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What is the importance of Venice in 'Othello'?

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Introduction

What is the importance of Venice in 'Othello'? Only a small amount of 'Othello', is set in Venice, but it still is of major importance to the plot and development of characters. Venice is located in the Italian province of Veneto. During 1603, the Ottoman Empire controlled most of Eastern Europe, which was one third of the known world. In Shakespeare's day, the Turks were demonised in a frenzy of fear and hatred that indicated how threatened the Western world felt by them. The city was also famed for its Cortesans. Venice was the centre of Christian civilisation and as a nation of traders, it depended on open sea lanes for shipping routes. Venice was a cultural, wealthy and luxurious city. It did not have a University, but writers and scholars were drawn to it. Venice, had the perfect republic, ' La Serenissima', Dukes and Senators worked together to provide a trusted legal system. To English audiences, Venice conjured up an image of a city of gold. ...read more.

Middle

The characters are now away from safety and security. Iago uses this to his advantage, he carries on with his injustices as he knows he is away from the law and order of Venice. Iago has insider knowledge of Venetian women, and he uses this to poison Othello's thoughts. He says ' in Venice they do not let heaven see the pranks they dare not show their husbands'. This is important for the portrayal of the affair between Cassio and Desdemona, as Othello cannot dispute this information. The gullibility of Othello as an outsider is apparent here as he has faith in what Iago is telling him, he has no mean of checking this and so falls prey. Othello even makes it easier for Iago by saying, 'if more thou dost perceive, let me know'. Cassio's mistress, the courtesan Bianca, highlights some the morals of the characters and shows how demeaning the men are towards women. Bianca is annoyed with Cassio and asks why he hasn't been to see her: ' What? ...read more.

Conclusion

It is her word against Othello's, who has been strongly influenced by Iago. This can be seen when Desdemona cannot convince Othello that the handkerchief has been stolen, she says, 'I say it is not lost', to which Othello replies ' Fetch't; let me see it'. The loss of the handkerchief shows the loss of faith between Othello and Desdemona, and this is never recovered. Since the characters have left Venice, they have become more cunning and sly, as there is no law to punish them, the frantic scene in which Cassio is wounded by Roderigo, who is killed by Iago shows this. After stabbing Roderigo, Iago goes back to helping Cassio by tying his shirt around the wound: ' Light gentlemen, I'll bind it with my shirt'. Iago would not have been able to get away with this in the security of Venice. The deaths of Othello and Desdemona in the final part of the play also show how with no law to guide them, evil can prevail. In conclusion, Venice is of great importance to 'Othello', as it shows how inhabitants from a civilized society can be drawn into events which have been developed away from law and order. . ...read more.

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