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Othello by William Shakespeare


by William Shakespeare

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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read it online (MIT Shakespeare, full collection of plays), to better explain the movie O to my sons, directed by Tim Blake Nelson
  frahealee | Dec 3, 2017 |
Huh. Well, I'll lay myself open to charges of philistinery and admit that Othello – the only one of the Big Tragedies that I'd not read until now — disappointed me. Our noble hero is even more easily duped regarding his “beloved's” faithfulness than Claudio (Much Ado about Nothing), and the true-hearted Desdemona is even more of a doormat than Viola (Twelfth Night).

Given the references I've seen so often to the “noble Moor,” I expected Othello to be an intelligent, competent, stalwart sort of fellow, who would only be misled as to his wife's faithfulness through the most devious maneuvers and false evidence. All it actually took, though, was a dropped and stolen hankie. I mean, REALLY? If Othello had given it a moment's thought he'd have remembered that Desdemona pulled the handkerchief out to mop his grumpy brow after one of his (many, many) temper tantrums, and that he dropped the thing on the floor, complaining that it was too Small for his big, manly head. What a freakin' moaner. I was appalled by his self-absorption – his whole reason for “loving” Desdemona was that she hung on his every word and felt sorry for all the troubles he'd suffered. What he wanted was not a Wife, but a particularly devoted German Shepherd. And Desdemona, who initially was an appealingly spunky girl, gets slapped around in public and dissolves into a puddle of masochistic goo. Iago is plenty villainous, but his villainy is so all encompassing that it really seems pretty pointless. He's just mean. His scheming – the astute way he uses suggestion to arouse Othello's insecurities and jealousies – is impressive at first, but after a while his one-trick character gets dull. At least Thersites (Troilus and Cressida), another evil-for-no-reason character, offers astonishingly creative invective to liven his performance, whereas when asked to explain himself Iago just harumphs and says he has no intention of explaining anything.

So, the play offers seemingly endless histrionics from Othello, who somehow earned the friendship of a nice fellow like Cassio and the love of the sweet Desdemona despite the fact that all we ever see from him are braggadocio and raging insecurities, and evil schemes to no particular end but the general misery by Iago. Not one of my favorites.

I read this in the Oxford Shakespeare edition, which has nice heavy paper and dark print, but I have to say that the cheap paper and larger print (and less copious notes) of the Folger editions are easier reading. I listened to the Archangel recording, which is really, really excellent. Iago is just Perfectly done, and Desdemona is wonderful. Othello – well, the actor does a great job with what he had to work with; an insecure, egotistical, hysterical bully. ( )
  meandmybooks | Sep 28, 2017 |
One of those where I just feel so much has been said that I can't think of what to compile or contribute. I suppose all I can do is continue to recommend it. ( )
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
Othello, believing the report of the lying Iago, believes his wife Desdemona was unfaithful to him. Much of the evidence rests on a handkerchief. It's definitely sad as are most tragedies. Sadly there are far too many people who tell lies with consequences just as devastating as the ones in this play. It also shows the consequences of jealousy. ( )
  thornton37814 | Mar 7, 2017 |
Another great tragedy from the Bard, part of a streak of stunning drama from his later years. It is very easy to follow – especially compared to my last Shakespeare experience, King Lear – with a very focused and contained plot. Iago is one of Shakespeare's straightest villains (as opposed to an anti-hero), and his presence dominates the play much more than the titular Othello. I was not often convinced of the affection between Othello and Desdemona – we never see the two of them together for any length of time, baring their souls in embrace as we do for, say, Romeo and Juliet – but Othello's jealousy ("the green-eyed monster" (pg. 82)) is extremely vivid and white-hot.

A lot is made nowadays of the inter-racial romance between the black Moor, Othello, and Desdemona, the fair noblewoman with skin like alabaster (pg. 121), but this is in truth only a small part of the play. It is an interesting part, especially for our modern politically-correct culture and its obsession with race relations, but Iago's distaste of Othello can just as easily be put down to Machiavellian manoeuvring as much as racism. The play Othello resolves itself in classic vengeance plotting and anguished love: it is cold, green jealousy that drives the play, not black and white.

Indeed, the play seemed more modern to me not for the racial stuff but because a lot of the harm caused in the play – from all major characters, but particularly Iago – comes from defamation. (Ironically, it is the slanderous Iago who says: "Who steals my purse, steals trash… But he that filches from me my good name/Robs me of that which not enriches him/And makes me poor indeed." (pg. 82)). In our shout-down, zero-sum, Twitter-mob society, it is the slurs and tunnel-vision and emotionally-charged misunderstandings of Othello which resonate with me. But regardless of what stands out for you, Shakespeare once again leaves a great wealth of things for us to unpick. ( )
1 vote MikeFutcher | Feb 15, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (164 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shakespeare, Williamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alden, Raymond MacDonaldEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Appelbaum, StanleyEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Barnet, SylvanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bate, JonathanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bentley, Gerald EadesEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bevington, DavidEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bolte, HannoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Braunmuller, Albert RichardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brooke, TuckerEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
D'Agostino, NemiEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eccles, MarkDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ejiofor, ChiwetelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Farjeon, HerbertEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Furness, Horace HowardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Günther, FrankTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gibbings, RobertIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gill, EricIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gill, RomaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hall, Kim F.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hammersmith, JamesAssociate Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harbage, AlfredEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harrison, George B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hart, Henry ChichesterEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Herford, Charles HaroldEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Honigmann, E.A.J.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Houseman, JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hudson, Henry N.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, Pei te HurinuiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jylhä, YrjöTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kastan, David ScottAssociate Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kerman, AlvinEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kittredge, George LymanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
LaMar, Virgina A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lombardo, AgostinoContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mason, LaurenceEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McMillin, ScottEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mowat, Barbara A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Neill, MichaelEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Neilson, William AllanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Connor, JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Obertello, AlfredoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Orgel, StephenEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Papp, JosephForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parrott, Thomas MarcEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Picasso, PabloCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Raffel, BurtonEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rasmussen, EricEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ridley, Maurice RoyEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rolfe, William JamesEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sanders, NormanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schadee, NoraAnnotationssecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seely, JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, H.H.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Spiekerman, JopAnnotationssecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Turner, Robert KeanAssociate Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vitkus, DanielEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Voeten, BertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Werstine, PaulEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wright, Louis B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zazo, Anna LuisaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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First words
Never tell me; I take it much unkindly
That thou, Iago, who hast had my purse
As if the strings were thine, shouldst know of this.
Trifles light as air
Are to the jealous confirmations strong
As proofs of holy writ;
O, beware, my lord, of jealousy!
It is the green-eyed monster, which doth mock
The meat it feeds on. That cuckold lives in bliss
Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger;
But O, what damned minutes tells he o'er
Who dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves!
Not poppy, nor mandragora,
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world,
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
Which thou owedst yesterday.
is an idle and most false imposition; oft got without merit
and lost without deserving.
Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing;
'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This work is for the COMPLETE Othello only. Do not combine abridgements, adaptations (graphic or otherwise), modernizations and simplifications (such as "Shakespeare Made Easy"), Cliffs Notes or similar study guides, or videorecordings of performances with this work. Please separate any that you find here.

As should go without saying, please also do not combine this with any other play or combination of plays, or any of its many adaptations (audio, video, reworking, etc.).
Norton Critical Editions contain a sigificant amount of commentary and additional material along with the core text, thus, they are considered separate works. Please do not combine with the play.
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Book description
[R.L. 8.4]
One of the most often staged of all of Shakespeare's plays, this is a tale of love and betrayal, secrets, passions, and intrigue. Psychology and wit pit strength and virtue against jealousy and evil agendas. The results leave no winners, only tragedy.
Haiku summary
Self-hating black man
Goes medieval on blonde wife
OJ's fav'rite book?

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743477553, Mass Market Paperback)

Each edition includes:

• Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play

• Full explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the text of the play

• Scene-by-scene plot summaries

• A key to famous lines and phrases

• An introduction to reading Shakespeare's language

• An essay by an outstanding scholar providing a modern perspective on the play

• Illustrations from the Folger Shakespeare Library's vast holdings of rare books

Essay by Susan Snyder

The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., is home to the world's largest collection of Shakespeare's printed works, and a magnet for Shakespeare scholars from around the globe. In addition to exhibitions open to the public throughout the year, the Folger offers a full calendar of performances and programs. For more information, visit www.folger.edu.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:38 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Folger Shakespeare Library is the world's leading center for Shakespeare studies. Each edition includes: freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play; full explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the text of the play; scene-by-scene plot summaries; a key to famous lines and phrases; an introduction to reading Shakespeare's language; an essay by an outstanding scholar providing a modern perspective on the play; illustrations from the Folger Shakespeare Library's vast holdings of rare books. Essay by Susan Snyder. The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., is home to the world's largest collection of Shakespeare's printed works, and a magnet for Shakespeare scholars from around the globe. In addition to exhibitions open to the public throughout the year, the Folger offers a full calendar of performances and programs.… (more)

» see all 53 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140714634, 0141012315

Yale University Press

An edition of this book was published by Yale University Press.

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Sourcebooks MediaFusion

An edition of this book was published by Sourcebooks MediaFusion.

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Recorded Books

2 editions of this book were published by Recorded Books.

Editions: 1456103261, 144987875X

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