Othello Essay

1195 Words Oct 8th, 2012 5 Pages
Othello Essay

William Shakespeare’s Othello tells a story of the tragic downfall of a man through jealousy and mistrust, influenced by the manipulative actions of another. Due to innumerable changes within society over time, it is inevitable that a wide range of critical interpretations and readings of the text will emerge.

My personal interpretation of the play draws from the concepts of the traditional Aristotelian views of a tragedy. An Aristotelian interpretation concerns itself with whether Othello can be considered a true tragedy. The two main principles which determine whether a text can be labelled as a true tragedy include the plot and the characters.

The first principle within an Aristotelian tragedy includes the idea
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Othello successfully contains the aspects of an Aristotelian tragedy. However, this reading does not analyse social status of characters or the social context, and thus a more modern interpretation such as the feminist reading may prove more relevant.

The feminist reading highlights and explores the roles of women and men in the text. Since the play was written during the Elizabethan times, there are many aspects of Othello that may appear as sexist from a contemporary view. A feminist reading of Othello centralises on analysing the female characters within the play – more specifically, Desdemona and Emilia.

Women within the play were seen as objects or possessions as seen when Iago warns Brabantio – “Look to your house, your daughter, your bags!” Iago is seen as familiarising women with mere possessions. It is also evident that women were seen as being lower-class by observing their roles in their society. The men all possess highly ranked jobs such as the Moor and the Senators whereas the women were restricted to courtesans and servants.

The stereotypical submissive nature of women is portrayed through the character Desdemona. However, at the beginning of the play, she is seen to oppose her father and speak freely of her love with Othello stating – “So much I challenge that I may profess Due to the Moor my

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