Author: William Shakespeare (Website)
Format: Paperback (368 pages)
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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
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.