Othello takes place during the Ottoman-Venetian War and follows the story of two main characters, Othello and Iago. Othello, a Muslim general serving in the Venetian army defending Cyprus, has recently married an Italian woman named Desdemona, and Iago is Othello’s evil second-in-command.
In Shakespeare’s play Othello, the protagonist falls victim to manipulation by the villainous Iago, who exploits his lack of trust in his wife Desdemona. Iago is widely regarded as one of the greatest literary villains of all time. One character who stands out is Emilia, Iago’s wife, who constantly calls out the sexist behaviour of the men around her, including her husband, and fiercely defends Desdemona even when she realizes the truth about Iago’s motives. Despite its tragic ending, Othello is full of flawed and unlikable characters who continuously make poor decisions and trust the wrong people, making it an entertaining and captivating play.
The Royal Shakespeare Company recently debated the issue of whether Othello is a racist play. During the discussion, Hugh Quarshie, a Ghanaian-born British actor, pointed out that the play’s conventions and traditions reinforce the idea that black people behave a certain way due to their ethnicity, and warned of the potential implications for black actors who portray this role.
Onyeka Nubia, an internationally recognised historian, argued that Tudor English society did not have a concept of race as we understand it today and that applying modern ideas of racism to the play may not be accurate. However, he acknowledged that the play can still be played with issues of race in mind, given the ongoing presence of racism in our society.
As per usual, like almost every Shakespeare play I have read, I loved the themes and the overtly dramatic essence of it all. It was one of the most entertaining of his plays I’ve read so far.
Bye, keep on reading.
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