Themes in Shakespeare’s “Othello”
There is the scholarly debate about the date when William Shakespeare wrote the tragedy Othello but it can be said that this story is written in the 1600s. This is a sad story about lost trust in friendship, the effect of love, and the meaning of life. In short, this Shakespeare’s tragedy tells about the love of Othello and Desdemona, which was destroyed by vicious and envious people. Because of a feeling of jealousy, Othello killed his beloved and only after committing the crime did he realize how wrong he was in his motives and beliefs. Othello could not forgive himself for such an atrocity and killed himself by sticking a knife in his heart. Such a tragedy occurred due to the actions of Iago, who hid his evil intentions behind a mask of friendliness and openness. Therefore, this play teaches not to trust other people’s slander and to have your own opinion.
In the play, one can indicate the meanings that are acute up to the modern times. In general, Shakespeare says that a person should always think and weigh several points of view before taking any action. In the case of the protagonist, it is obvious that Othello should not have been led by his momentary emotions. The reader will easily see this dichotomy between emotion and reason, which is inherent in people throughout their lives.
It is also useful to consider the play in the context of Elizabethan Era. Although the Elizabethan era is considered the pinnacle of Britain’s greatness in the world, the style and use of words in Othello speaks volumes about the racism and discrimination of those times. In the 1st Act, Iago says: “even now, now, very now, an old black ram is tupping your white ewe” (Shakespeare 69). Here Iago compares Othello with “old black ram”, expressing the great contempt for the black man. Through the text, attentive readers will definitely find such racial claims from Brabantio and Iago. This shows how during Elizabethan era the noble society was unjust to people of different colour or origin.
Shakespeare, William. Othello (The New Cambridge Shakespeare). Cambridge University Press, 2003.