Since the play's protagonist is a military general, war is always hovering in the background in Othello. But the only actual battle the play promises is avoided, thanks to bad weather. The real battleground of the play, it turns out, is the mind. Many critics read Othello as an extended war allegory; it is possible to see Iago's machinations as the strategic planning of a general, individual victories as minor battles, and the three resulting deaths the casualties of psychological combat. The play also dwells on the relationship between masculine identity, war, and sexuality.
Othello is uncomfortable with being a lover, and this makes it easier for Iago to sway him from being gentle and loving to being a furious killer.