The Turkish-Venetian War in Othello Essay

2260 Words 10 Pages
The Turkish-Venetian War in Othello

According to A. L. Rowse, William Shakespeare's Othello is one of the most perfect plays ever written (13). There is practically nothing in it that does not contribute to plot or character development (unlike Hamlet, which is filled with a large cast, complexities, and sub-plots). G. B. Harrison agrees that the construction is perfect (1058). Only two brief scenes with a clown in Act III don't seem to advance the play any. That, and one strange plot element: the Turkish war and change of locale from Venice to Cyprus. If the play be merely about Iago convincing a jealous Othello that his wife is sleeping with Cassio, why bother having a war between Acts I and II? None of the characters are
…show more content…
He commands extreme moral respect, much like Jesus in "Ben Hur" when he gives water to Judah under express orders from a Roman guard not to--Jesus has but to look at the guard for him to back down. Here, Othello demonstrates a commitment to non-violence unexpected in a military commander; and for that, his character shows goodness and moral strength, at least at the beginning of the play, before his fall. We see him as a man who walks with dukes, senators, and nobles, not a man killing people in a war, not a hint that he could become violently jealous and driven to murder. Act I is Othello's prime (Bloom 2).

Those who do not pay close attention to the play assume Othello's ease and contentment vanishes when Iago starts "poisoning" his thoughts about his wife being unfaithful. But this is not true. We already see Othello quite angry by Act II, scene 3, shortly after arriving in Cyprus but before Iago has begun to poison his mind, when breaking up another fight quite similar to the one in Act I, except that this one is between Cassio and Montano. At this second fight, Othello's reaction is quite different:

Now, by Heaven, my blood begins my safer guides to

rule, and passion, having my best judgement collied,

assays to lead the way. If I once stir, or do but

lift this arm, the best of you shall sink

Related Documents