By William Shakespeare
Essentially the most strong dramas ever written for the level, Othello is a narrative of revenge, phantasm, ardour, distrust, jealousy, and homicide. If in Iago Shakespeare created the main compelling villain in Western literature, in Othello and Desdemona he gave us our so much tragic and unforgettable lovers.
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Extra resources for Othello (The Annotated Shakespeare)
And having become her husband’s property, as she wishes to be, she “boldly” rejects her father’s claim: Desdemona My noble father, I do perceive here a divided duty. To you I am bound for life and education. You are the lord of 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. 180–89) It is a noble speech, to our ears. But four hundred years ago, it surely rang diﬀerently in many men’s hearts, as we see that it did for Brabantio.
It is Iago who has the most on-stage time, at approximately 64 percent, and Othello who comes second, with 59 percent. He is not noble, or generous, or kind. He has extraordinary talents—quick wits, high-order verbality, and an infallible nose for other peoples’ weaknesses—but does nothing but evil. His malignity is universal; no one is spared. Morally, he measures at 0 percent on any scale. Nothing and no one, no matter their sex, age, or position, merit his respect. Fanatically self-centered, he is a boaster, a liar, and at the same time a whiner and, remarkably, both a total coward and an incompetent swordsman.
General, be advised,74 He comes to bad intent. enter Brabantio, Roderigo, and Officers with torches and weapons 55 Othello Holla,75 stand76 there. Roderigo (to Brabantio) Signior, it is the Moor. Brabantio Down with him, thief ! 77 Othello Keep up78 your bright swords, for the dew will rust them. Good signior, you shall more command with years 71 general (military terms were not so standardized as they are now) 72 have with you = let’s go (“I will go with you”) 73 party, company, group 74 warned 75 halt (exclamation) 76 stay, stop* 77 am for you = am ready to ﬁght with you 78 keep up = put back, conﬁne 20 act 1 • scene 2 Than with your weapons.