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Analysis

Literary Devices in Othello

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

The most dominant symbol in the play is the handkerchief that circulates throughout the play. Because Othello gave it to Desdemona as a first gift, the handkerchief functions as a token of his love...

Setting

The play starts in Venice and moves to Cyprus when the Turks invade.VeniceEarly modern (c. 1500-1750) Venice is a prosperous Italian city and a symbol of law and civilization. It's also full of whi...

Genre

The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice is a "tragedy" alright, and not just because the word "tragedy" appears in the play's title. We've got a handy list of the features and conventions that a...

Tone

The tone of Othello is dominated by Iago's voice. He is the only one in the play who speaks to the audience, and his bitter rants about Othello and Cassio, his casual dismissal of women as worthles...

Writing Style

Othello, like Shakespeare's other plays, is written in a combination of verse (poetry) and prose (how we talk every day). (Note: The play Richard II is the one exception to this rule – it's t...

What's Up With the Title?

Today, we know the play as simply, Othello. But check out the title page of the 1622 quarto (the first published edition of the play): The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice. The full title not...

What's Up With the Ending?

We know that by the play's end Othello has transformed from a noble general and loving husband into a jealous, irrational killer. We also know that after Othello learns the truth (that he killed th...

Plot Analysis

Wedding bells!Othello and Desdemona fall in love and run away together to get married. Everything's peachy! Until Desdemona's father finds out…Interracial marriage not approved by Dad. Also,...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis: Five-Part Tragedy

Desdemona and Othello get married and look forward to a happy life together.War interrupts their romance, but they assume they'll have time together soon.Welcome to Cyprus, Island of LoveEverything...

Trivia

Harvard philosopher, Stanley Cavell, pointed out that there is a "demon" in Desdemona and a "hell" in Othello. (Source: Schalkwyk, David. Speech and Performance in Shakespeare's Sonnets and Plays....

Steaminess Rating

There's no sex on stage in Othello (and scholars debate whether or not Desdemona and Othello ever even consummate their marriage), but the entire play is preoccupied with, well, sex. Thanks to Iago...

Allusions

None
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