Shakespeare’s Othello in Modern Reading essay

Shakespeare wrote his Othello more than 400 years ago. Despite the settings and characters seem distanced for modern people, there are themes and symbols from the play, which appeal to the contemporary audience. I think that Othello can be called a collection of human vices, which are universal for all epochs and nations. Jealousy, greed, anger, manipulation and betray ”“ these are only few of vices, which control the lives of the main characters of the play.

Irony makes an essential part of this play. There are three different type of irony in this play. They are situational, verbal and dramatic ones. Irony has different functions in this play. It creates suspense, makes the story more attractive to the readers and entertains them. For example Cassio, whom Iago wanted to die, becomes the last person who stays alive and even gets a higher position. Another irony lies in the fact that despite all effort, Iago is never able to achieve high position despite enormous effort he puts for fulfilling this goal. Same irony can be traced nowadays, when people, who find themselves in the situations, described by Shakespeare, behave same like the characters of the play, written over 400 years ago.

Othello the Moor of Venice is one of the most famous and well known plays by Shakespeare. Othello, the protagonist of the play in involved in the number of internal and external conflicts, which shape out and transform his personality. Othello’s strong feature is ability to take control over situation and to be a real leader. At the beginning of the play we admire Othello’s power and leadership and it is very difficult to admit the changes in his behaviour. He is very firm and resolute but this his ability to take decisions does not always have positive effect and does not always bring Othello profit.

We can see that jealousy and desire to control other people gradually ruin his life. Othello does not listen to his inner voice and believes in everything Iago tells him. The play appeals to us because characters depicted by Shakespeare are lively and up to date. We can image same conflict in modern setting. There still are people who get in the trap of lies and deception, created by other people; and there are sill people, who control and manipulate others’ like Iago does.

Iago knows all Othello’s weak points and so chooses the appropriate approach to tell his friend about his wife’s bad habits. Iago makes Othello believe him, he persuades him in a proper way. It is well known that Othello and Desdemona are a young couple and that they have not tested their feeling yet and so it is very easy to play on Othello’s jealously and destroy their couple. Othello does not know a lot about Desdemona, the only thing he was sure in was her love: “She loved me for the dangers I had passed, and I loved her that she did pity them” (Shakespeare 166). Nevertheless, Iago is able to make Othello hesitate. Despite al characters of Shakespeare’s play are imaginary, we can find their prototypes in our everyday life. Vindictiveness accompanies all Iago’s actions and deeds. He is so much afraid to get less than others and his feeling of superiority towards others makes his egoistic and ego-centered personality seek for new way to cheat and manipulate to achieve the things he considers to be necessary. The feeling of superiority and uncontented ambitions make him dangerous for others and justify his malicious actions in his own eyes. Iago lies to everyone to achieve his goals. His talent to twist the truth and find own profits in every situation makes him a real threat to everyone he regards as an enemy. Unfortunately not everyone understands the danger Iago hides inside of his dark soul. Othello like the rest of the personages gets in the web of his intrigues without even knowing about that. Unfortunately, in our modern life there are people, who are ready to sacrifice everything for the sake of their goals. They do not take into account interests and even lives of other people.

Othello is a noble man and an outstanding military leader. But in reality his greatness was combined with his weakness: on the one hand he was brave and intelligent, on the other hand he was somewhat passive and fell under the influence and allowed Iago manipulate him. Jealousy became that means, which let Iago to take control over Othello.Othello is blinded by his jealously and in a fit of temper kills his wife. Only later he realizes that he was cheated by his friend Iago. He feels his gilt; he cannot stand this despair and pain. He becomes his own judge.

He sincerely repents but there is no way back in the past. He sentences himself and he decides that there can be no other sentence for him but death. He asks people to speak and write about him not with anger and remember him true but thoughtless love to Desdemona. Jealousy is a part of modern life. There is a sad irony in the fact that 400 years, which passed since Shakespeare wrote his immortal play, do no change the situation much. Jealousy is still the reason of many conflicts and fights. People spoil each other’s lives because of jealousy same as it was described by Shakespeare. Attitudes to jealousy has somewhat changed since the time when the play has been written. The main reason of Othello’s grief and despair was not the fact of killing his wife, but the fact that this murder was made by mistake. If Othello had killed his really unfaithful wife, neither characters of the play nor the audience would have judged him. The murder of unfaithful wife was not treated as a crime during the times described.

Luckily, the situation has changed nowadays and both, men and women have equal rights, which are protected by the state laws. “What made Othello a tragic criminal to Shakespeare and his Globe audience was that the Moor misjudged his wife. That is no longer the case in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. This age does not recognize Othello’s right to murder his wife under any set of circumstances” (Starks, 119).

Racial issue, mentioned only occasionally in the play gets other interpretation in modern reading. If William Shakespeare does not pay much attention to the race of Othello, modern problems of racism and discrimination make the readers to look for new context of the play (Bartels, 1985). When Shakespeare wrote Othello, he made jealousy, hatred and vindictiveness its main themes. The issue of racism was not meant by the author as one of main themes of the play. Modern readers see additional meaning in Othello’s race and ether blame or justify him making his judgments based on his ethnicity.

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