the best pet?
  • Visit an animal shelter, choose an animal that needs a home, and write an essay persuading someone to adopt that animal.
  • Who is the world’s best athlete, present or past?
  • Should little kids be allowed to play competitive sports?
  • Are professional athletes/musicians/actors overpaid?
  • The best music genre is …

What is one book that everyone should be required to read?

  • Is democracy the best form of government?
  • Is capitalism the best form of economy?
  • Students should/should not be able to use their phones during the school day.
  • Should schools have dress codes?
  • If I could change one school rule, it would be …
  • Is year-round school a good idea?

A research essay is a classic high school assignment. These papers require deep research into primary source documents, with lots of supporting facts and evidence that’s properly cited. Research essays can be in any of the styles shown above. Here are some possible topics, across a variety of subjects.

  • Which country’s style of government is best for the people who live there?
  • Choose a country and analyze its development from founding to present day.
  • Describe the causes and effects of a specific war.
  • Formulate an ideal economic plan for our country.
  • What scientific discovery has had the biggest impact on life today?

Tell the story of the development of artificial intelligence so far, and describe its impacts along the way.

  • Analyze the way mental health is viewed and treated in this country.
  • Explore the ways systemic racism impacts people in all walks of life.
  • Defend the importance of teaching music and the arts in public schools.
  • Choose one animal from the endangered species list, and propose a realistic plan to protect it.

What are some of your favorite essay topics for high school? Come share your prompts on the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook .

Plus, check out the ultimate guide to student writing contests .

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  1. Shakespeare's Othello: Essay Samples

    Comparison and Contrast of the Driving Force of Plot in Medea by Euripides, Othello by William Shakespeare, and the Epic of Gilgamesh. Genre: Essay. Words: 568. Focused on: Heroism in Medea by Euripides, Othello by William Shakespeare, and The Epic of Gilgamesh. Characters mentioned: Othello, Iago, Brabantio, Roderigo.

  2. Shakespeare's Othello: A+ Student Essay Examples by

    Essay grade: Good. 1 page / 731 words. In Shakespeare's Othello, Iago plots Othello's destruction when he is passed over for a promotion. Iago tells Othello that Desdemona has been unfaithful to him and provides circumstantial evidence for this. Othello becomes full of anger and jealousy and kills Desdemona.

  3. Shakespeare's Othello essay, summary, quotes and character analysis

    Timeline. Master Shakespeare's Othello using Absolute Shakespeare's Othello essay, plot summary, quotes and characters study guides. Plot Summary: A quick review of the plot of Othello including every important action in the play. An ideal introduction before reading the original text. Commentary: Detailed description of each act with ...

  4. Othello

    Laurence Fishburne and Kenneth Brannagh as Othello and Iago in Oliver Parker's 1995 ' Othello' Act 1. Iago firstly enlists Roderigo, Desdemona's rejected lover, to inform Brabantio about Desdemona's elopement to Othello, urging an enraged Brabantio to appeal to the Duke of Venice to have Othello punished for seducing Desdemona by witchcraft.

  5. A Summary and Analysis of William Shakespeare's Othello

    Realising he has thrown away the life of an innocent woman he loved dearly, Othello kills himself publicly, Cassio is made governor of Cyprus, and Iago is taken off for punishment. Othello: analysis. Othello is a play about sexual jealousy, and how one man can convince another man, who loves his wife dearly, that she has been unfaithful to him ...

  6. Othello

    Othello, tragedy in five acts by William Shakespeare, written in 1603-04 and published in 1622 in a quarto edition from a transcript of an authorial manuscript.The text published in the First Folio of 1623 seems to have been based on a version revised by Shakespeare himself that sticks close to the original almost line by line but introduces numerous substitutions of words and phrases, as ...

  7. Analysis of William Shakespeare's Othello

    Analysis of William Shakespeare's Othello By NASRULLAH MAMBROL on July 25, 2020 • ( 0). Of all Shakespeare's tragedies . . . Othello is the most painfully exciting and the most terrible. From the moment when the temptation of the hero begins, the reader's heart and mind are held in a vice, experiencing the extremes of pity and fear, sympathy and repulsion, sickening hope and dreadful ...

  8. Othello Suggested Essay Topics

    Suggested Essay Topics. PDF Cite Share. Act I, Scenes 1-3. 1. Explain how Iago uses his power of persuasion with Roderigo, Brabantio, and Othello to create his scheme to undo the Moor. 2. Contrast ...

  9. Othello Free Essay Examples And Topic Ideas

    37 essay samples found. Othello is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, exploring themes of jealousy, betrayal, and racism. Essays on "Othello" could delve into character analyses, thematic explorations, and the play's historical and social context. They might analyze the play's treatment of race and the character of Othello as a tragic hero.

  10. Othello Critical Essays

    Topic #3. Othello is a play in which many contrasts affect the characters' ability to discern the difference between reality and illusion. Identify and trace the contrasts between black and ...

  11. Essays and articles on Shakespeare's Othello

    The Moral Enigma of Shakespeare's Othello. Othello as Tragic Hero. Iago's Motives: The Relationship Between Othello and Iago. Shakespeare and Race: The Relationship Between Othello and Desdemona. Stage History of Othello. The Problem of Time in Othello. _____. Related Articles. Othello: Plot Summary.

  12. Othello

    Othello strikes Desdemona in Lodovico's presence, then rudely dismisses her, leaving in a jealous rage. Lodovico expresses his astonishment at the change in Othello. Act 4, scene 2 Othello questions Emilia about Cassio and Desdemona's relationship, acting as if Emilia is the mistress of a brothel and Desdemona one of her prostitutes ...

  13. Essays About Othello: Top 5 Great Examples and 6 Prompts

    Othello is regarded as one of the most significant works of literature from the Elizabethan Period; Here are writing prompts on essays about Othello.. Othello (1603) is a tragic tale of love, war, jealousy, and revenge. Set in the 1500s during the Ottoman-Venetian War, the play follows General Othello, his wife Desdemona, and Iago, one of his soldiers.

  14. Manhood and Honor Theme in Othello

    Below you will find the important quotes in Othello related to the theme of Manhood and Honor. Act 1, scene 3 Quotes. "Rude am I in my speech, And little bless'd with the soft phrase of peace: For since these arms of mine had seven years' pith, Till now some nine moons wasted, they have used.

  15. 120+ Fascinating Essay Topics for High School Students

    These literary essay topic ideas focus on books students often read in high school, but many of them can be tweaked to fit other works as well. Discuss the portrayal of women in Shakespeare's Othello. Explore the symbolism used in The Scarlet Letter. Explain the importance of dreams in Of Mice and Men.