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Themes in Othello

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Samantha Gibson What are the major themes we have encountered in William Shakespeare's Othello, so far in the play? 'Excellent wretch; Peridition atch my soul But I do love thee: and when I love thee not, Chaos is come again.'- Othello. There are many complex themes in Othello; it is a play full of very diverse characters. This contrast of characters gives the text its many themes and in turn, makes it a very interesting and compelling play. Love Whenever I think of this text and its themes, there is one that always stands out in my mind; love. Whether it is the marital love between Othello and Desdemona, or the unrequited love Roderigo has for Desdemona, it is something that heavily features throughout this play. Where we see love most often depicted, is the love between Desdemona and Othello, and the problems it causes. Carol Thomas Neely supports this idea that marital love is one of the main themes in the play, and that because of this the primary conflict is between men and women. ...read more.


Racism 'What a full fortune does the thick lips owe if he can carry't thus.' This is one of the many racist slurs Iago uses when referring to Othello throughout the play. Othello is black, so I was expecting racism to be a relatively prominent theme, due to the time that this is set in. However, 'thick lips' is a stereotypical view of someone from black origin, yet Othello is shown to be a hero; honest and honourable, which would have been quite startling to the Elizabethan audience, considering that black people in plays were always portrayed as villains. It is clear to see that Shakespeare challenges racial stereotypes right the way through this piece, something that Ruth Cowhig supports. She says that Shakespeare's depiction of Othello as a noble character was challenging stereotypes. The majority of racism spoken throughout this text undoubtedly comes from Iago. Whenever he is talking ill of Othello, he refers to him as 'The Moor'. ...read more.


Iago picks and picks away at him until he is so insecure he contemplates awful deeds. The consequences of Iago's manipulation become abhorrent in Act Three, Scene Three. 'Avaunt, be gone: Thou has set me on the rack: I swear 'tis better to be much abuse'd, than but to know't a little.' Othello comes across as a broken man, and its all down to Iago's manipulation and lies. Kenneth Muir believes that the reason Othello believes Iago's lies so easily, is because he is already insecure and allows himself to be influenced by him. The four themes I have chosen to write about; Love, Racism, Manipulation and Jealousy, in my opinion, best display the texts' complexity. It is a piece full of characters that, at some point, will display at least one of these themes. Shakespeare's use of these themes and how he applies them to each character has made Othello one of the greatest pieces of literature ever to appear in the literary world. 'I am not what I am'. This extremely provocative quote by Othello sums up not only himself, but much of the play as well. ...read more.

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