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Black and white is not always so simple


A great read with an excellent, enthralling storyline .

Some of the Shakespearean language may get you a bit confused .

Recommendable Yes:

Detailed rating:

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How does it compare to similar works?Very good

How does it compare to works by the same author?Very good

8 Ciao members have rated this review on average: very helpful See ratings
very helpful by (82%):
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  2. christianfilmcritic
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helpful by (18%):
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  2. blonde_girl774
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When I started 4th Year at high school we were told we would be reading William Shakespeare's "Othello". To start with we were all thinking that it would be another boring old piece of literature but when we started reading, it turned out to be more original than Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet. I started to thouroughly enjoy it, and even though it was a bit of a drag to have to do it again recently in 5th Year, it brought back to my mind the significance of nearly every scene of the play.

One of the things I will not do in this review is give the plot away - my English teacher unfortunately decided to tell us almost every detail of the play before we even started it. I suppose this was to help us through the masses of Shakespearean phrases such as "thou art" and "mine eyes doth decieve me" and to stop us missing the important points such as the significance of Iago's line "Ha! I like not that!", but still, it would have been nice to have a surpise at the end, which is exactly the reason I am not going to give away the whole plot but just give a few descriptions of the main characters and the themes of the play.

Othello is the ultimately the tragic hero of the play. However, he is not, in my eyes, the most important character, but I will come to that later. Othello is a black outsider to Venice, where the first part of the play is set. He falls in love with a white Venecian who's father disapproves of him. He starts out as a man of great integrity but under Iago's influence, turns into a jealous husband with absolutely no dignity whatsoever. He only returns to his original dignified self at the very end of the play when it is too late to change. Othello is the character who without a doubt goes through the biggest change throughout the play.

Desdemona is the beautiful white Venetian lady with whom Othello falls in love and marries. She is completely naive, not believing that Othello could suspect her of the things he does. She cannot take in the fact that wives are unfaithful to their husbands, or the fact that there are purely evil beings in the world who would do anything they could do destroy a life or relationship. The heroine of the play, she also changes majorly in the play - transforming from a feisty young woman to a coward who falters in the face of what seems like the inevitable. As her husband changes, she changes too and loses her confidence and ability to stand up for herself.

In truth, the play should really be called "Iago" and not "Othello" as Iago could have chosen any fool to manipulate and destroy but only he could have done it, no-one else. Iago, the villain of the play without a shadow of a doubt, gets into everybody's minds and convinces them that he is "honest" while in fact he is the absolute opposite. Where Othello represents all that is good in the world, Iago represents all that is wrong with it. Worst of all, there seems to be no real reason for his hatred of Othello. Some things he uses as excuses are fixable and do not justify his actions so in the end, it seems that Iago is just a "scurvy dog" and that he is evil from the inside out.

The most obvious theme in "Othello" is the presence of opposing forces. We see the cynicism of Iago clash with the idealism of Desdemona. The maliciousness of Iago also clashes with Desdemona's kindness. Also, the integrity of Othello is opposed by Iago's evilness. Iago is sneaky and back-stabbing whereas Othello is upfront, honest and reliable. However, the most important of all is the struggle of good against evil. From the very first scene, we see Iago trying to stain Othello's good reputation, right up until the last moment when Othello has....oops, almost told you too much there!

Othello is a great read. Unfortunately I have to write an essay about it for school but at least I know it well enough. If there are any teenage kids out there looking for a personal study for school or wanting to read up on their Shakespeare for exams then I would definitely recommend "Othello" as it will stick in your mind for years to come. There are easy quotes in it and there are also many sets of notes you can purchase such as York Notes or other cliff notes. Whatever the reason you have for reading it, I can guarantee you won't want to put it down - unless the Shakespearean language gets into your head so much that you start to talk like that to other people!

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Comments about this review »

fabfrog5 05.04.2006 01:40

i love this book, its very passionate. i also bought the video where kenneth brannagh played iago. i do enjoy shakespeare lots. a great review, easy flow and good subheadings too! :) x

blonde_girl774 21.11.2005 14:58

Othello was one Shakespeare play that I never studied and always wanted to, did 4 others but never this one. Sam

Lynzie 09.11.2005 17:49

The only shakespear i did at school was Romeo and Juliet and i wasnt really interested in that, great review Lynz xx

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Product details

Type Play
Title Othello
Author William Shakespeare
ISBN 0743477553
EAN 9780743477550

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This review of Othello - William Shakespeare has been rated:

"very helpful" by (82%):

  1. fabfrog5
  2. christianfilmcritic
  3. proxam

and 15 other members

"helpful" by (18%):

  1. cfcamm
  2. blonde_girl774
  3. Marans

and a further member

The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.

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