Othello by William Shakespeare

Othello by William ShakespeareTitle: Othello
Author: William Shakespeare
Pages: 368
Genre: Drama
Othello tells the story of a Moorish general in command of the armed forces of Venice, who earns the enmity of his ensign Iago by passing him over for a promotion. Partly for revenge and partly out of pure evil, Iago plots to convince Othello that Desdemona, his wife, has been unfaithful to him. Summary from Goodreads

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Even though I was required to read several of Shakespeare’s play in high school, Othello is only play I’ve actually read from beginning to end.

To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to reading Othello for my current English class.  I’m not a fan of Shakespeare because I don’t understand him.  However, I was pleasantly surprised.  Because of the footnotes, some help with Spark Notes, and looking up words I didn’t understand in the dictionary, I actually understood most of what happened in the play.

Before I read Othello, I had no idea what the play was about.  I’m only familiar with a few of Shakespeare’s plays so it was quite a surprise to find out that this play had elements of racism, sexism, infidelity, betrayal, and murder.

To help us see Othello as more than a play, we were required to find articles with critical reviews of the play. I thought it was very interesting to read those reviews.  Many critics complain that Othello is racist because of how the character Othello is depicted in the play.  Whereas, other critics complain that the sexist plot elements should be what people are concerned with, not the racism.  Personally, after having read different reviews and the play itself, I feel that some of the characters are indeed racist and/or sexist, but I don’t feel like the play itself is racist or sexist.  Because Shakespeare made Othello the hero of the story and in such a high position, which would’ve been unheard of in his time, and because he had Desdemona go against conventional norms for women of the time, I feel that Shakespeare was trying to get people to think outside the box not perpetuate racism or sexism.

Othello definitely isn’t one of my favorite reads, but I did enjoy it for its beauty and controversial story.  It made me think and I like those types of reads.  Because of my experience with this play, I actually look forward to reading more Shakespeare in the future.



  1. says

    I completely agree. Iago is the epitome of evil and he makes the play so interesting. He’s pretty much the roundest character in the entire play. Everyone else is fairly flat. Without Iago, there is no play.

  2. aymee says

    Yeah. I LOVE Shakespeare. But you definitely need assistance in reading them. I haven’t read Othello, but I would like to one day….

  3. says

    Let’s just say I love BEING a Shakespeare than reading/seeing/experiencing Shakespeare in his “glory” – I just don’t like it…
    My father is William Shakespeare, as is my brother, my nephew…I much prefer their works!
    As Shakespeares we do have a lot of fun with it – the Bard Party on his birth/death date, games involving character names and such.
    I’m the only one in my family that doesn’t like Shakespeare, but I’m also old enough that I don’t’ feel bad about it :) tease me all you want :)
    I’m glad you enjoyed? endured? Othello.

  4. says

    Aymee – I had no idea that you loved Shakespeare. That’s cool.

    Denise – I thought it was really cool when I noticed your maiden name was Shakespeare. Do you know if you’re related to him?

  5. says

    I read that way back in high school, so I don’t remember the plot too well, but I enjoyed it. I agree that you need some kind of assistance reading Shakespeare (my books have word translations on the opposite page of the text), and a classroom/discussion setting is even better. But I do like Shakespeare!

  6. says

    Ashley – That’s a great idea to have word transitions on the opposite pages of Shakespeare plays. When I look into buying some of his works, I’ll have to make sure the books I buy have those.

  7. says

    Jenni–the books I have with translations on the opposite page are from The New Folger Library editions. I don’t know if they still make them or not. I got them way back in high school, when the school usually gave students their own copies of whatever we were reading in class. Sweet deal. They are also cheap. Probably $4 or $5.

  8. Kayla says

    The best way to do Shakespeare is to watch it. I never understood why people insist on reading them when they’re designed to be performed! I really enjoyed Othello- but there are certainly ones I like even better.

  9. says

    Kayla – I agree with you. I like seeing it performed better. However, having a foundation on the play by reading it and understanding it helps me understand the performance better too. I think doing both is a good thing to do.

  10. says

    Othello is intense & I totally agree about Iago. Absolutely wicked & definitely steals the play. :)

    Now that you’ve read one of Shakespeare’s tragedies, you should definitely check out one of his comedies! Much Ado About Nothing and Twelfth Night are both excellent. The banter between Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing is some of my favorite dialogue ever! :)

  11. says

    Violet – Thanks for the recommendation. I would love to Much Ado About Nothing or even A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I don’t know what Twelfth Night is about, but I should read it as well. 😉

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