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on April 20, 2013
To read Shakespeare presents the reader with a dilemma and he either gets into the play and the personalities as the author presents them, in his realism as he understands their psychology, which is a world away from the soap operas and film world, and you may agree or disagree with the ancient playwrights view. Here we are in the ancient world
a city, as an existence unto itself. The city prospers it needs to be defended raise money and so on and so
fourth and functions almost like a country..here we have the moorish othello in to defend the nation, the city of Venice, and the ancient politics of Rome with its senate and republican system of government seems to have fascinated Shakespeare in a different way from his own nations history, and he often plays these stories, from a history drawn from his own sources, but its the characters he creats, the poems, the love, virtue, lust, fall from grace, debauchery and all this exists within a christian world. Some live to the heights of the ancient christian view, perfections or virtues and others live lives of privation, or deprivation..Othello is one of his best and among all the stress and strain of being a battlefield commander lies the heartache of his attempt to realize love and his thought hes been cuckolded. That is the drama..adultery not only as a fact, but more succinctly his love does not love him anymore in thought..her love is elsewhere..and DEsdemona is on eof his most beautifully realized creations and she comes off best radiant in her defense a s a christian woman of the middle ages slandered, and abused in aa cutthroat world. "let heaven and men and angels let them all.cry"(p 87)..at the break up of a loving relationship much more than any concern for marriage. The whole of creation mourns..as God's work being frustrated.
Othello believing he's cuckolded laments as a military man "yet she must die,else she'll betray more men..light restore"(p 81)..the idea of restoration, a better world without the betrayor or betrayed. IN defense DEsdemona complains "I am a christian"..a common defense for the religious in the middle ages, and women accused by men, whose bond to a god above assured their loyalty to men below. THe men who sew the ideas in Othello's mind, of DEsdemona's infidelity know otherwise.."what an eye she has..perffection."(p 30)..and eyes are frequent topics of description in this beautiful play and Desdemona shines as well as the frailty of Othello, a man not capable to trust and perhaps to enter into love with his cherished Desdemona..and the many around them jealous of the love he has, seeking to destroy his relationship, as a way of destroying everything about him, but that to is a theory and theories have no place in works of art they should be enjoyed for the drama and take from it what one.."our wills are gardeners..weed up"(p 18).."lust of the blood..will come..moors are changeable in their wills..cuckhold him..pleasure..sport"..the characters in Shakespeare the ones who show grandeur have strong wills, imposing themselves on their surroundings, at times models of virtues..or they fall..and what is the reason in these finely chiselled out portraits that makes them be the people they are..great tragedy..
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"Othello" is sort of a companion piece to "Macbeth" -- both are about noble, upstanding men who are destroyed by their own weaknesses. But where Macbeth was ruined by ambition, Othello's destruction comes from his jealousy and gullibility. And the play is really ruled by the nastiest, cruelest, most devious villain Shakespeare ever wrote.

That villain is Iago, a high-ranking soldier who has a grudge against the noble Moorish soldier Othello, who has just eloped with the beautiful Desdemona. Using a nobleman as his pawn, Iago first turns Desdemona's father against Othello, but the new soldier defends himself agains claims of witchcraft.

But Iago's true plan is far more devious, as he disgraces Othello's lieutenant Cassion and plants Desdemona's handkerchief in Cassio's room. Othello finds himself confronted by a chess game of lies, deceit and suspected infidelity, and his jealousy reaches a fever pitch that can only end in death.

Yeah, the real star of this play is undoubtedly Iago. This is the most repellent mixture of absolute malicious evil and crazy-smart intellect that anyone could write -- he is the person you love to hate, even as you admire how devilishly perfect he is at playing the chessmaster who whispers poison into your ear while playing your "friend." He doesn't quite think of EVERYTHING, but he comes close enough that you would NEVER want to deal with someone like this.

But this tragedy is also underscored by the depiction of Othello, a truly noble and loyal soldier who is turned into a deranged homicidal mess. It's somehow even more disturbing to see him deteriorate than it was to see Macbeth, because this guy was on top of the world in every way -- he was smart, eloquent, a brilliant soldier and a newlywed. And look what happens to him.

And Shakespeare deftly builds up this tragedy with a subtle, interconnecting web of lies and misdirections, with the tension building slowly until something has to blow. His writing is typically powerful, generating some quotable phrases ("It is the green-ey'd monster") and lots of cynical, dark dialogue ("Who would not make her husband a cuckold to make him a monarch?").

"Othello" is a strangely fascinating tragedy, with Shakespeare absorbing us again in the tale of a good man corrupted. Definitely a good, if harrowing play.
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on September 4, 2012
I never thought I would ever like to read Shakespear but after reading Othello I have been roped in. Now I want to read more works. I enjoy this book a great deal and will enjoy reading it for many years to come.
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on May 9, 2004
What is more inticing than a story involving war-like patrons and scandal? This book has been absolutely entertaining and suspensful to read. It was stunning how many false stories, insinuations, and accussations the character "Iago" had set up from the beginning to the end. There were also so many other character types such as the pawn-like Roderigo, the seemingly calm yet furiously jealous Othello, the bleeding-heart of Desdemona, the honorable Cassio, and more! It was amazing how Iago had actually set up his false stories from the very beginning of the novel where he first employes Roderigo as his foolish pawn. The only factor of this book that was somewhat unsettling was how easily swayed Othello had gotten from Iago's insinuations. To a certain point, it almost seemed unrealistic. For example, towards the end of the play, when Iago retrieves the seemingly precious and invaluable handkercheif and uses it to make it seem that Cassio had recently been with Desdemona, that seems to be a little bit illogical. Just because Othello finds that Cassion has been holding the precious handkercheif doesn't abosuletly mean the Desdemona has been unfaithful. However, some could argue that the heavy pile of insinuations and false stories/accusations that Iago has placed on Othello could be seen as reason enough for Othello's furious rage and jealous behavior. All in all, though, this book has been quite pleasing. The amount of scandal (scandal as in the falsness of Iago) has been enough to please anyone looking for a suspensful tragedy to read.
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on January 9, 2002
Shakespeare's Othello is an interesting and dramatic tragedy. If you like imagery and irony, you will like Othello. Shakespeare uses the power of imagery skillfully to develop themes throughout the play. For example, recurring animal imagery is used to sharpen the contrast between people and beasts, showing how Iago and Othello begin to act more like beasts than human beings. Irony also adds much to the plot of Othello to make it interesting and exciting for the reader. Much of the irony used is dramatic irony because the reader knows of Iago's plot, while the characters in the play have no idea what is about to unfold. The relationship between men and women in Othello is another aspect of the play that makes it interesting to read. Iago's wife Emilia, for example, is very cynical towards men, probably from years of living with Iago. Othello and Desdemona's relationship is also intriguing. In the beginning of the play, Othello and Desdemona are seemingly deeply in love with each other. Othello, however, is rather easily convinced that his wife is cheating on him and becomes angry to the point where he cannot forgive Desdemona. He decides to kill her. As she is being murdered, Desdemona tries to protect her husband's innocence in her own murder. Another interesting aspect of the play which makes it stand out from other Shakespearean plays is the race of the main character. Othello is black and a Moor, or Muslim. This fact brings up issues to be explored in the play. Shakespeare shows the characters being separated not only by status and rank but also by their place of origin and their religion. Overall, Shakespeare's Othello is dramatic, well-written, and thoroughly explores how evil a human being can become.
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on January 9, 2002
Shakespeare's Othello is an interesting and dramatic tragedy. If you like imagery and irony, you will like Othello. Shakespeare uses the power of imagery skillfully to develop themes throughout the play. For example, recurring animal imagery is used to sharpen the contrast between people and beasts, showing how Iago and Othello begin to act more like beasts than human beings. Irony also adds much to the plot of Othello to make it interesting and exciting for the reader. Much of the irony used is dramatic irony because the reader knows of Iago's plot, while the characters in the play have no idea what is about to unfold. The relationship between men and women in Othello is another aspect of the play that makes it interesting to read. Iago's wife Emilia, for example, is very cynical towards men, probably from years of living with Iago. Othello and Desdemona's relationship is also intriguing. In the beginning of the play, Othello and Desdemona are seemingly deeply in love with each other. Othello, however, is rather easily convinced that his wife is cheating on him and becomes angry to the point where he cannot forgive Desdemona. He decides to kill her. As she is being murdered, Desdemona tries to protect her husband's innocence in her own murder. Another interesting aspect of the play which makes it stand out from other Shakespearean plays is the race of the main character. Othello is black and a Moor, or Muslim. This fact brings up issues to be explored in the play. Shakespeare shows the characters being separated not only by status and rank but also by their place of origin and their religion. Overall, Shakespeare's Othello is dramatic, well-written, and thoroughly explores how evil a human being can become.
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on January 9, 2002
Shakespeare's Othello is an interesting and dramatic tragedy. If you like imagery and irony, you will like Othello. Shakespeare uses the power of imagery skillfully to develop themes throughout the play. For example, recurring animal imagery is used to sharpen the contrast between people and beasts, showing how Iago and Othello begin to act more like beasts than human beings. Irony also adds much to the plot of Othello to make it interesting and exciting for the reader. Much of the irony used is dramatic irony because the reader knows of Iago's plot, while the characters in the play have no idea what is about to unfold. The relationship between men and women in Othello is another aspect of the play that makes it interesting to read. Iago's wife Emilia, for example, is very cynical towards men, probably from years of living with Iago. Othello and Desdemona's relationship is also intriguing. In the beginning of the play, Othello and Desdemona are seemingly deeply in love with each other. Othello, however, is rather easily convinced that his wife is cheating on him and becomes angry to the point where he cannot forgive Desdemona. He decides to kill her. As she is being murdered, Desdemona tries to protect her husband's innocence in her own murder. Another interesting aspect of the play which makes it stand out from other Shakespearean plays is the race of the main character. Othello is black and a Moor, or Muslim. This fact brings up issues to be explored in the play. Shakespeare shows the characters being separated not only by status and rank but also by their place of origin and their religion. Overall, Shakespeare's Othello is dramatic, well-written, and thoroughly explores how evil a human being can become.
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on November 18, 2000
The recent Naxos AudioBook entry in their Classic Drama Series, <Othello> NA 320612), is so well directed by David Timson that it fairly boils along. Granted that some passages are read a bit too swiftly to be followed by those without texts open before them, but one gets the feeling that this is a play and not a 400 year old monument. There are moments, however, when one could use some extra noises-on, so to speak. When Iago gets Cassio drunk, a little more rowdiness from extras would be appropriate--but perhaps I am spoiled by too many film versions and certainly by the full chorus in Verdi's opera.
Hugh Quarshie makes a more interesting Othello than a great one. He does not have that Paul Robeson voice that one tends to associate with the role, and he understands the part light years better than the Othello of that unfortunate film version a few years back. But his lightweight approach does not work when the mouth-filling flights of poetry make their demands after he is convinced of Desdamona's infidelity.
Anton Lesser also makes a fine but not great impression as Iago. Perhaps he needs to use more variety of delivery when he is being "honest" with the other characters. After all, his approach to Othello should not be in the same key as that to Roderigo or even to Cassio. Iago is a supreme actor, so it takes an equally supreme one to play him.
For once, we can hear Emilia (Patience Tomlinson) hesitate when she speaks of the "lost" handkerchief; although on a sound recording she cannot give us the body-language to explain why she betrays her lady for the sake of her husband. The Cassio (Roger May) is very good in the handkerchief scene with Iago and the hidden, miscomprehending Othello.
The running time is just over 3 hours, 11 minutes longer than the venerable Shakespeare Recording Society with Frank Silvera as Othello and Cyril Cusack as Iago, now available on Harper Audio. There still might be available a very dull version with Richard Johnson and Ian Holm, but avoid it.
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on May 22, 2001
This play embodies tragedy, and may be my favorite play by Shakes. Othello has wonderful elements - some of the most unbearable and longest dramatic irony of any play, a devilish villain whose true motives we are left to guess, a virtuous but flawed protagonist, the triumph of evil over good. Othello is a gut-wrenching play and should be appreciated for its sheer dramatic energy and passion. Certainly other questions are explored - such as the issue of racial insecurities even in a successful and admired man among prejudiced people. However, perhaps the most important things to take out of it is the sheer evil that Iago spreads around him, puppeteering the good characters with strings of wickedness.
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on December 25, 2012
Othello, comes out as a man wronged and tried to right a wrong and the only way in those days was by murder most foul, but it is the way of that world.
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