Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade September 2001

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The play of "Othello" by William Shakespeare is set about four hundred years ago in sixteenth-century Venice, Italy, yet its timeless themes of betrayal, jealousy, love and racism continue to light up passions and carry on wars in modern day. The dark-skinned General Othello leads his officers with confident authority into combat, but off the battlefield, he is hardly in control, not even of his own life. The insecurities that come along with being a social outsider make Othello easy prey for the villainous Iago and ultimately lead to a deadly showdown that puts friend against friend and husband against wife into opposition.

The story concerns the destruction of a marriage by jealousy. This is presented in such scenes as the one where Othello demands Desdemona to produce the handkerchief that he once gave to her, but she is unable to all thanks to Iago's evil scheming.

When it is later found among Cassio's possessions, Othello becomes so overcome with irrepressible anger and unthinking jealousy that he later kills Desdemona for her alleged infidelity. These tragic events would not have happened if it had not been for his naïve acceptance of Iago at face value, by which allows him to masterfully play upon Othello's greatest tragic flaw.

The story also revolves around the theme of betrayal. Feigning friendship, honesty and loyalty, the conniving Iago plants the "green-eyed monster" in Othello's mind. Iago, an intelligent, quick-witted ensign serving under the Moorish Commander, betrays Othello by deceivingly acting out his resentment of Othello's promotion of Michael Cassio ahead of him. He also swindles Roderigo, a willing conspirator against the Moor, into selling all his land to buy jewels in hopes of wooing Desdemona's heart, but Iago ends up keeping all the jewels and money for...

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