How Othello Differs From Other Shakespearean Plays
We all have come to recognize many of Shakespeare’s plays. Even if we’ve never sat in a theatre to witness one of his works of art. Titles like Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, or even a Midsummer’s Night Dream, you find a unique style of writing that at one time took over Elizabethan England. For centuries now, he has been recognized as a literary genius when it comes to drama or comedy and acknowledged by both critics and audiences alike. His influence goes far beyond what may be considered entertainment and has laid out a sterling example of what can actually happen when you put pen to paper.
Still, when it comes to Shakespearean plays, one has become familiar with a certain sense of his style. Many of his plays incorporate a bit of the mystical element in them. There are supernatural ghosts like those found in Macbeth, and strange insanities as found in King Lear in nearly every one of them. But when we come to his play Othello, it seems that Shakespeare has attempted and succeeded in a more natural form of prose.
The story of Othello is unlike any other Shakespearean play. The story is domestic in nature and when you look under the royal garb of its characters you find the simple story of a husband, a wife, and a villain.
The language he chooses to use is also natural and subtle. When you listen to it, it sounds natural to the ear. It is not filled with an endless number of soliloquies, monologues, or excessive extemporaneous speech. It is given in terms that even the most common of people can relate to. And it deals with a topic that even today is considered sensitive, bi-racial marriage. In fact, it has the makings of everything that makes up good entertainment today. Starting with the controversial scenes opening up with a bed on stage (unheard of for many centuries), a murder on that same bed, and a hero who gets less attention throughout the story than the bad guy.
While all of these topics are common in today’s world of entertainment, they were definitely outside of the box for Shakespeare’s time. It might cause many to wonder what entertainment would have evolved into if Othello had not broken the mold.
Of all of Shakespeare’s works, Othello is the only domestic tragedy credited to him. It is the story of a husband and wife without any nobility or distinction in their society.
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The Foundation of the Story
In the story, Othello determines his views on love by his success and a soldier. This is an area where he knows he can gain respect for the people. So even in his courtship of Desdemona, he uses his military prowess to impress her and woo her into marriage. All goes well for a while but once the Turks are no longer a threat to the people, Othello is lost. Having based everything important to him on his skill as a soldier leaving him with no visible means of supporting his household. This leaves him in a very uncomfortable position that flows over into his personal life.
Iago, then enters and takes advantage of the discomfort he is experiencing and uses his words like daggers to further insult his loss of position. The desperation Othello feels to maintain his only position of honor in society interferes with his romantic side and his personal life gradually begins to crumble; he can no longer distinguish between the two. One could say that his ‘Farewell to the tranquil mind’ is his attempt to separate from those mistakes he may have made. But even to the final speech, we find that Othello continues to cling to his identity as a soldier to ingratiate himself in the public’s eye. He wants to elevate himself to the point that the audience will want to forget the horrible acts that are committed that end his marriage and his life with Desdemona.