Create a new account

It's simple, and free.


Othello is one of Shakespeare's most compelling plays - whether it is read or seen on stage - because of the nature of the main characters. This work boasts not only one tragically drawn character but two. Moreover, not only are Othello and Iago both characters complexly limned tragic figures in and of themselves, but the interaction between the two of them (as well as the contrast between their motivations and their actions) dictates the action of the play. The result of having a pair of characters rather than a single tragic figure at the heart of this play makes Othello into a very different sort of tragedy than we find in any of Shakespeare's other works. While fate plays a hand in this play (as arguably it must in any classical or neoclassical tragedy), simply human evil is much more important in Othello than in Shakepeare's tragedies such as Romeo and Juliet or Julius Caesar. The two characters create an environment in which the weaknesses and shortcomings of each one are exacerbated by those of the other like oxygen feeding a fire, as Vaughan (1997) argues.

Because the two characters are so closely joined together in the action of the play, it is impossible to understand the nature of Othello's character without examining that of Iago as well. Iago seems to be the more evil of the two: Indeed, of all of the characters that Shakespeare created in his plays as a whole, Iago must be the one that most of us to hate. He is almost purely evil, an active force for malignancy. He seems to have no reason to do what he does beyond the pleasure that he takes in doing harm to others. We do not see this same impetus for pure evil in characters like Gertrude or Claudius, or the assassins in Julius Caesar and certainly not in the friar whose plans for Romeo and Juliet go so terribly wrong. Iago causes harm to others simply because he can and - and this is of course central to the dynamic of the play - manages to escape from the consequences...

Page 1 of 8 Next >

More on Othello...

APA     MLA     Chicago
Othello. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 18:49, May 26, 2020, from