A Review Of "Othello, The Moor Of Venice" By William Shakespeare Essay Sample
One would imagine that most students of Literature ponder the merits of studying Shakespeare. They might ask themselves the questions: Why do we still study him in 2015? Are his works still relevant today? If one can get past the ancient language, one discovers that reading Shakespeare can be very much like watching a favorite television show. This drama review examines the themes such as jealousy and revenge and evaluates the relevance of William Shakespeare’s “Othello, The Moor of Venice” for the modern viewer.
Back in the 1600’s when this play was written, people did not have televisions to entertain them. Instead, they relied on plays like “Othello, The Moor of Venice” to give them the entertainment they needed. If the modern viewer takes a look at the most popular television shows airing today, they will that these shows are full of sex, lies, lus, scandal, and revenge. The themes in Shakespeare’s play deliver the same excitement and intrigue. Othello and Desdemona love each other. Roderigo lusts after Desdemona and, with his friend Iago, plot a scandal to break up her marriage to Othello. Iago, on the other hand, plots revenge against Othello merely for giving away a military position (that he believed was his) to someone with no experience. These themes are recurrent throughout the play and leave the viewers wanting more.
As with most of Shakespeare’s tragedies, Act I points out motive. Roderigo has enlisted the help of Iago to win the hand of Desdemona. He confronts Iago when he learns that Desdemona has married Othello. Iago in turn reveals to both the audience and to Roderigo that he hates Othello. The reasoning behind his hate is that he has worked long and hard proving himself to be a worthy soldier and deserves the title of lieutenant. However, when it came time for the promotion Othello passed over Iago for a man named Cassio who has no experience at all as a soldier. Roderigo wants to satisfy his love and lust for Desdemona, but Iago wants Othello to fall both as a leader and as a man. The two begin their scheming by tell Desdemona’s father that she has been forced into marriage with Othello. This enrages the man and he rushes off to defend his daughter’s honor. And so, with this, the plots against Othello begin.
The real villain in the play is Iago. By the second act Roderigo is revealed to be mainly a fool in love with no real malice in his heart. He plans to return to Venice broke, beaten up, and a little smarter for his endeavors. Iago, however, is just getting started. He has gotten Cassio drunk, propelled him into fighting, and gotten him fired from his lieutenant position. Even after all this, Iago plans to add fuel to the fire by using Cassio and Desdemona to plant seeds of doubt, mistrust, and rage in the mind of Othello. Iago plays the classic villain, but one wonders if his motive is enough for him to go as far as he does in his plot for revenge. It seems that (by todays standards at least) it would take a little more than just getting passed over for a job to make one person hate another so much. One has to wonder if there was something else involved in the mix. Shakespeare makes sure that the audience knows that the reason is not Desdemona. Iago has revealed that he loves Desdemona but doesn’t lust after her. Yet for all his love he has no regrets in using her feminine wiles to plot revenge against her husband. In essence, Iago’s motive raises more questions than it answers.
Planting jealousy in the heart of Othello is Iago’s main scheme. In Act III Iago is setting up the stage to start unraveling Othello and Desdemona’s relationship. This theme is not really relevant in today’s society, but one relate to the play in this manner because it is prevalent on modern television shows. How many viewers turn on the television just to find out who did what to whom in a fit of jealous rage? What makes for exciting television also makes an exciting play.
As with many of Shakespeare’s tragedies, the characters seem to have a sixth sense about their impending doom. Desdemona is no different as she has a hunch that something is about to go terribly wrong. Most dramas don’t need or use this element of omniscience. At this point viewers are wrapped up in the story and while tt doesn’t remove anything from the play, it doesn’t add anything to it either.
Acts IV and V bring the audience to the climax of the play. All of Iago’s hard work has paid off. He has incited Othello into becoming a changed man. Earlier it was mentioned that the characters are neither likeable nor dislikeable. However, here the audience may be a little more interested in an insight into Othello’s character. In the beginning of the play Othello seems to be against unwarranted violence, but in Act IV he hits his wife, and midway through Act V he has strangled her to death. The audience will also find that Iago has goaded Roderigo into fighting Cassio. There is a small problem with believability in the character Roderigo. Roderigo already mistrusts Iago’s intentions. He has a hunch that Iago has been using him and stealing his money. Why then go and start a fight with Cassio just for Iago? Especially since Cassio had in Act III already beaten him up. Also, Roderigo, in the very same act had claimed that he grown wiser and resolved to go home. Would a smart man really stick around after that?
Like all good webs of deceit, Iago’s schemes come unraveling at the end of the play. Desdemona has died at Othello’s hand. Iago has killed Roderigo, and wounded Cassio. Desdemona’s maid confronts Othello, calls him out for his stupidity in believing that his wife cheated on him. Arrows begin pointing in Iago’s direction and to cover himself he kills his wife and flees. In his grief, Othello kills himself. The only part of the last act that is of little relevance for today’s modern viewer is that Othello stuck around to witness the fact that he had been used. Most dramas of today would have had the murder-suicide happen together. The audience would have been witness to the unraveling of Iago’s plot, and not Othello.
William Shakespeare might have been ahead of his time in writing a play that could appeal to today’s audience. Televised drama really doesn’t break from the mold that he created. Plot holes and character flaws aside, the sex, lies, drama, murder and revenge themes that make up this play, also make popular television programs. All in all, the modern person would be entertained from either watching or reading Shakespeare’s play “Othello, The Moor of Venice”.