You Are What You Read

Reviews of books as I read them. This is basically a (web)log of books I've read.

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Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States

I am a DBA/database analyst by day, full time father on evenings and weekends.

Friday, December 08, 2006


Othello is a little different than most books I've read. Others have been novels or nonfiction books. Shakespeare's Othello is a script for a play, which is intended to be performed. But reading Shakespeare is still a pleasure. I haven't read any of the bard in years, so I thought I'd read this play, which I'd never read or seen before.

The tragic story is pretty basic. Othello is a moor who is a general in Venice. Iago is his ensign, and jealous of Iago for choosing Cassio for his lieutenant, and for his marrying Desdemona, a beautiful daughter of a senator. Iago's jealousy urges him to destroy Othello, by making him distrust is new wife and new lieutenant. When Cassio is disgraced and stripped of his rank for brawling, Iago convinces him to beseech Othello for a reprieve, but indirectly through Desdemona. Then Iago plants the seeds of doubt in Othello, who comes to suspect his wife and Cassio. Ultimately, when Desdemona can't produce the handkerchief that he had given her, and discovers that Cassio has it (from being planted by Iago), he denounces Desdemona as a whore and kills her. He finally kills himself when Iago's wife Emilia tells him that Iago has played him false. Iago is arrested, and a wounded Cassio assumes Othello's position.

Jealousy is the main theme of the story, Iago's pure jealousy and Othello's jealousy instilled by Iago. Iago uses his trusted position and the faith that others have in him to his own advantage, betraying that trust. The highest irony is that Iago himself says that a good name is useless, though without the good name he enjoys nobody would listen to his innuendo. Iago and Othello are good foils, or opposites, for each other. Othello the honest and trusting general, Iago the scheming and betraying soldier. Iago has much the same role as the serpent with Eve, tempting with lies and half-truths, weaving a complex web of deceit. In many ways, he is evil personified.

It can be said that Othello's weakness is that he trusts others too much, and himself not enough. He allows Iago's words to enter his heart, in spite of the love and trust he has for Desdemona.

Iago is one of the greatest villians ever. He uses his abilities to bring down a powerful general. His web of lies is creative and powerful. He is the chief manipulator, the instigator of all the events of the play.

The play is a strong A. It deserves its reputation as one of Shakespeare's best.


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