7 June 2015

REVIEW: Othello (William Shakespeare)

The jealous are troublesome to others, but a torment to themselves.
~ William Penn

Othello by William Shakespeare

It's only the second of Shakespeare's plays that I've read, but if you recall, I wrote last September about a book haul in which I obtained a huge anthology of his works. So, I'll be reading that. (Eventually.)

But I read Othello as part of an assignment for my English class at school.

(Tip: Most of the time, when I review an old or a classic book/play/what-have-you, it is one that I read for school. If it's a modern YA fiction story, assume that I read it for leisure.)

I like Shakespeare. I mean it -- not many of my peers look forward to reading his work, and some of them downright dread it. I don't, honestly, although that is a conclusion I've made simply from reading Othello and Romeo and Juliet and, admittedly, may be subject to change.

I doubt it.

But, I tend to enjoy Shakespeare's tragedies! I can't speak for his histories and comedies, as I haven't yet read any of them, but I like how his tragedies involve a lot of diverse, creatively-conceived characters who are forced to learn lessons through their own wrongdoings. After all, that's how people in real life learn lessons -- by making mistakes. (It's just that most people's mistakes don't involve bloody murder.)

Before we began to read Othello, my teacher described Iago as such a good villain that "you love to hate him." And, in my opinion, that's kind of true. He is excellent at devising plans that -- up until the very end -- were foolproof. I have to point out that I actually somewhat respect his skills in cleverness and manipulation.

I don't have a large amount of respect for Othello, though. I know that by the final scene he was supposed to redeem himself and prove himself to be a tragic hero, but I think that was overshadowed by his earlier mistrust, moodiness, and jumping-to-conclusions sort of attitude.

I think he is immature, too -- he eloped with his wife at a young age and they spent, like, maybe a few weeks together before all the trouble happens. He basically enters his new marriage by lying to and accusing his wife, instead of facilitating honesty and open discussion. Great way to start a marriage.

And, Emilia! She is fantastic! She's, like, the original fictional feminist. Throughout the story she challenged the Elizabethan era's patriarchal society by pointing out the political, social, and sexual discrepancies between men and women of the time; namely, that men had far more rights in these areas.

Still, can you imagine being killed over a handkerchief? Jeez.

Have you read Othello, or any of Shakespeare's works? What do you like and hate about them? Leave a comment!

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