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"Othello" Literary Analysis

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The play, The Tragedy of Othello the Moor of Venice, written by William Shakespeare has many underlying and reoccurring themes throughout. One major theme is that of betrayal and loyalty. During the entire play every character is either loyal to, or betrays another character. The theme of betrayal and loyalty is a universal theme throughout The Tragedy of Othello the Moor of Venice, and can be seen through the characters Iago, Desdemona, and Othello.

Iago is one of the main portrayers of betrayal during the entire play. His betrayal can be seen many times mostly to the main character Othello, but to many other characters as well. In the beginning of the play, Iago starts his long montage of betrayal. It all starts when Iago gets the idea to betray Othello and says, "Thus do I ever make my fool my purseƐ'...I hate the Moor, And it is thought abroad that 'twixt my sheets 'Has done my office. I know not if 't be true, But I, for mere suspicion in that kind, Will do as if for surety. He holds me well. The better shall my purpose work on him. Cassio's a proper man. Let me see now: To get his place and to plume up my will In double knavery-- How? how?--Let's see. After some time, to abuse Othello's (ear) That he is too familiar with his wife." (Othello, 1, 3, 426-439) Iago thinks that Othello had an affair with his wife and wants to get him back. He also wants to betray Cassio because he is jealous of him. Iago is jealous of Cassio because he was promoted to Lieutenant by Othello instead of him. Iago is a very disloyal, sneaky, and dishonest person to everyone in the play. He does whatever he can to make what he wants happen, no matter who he hurts in the process. Another example of Iago's betrayal occurs when he tells Cassio he will help him and says, "Come, come, good wine is a good creature if it be well used. Exclaim no more against it. And, good lieutenant, I think you think I love you."(Othello, 2, 3, 328-330) This shows that Iago is trying to gain Cassio's trust by getting him drunk. This again proves that Iago will do anything to get his plan completed. This is similar to the play "Hamlet" because both Hamlet and Iago will do anything they can to complete their task. All in all, Iago portrays betrayal throughout the play.

Desdemona, Othello's wife is a character of both betrayal and loyalty. But, when she is disloyal to a character it is out of loyalty and love for another character. She must lie to her father to be with her true love Othello. She does this when she says to her father, "My noble father, I do perceive here a divided duty. To you I am bound for life and education both do learn me How to respect you. You are the lord of my duty. I am hitherto your daughter. But here's my husband. And so much duty as my mother showed To you, preferring you before her father, So much I challenge that I may profess Due to the Moor my lord." (Othello, 1, 3, 208-220) Desdemona tells her father that she is loyal to him, but has to choose Othello over him. In relation to the history of the Moors in Europe, the Moors were looked down upon as with Desdemona's father looked down on Othello. Moor's were seen as being barbaric and ruthless warriors. Only bred for being ruthless warriors and nothing else. That is why it is so profound that Desdemona is so undeniably in love with Othello and will do whatever it takes to be with him, even turn her back on her own family. Desdemona is always loyal to Othello throughout the play and Iago does his best to disprove this by getting into Othello's mind. Othello believes Iago and says Desdemona is disloyal and cheats on



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