Thursday, May 15, 2014


Here is an example of an essay on Othello. Please note, it is not written in the modern PEEL style of analytical essay, but nevertheless, has some good points which may be helpful in your exam.

It deals with the characters, Iago, Othello, Desdemona, Cassio.
Written in 1604, Othello is one of Shakespeare's most highly concentrated, tightly constructed tragedies, with no subplots and little humour to relieve the tension. Othello is one of Shakespeare's four great tragedies and is unique among these tragedies. Unlike Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth, which are set against a backdrop of affairs of state and which reverberate with suggestions of universal human concerns, Othello is set in a private world and focuses on the passions and personal lives of its major figures. Indeed, it has often been described as a "tragedy of character"; Othello's swift descent into jealousy and rage and Iago's dazzling display of villainy have long fascinated students and critics of the play. The relationship between these characters is another unusual feature of Othello. With two such prominent characters so closely associated, determining which is the central figure in the play and which bears the greater responsibility for the tragedy is difficult.
More than anything else, what distinguishes Othello from its great tragedies' peers is the role of its villain, Iago, whose diabolical role is confusing to say the least. What motivates this character to bring about the downfall of the main characters? Iago is a character who essentially writes the play's main plot, takes a key part in it, and gives first-hand direction to the others, most notably to the noble Moor, Othello. The play presents us with two remarkable characters, Iago and his victim, with Iago as the dominant force that causes Othello to see the infidelity of his young and beautiful wife, Desdemona, with his favourite lieutenant, Michael Cassio. Indeed, not only is "seeing" and the gap between appearance and reality a central theme of the play, it overlaps with other major thematic strands (trust, honour, and reputation) and sheds light on still others, including the theme of patriarchy and the political state. Shakespeare related almost every incident directly to the development of Iago's schemes and Othello's escalating fears. This structure heightens the tragedy's ominous mood and makes the threat to both Desdemona's innocence and the love she and Othello share more terrifying.
Although narrow in scope, Othello, with its intimate domestic setting, is widely regarded as the most moving and the most painful of Shakespeare's great tragedies. The fall of a proud, dignified man, the murder of a graceful, loving woman, and the unreasoning hatred of a "motiveless" villain—all have evoked fear and pity in audiences throughout the centuries. It possesses a power that is perhaps more immediate and strongly felt for operating on the personal, human plane.

I have edited the full essay.

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