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Berellini Giacomo, Speroni Elisa, Verdelli Matilde, Zappacenere Davide


written by William Shakespeare



1. Plot

2. Historical context and setting

3. Characters

4. Analysis

5. Inspiration and comparison

Othello manipulated by the deceitful Iago, becomes convinced of Desdemona's infidelity. this moment marks a turning point in the tragedy, leading to the tragic downfall of the characters involved.

Key moments

Shakespeare’s tragedy has one main distinction – the main character has an issue that leads to his downfall.


The latter part of the play is set on the island of Cyprus, which is under Venetian control. Cyprus serves as a military outpost and becomes the site of much of the action in the play's second half.

The play begins in Venice, a prosperous and cosmopolitan city-state in Renaissance Italy which was a significant maritime power. It is where Othello resides and serves as a military leader for the Venetian army.

The setting of William Shakespeare's "Othello" primarily takes place in two main locations:

Shakespeare set Othello against the epic backdrop of an ongoing religious conflict between Christian Republic of Venice and the Muslim Ottoman Empire. The action of Othello likely takes place one year after the Ottoman conquest of Cyprus, during the Battle of Lepanto. The Venetian’s victory helped restore Christian control of the region, and in leading the charge against the Muslim fleet

However, Othello’s victory also enflames Iago’s jealousy. The continued instability in the play’s domestic drama may be said to mirror the tensions between the Venetians and Ottomans, which continued well into the eighteenth century.

Othello was written after 1601 and before 1604. It is a reflection of Elizabethan times but with universal themes.


He convinces Cassio to ask Desdemona for help regaining his recently lost post as officer and plants the strawberry handkerchief Othello had given to Desdemona on Cassio, which leads Othello to suspect her of infidelity. When his wife Emilia tells the truth of his plotting to Othello, Iago kills her.

Iago, an ensign, but also the villain, claims he is seeking revenge on Othello for promoting Cassio instead of him, but his evil, manipulative actions are without justification. He tells Senator Brabantio of Othello’s secret marriage with Desdemona.


Othello is a Moorish general in the Venetian army, who is respected, but often treated as an outsider. Othello falls in love with Desdemona and they secretly marry. During the turkish campaign, Iago manipulates Othello and his insecurities to make him think his wife has been unfaithful with Cassio. Othello orders Iago to kill Cassio, and he goes to smother Desdemona while she is asleep. When Othello learns the truth is too late, he wounds Iago and in despair, kills himself.


Main characters

A jealous suitor of Desdemona. Young, rich, and foolish, and he’s convinced that Iago will help him win Desdemona’s hand. Frustrated as Othello marries her and takes her to Cyprus, Roderigo is desperate enough to agree to help Iago kill Cassio after he pointed out that he could be another potential rival for Desdemona.


other important characters


He is noble and loyal and he's promoted to lieutenant in the Venetian forces by his general Othello. In Cyprus, Iago gets him drunk and incites Roderigo to fight with him over Desdemona. Othello blames Cassio for the fight and then strips Cassio of his recently conferred status. Cassio is convinced by Iago to ask Desdemona for help in regaining it. Iago manipulates Cassio's friendship with Desdemona to make it seem that they're having an affair which leads Othello to order to Iago his murder. He remains wounded.

In Othello, each of the men, except for Roderigo, has a woman that stands behind and cares for them. With a careful analysis of them, we can see that much of the tragedy could have been avoided if only the men would have given them a chance to speak. The men clearly show disrespect for the women in the story. Shakespeare wrote this play to illustrate the injustices done to women during his time, among other political messages that are intertwined into the plot.

A courtesan, or prostitute, in Cyprus. Bianca’s favorite customer is Cassio, who teases her with promises of marriage.



Her caring nature leads her to innocently agree to help Cassio, just as she naively wonders the causes of Othello’s mistrust. She continues to proclaim her innocence, even when publicly struck by Othello, and later on her deathbed as he smothers her.

She is Desdemona's handmaid and Iago's wife, who regularly mistreats and humiliates her. He convinces her to take Desdemona’s handkerchief. When Othello questions her about Desdemona's guilt, she defends her and suspects that someone else is manipulating him. When she finds Othello killing Desdemona and discovers her husband’s role in the plotting, she refuses to stay silent – which results in Iago murdering her.

Daughter of the Venetian senator Brabantio, falls in love with Othello and marries him in secret. When her father finds out, he disowns her. She follows her husband on his campaign to Cyprus, where Iago manipulates Roderigo, Cassio and Othello through their love for her and resulting jealousy.

The tragedy of the women in othello



The danger of isolation

Military heroism vs love

Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work.The main ones in Othello tragedy are the following:

  • The Incompatibility of Military Heroism & Love;
  • The Danger of Isolation;
  • Jealousy;
  • Deception and treachery;
  • Justice, often linked with the themes of power and privilege.
Briefly explained on the opposite page

Main themes in othello

Characters seek justice tainted by prejudice and personal vendettas. Notions of justice become entangled with themes of power and privilege.

Jealousy drives central conflicts, fueling resentments and suspicions and leading to irrational and destructive behavior.

Isolation on the island of Cyprus amplifies internal conflicts. leading to self-destruction of ghe characters and tragic outcomes.

Othello's military background shapes his views on marriage and societal acceptance and leads to personal turmoil and eventual downfall.

“I think thou dost; And, for I know thou’rt full of love and honesty, And weigh’st thy words before thou givest them breath, Therefore these stops of thine fright me the more.”

“’Tis pitiful; but yet Iago knows That she with Cassio hath the act of shame A thousand times committed; Cassio confess’d it: And she did gratify his amorous works With that recognizance and pledge of love Which I first gave her; I saw it in his hand: It was a handkerchief, an antique token My father gave my mother.”

“That handkerchief Did an Egyptian to my mother give; She was a charmer, and could almost read The thoughts of people: she told her, while she kept it, ‘Twould make her amiable and subdue my father Entirely to her love, but if she lost it Or made gift of it, my father’s eye Should hold her loathed and his spirits should hunt.”

Symbolism and Irony

Language plays a central role in Shakespeare's "Othello," emphasizing its power to drive character development, plot progression, and thematic exploration. Unlike conventional use, in this tragedy, language serves as a force of action, shaping events and ultimately leading to tragedy. Othello's downfall is attributed to his vulnerability to Iago's manipulative rhetoric, highlighting the ability of words to deceive and manipulate. Furthermore, we can notice the evolution of Othello's speech, from composed eloquence to fragmented outbursts, mirroring his internal turmoil and tragic trajectory. Shakespeare's masterful command of language emerges as a primary tool for dramatic expression and emotional resonance in this tragedy.

The usage of language


Like many of his plays, Othello wasn’t entirely created from Shakespeare’s imagination. He borrowed heavily from an Italian novella called Un Capitano Moro (A Moorish Captain) by Giovanni Battista Giraldi (also known by his pen name Cinthio) and written in 1565. Shakespeare compressed the action into the space of a few days and set it against the backdrop of military conflict.


In terms of race issues, some power structures, and the idea that the white girl is the ultimate prize, "The Tempest" has certain similarities.

"King Lear" also delves into themes of betrayal, manipulation, and the consequences of rash decision-making, much like "Othello."

"Hamlet" in its exploration of the human psyche and the destructive nature of unchecked emotions.

"Macbeth", which also explores themes of ambition, jealousy, and the corrupting influence of power.

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