Crafting a Superb Othello Essay Isn’t Impossible

August 2, 2018 | GradeMiners
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Othello, otherwise known as The Moorish Captain is one of Shakespeare’s greatest hero-turned-tragedy stories. The story explores the fictional tale of Othello, a Moorish general in the Venetian army, who falls in love with a senator’s daughter but is manipulated by his ensign, Lago, to develop feelings of jealousy and betrayal. The end result is tragic, with Othello killing his wife Desdemona and taking his own life. Originally taken from ‘Un Capitano Moro’ by Cinthio (1565), Shakespeare spun new characters and gave new perspectives into the recurrent themes of the time to create this historical masterpiece in 1603.

Othello’s tragedy is one of the most covered titles in both high schools and colleges. Numerous plays and theatre productions have been created from it, not to mention hundreds of literary and film adaptations. As a literature student, there is always a high likelihood that you will be asked to write an Othello essay, focused on any of the characters, the prevalent themes, images or symbols. Tackling an essay on any of these subjects isn’t easy, especially due to the multi-dimensional nature of Shakespearean work. You need to explore the entire written play from cover to cover, and also read other scholarly interpretations of the same piece in order to have an essay that is completely on point. This might take you a good amount of time, therefore, it is proper to plan your research adequately. Ultimately, Shakespearean work is riddled with different complexities that also give his work a certain level of timelessness. You should always have a pen and a notebook to write down anything of interest. Also, always keep an open mind when reading through his work because Shakespeare tends to intertwine characters with settings and images even on the most subtle levels.

Major Character Development in Othello

Othello, the main protagonist, is initially portrayed as an outsider who has found success and fame in a foreign country. Being a Moorish general in the predominantly white city of Venice (his African origins are often referenced through racial epithets by other characters), his success is always conflicted with his perceived inferior foreign background. He is initially cast as indifferent to the perceptions, visible in how confidently he addresses the Venetian senate and the Duke. However, as the plot unravels, it is revealed that Othello is quite sensitive to his skin tone, which is the primary cause of his insecurities, eventually leading him to lose faith in his wife and the tragic events that follow. His strong, noble character and good judgement are flawed by insecurities which give out when he eventually distrusts the woman that he loves, in typical Shakespearean fashion.

Lago is the archetypal villain; a betrayer always lurking in the shadows to take advantage of other characters’ worries. He is a manipulator at all levels, and he gets entangled in a web of jealousy and deceit that wraps around all other characters and eventually causes the entire plot to unravel. Though referred to as ‘honest Lago’ because of a faux reputation he has built up as a straight speaking and reliable ensign and friend, Lago’s true intentions are revealed to the audience but never to any of the characters except Roderigo, to whom he briefly elaborates on his plans. Edwin Booth described Othello as “quick in motion as in thought…lithe and sinuous as a snake.”

Desdemona who Othello elopes with is the daughter of the senator Brabantio. She is cast as loyal, unfettered to common beliefs, subtle but wise and one with confidence. Even upon her death and betrayed by the one she loves most, her character remains natural, and she stays defending the one she loves.

There are other important characters such as Roderigo and Emilia, who contribute to major themes in the plot. Your Othello essay cannot tackle these characters in isolation, and you have to take keen note of any interactions with other characters in the story. For example, Lago has perched his heinous plot on his knowledge of Othello’s insecurities, and every opportunity he gets he pries on these insecurities ultimately leading to the downfall of most of the major characters, including himself.

How to Stand Out With Your Essay on Othello

With your Othello essay, it isn’t enough to understand a single character, plot or theme. Everything is intertwined, and even the often colourful language used by some of the characters has greater ramifications on themes being explored. For example, Othello is referred to as a ‘Barbary horse’, ‘lascivious Moor’, and “an old black ram…tupping your white ewe.’ These directly speak about the racist attitudes of the time that Africans and other non-white foreigners were subjected to. The use of a white handkerchief supposedly stained with Desdemona’s betrayal is an allegory to her perceived laying with Cassio on linen. The story moves beyond superficial characters, and you need to understand the classic Greek tragedy of which Shakespeare is seemingly a fan of. The plot is quite linear, focusing on the impending betrayal of Othello and the doom that surrounds most of the major characters. The play’s structure is an important part of creating a focus for your essay, and you need to fully understand the exposition, character development, rising action and complications, changing directions, the final crisis and resolutions.

Your Othello essay might only require you to explore a singular character or theme, but it’s necessary to understand their interactions with the entire story, otherwise, you will produce half-baked work. It might be difficult to read the book several times over to get a crystal clear understanding. That’s where comes in. With expert and original writing, you are guaranteed some of the best papers Australia has to offer. Get your custom paper today!

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