Review: Othello

Posted 15 August, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

By: William Shakespeare
Format/Source: eBook; my copy

A popular soldier and newly married man, Othello seems to be in an enviable position. And yet, when his supposed friend sows doubts in his mind about his wife’s fidelity, he is gradually consumed by suspicion. In this powerful tragedy, innocence is corrupted and trust is eroded as every relationship is drawn into a tangled web of jealousies.

Another classic tragedy by Shakespeare that I often heard about but never studied at any point in school. I knew the vague details about what it was about but yeah, never ventured to read it for myself until now. Contains some spoilers ahead along with, err, some strong language (sorry, too many feels while reading this)

This book is part of the William Shakespeare Reading Challenge 2014 that I am participating in.

Othello was a fascinating play, probably because of the way that Iago was able to manipulate characters and steer events throughout the story. At first, I was like “Oh, wow, he’s such a bastard,” playing Othello and the other soliders in his retinue towards his own ends (which, btw, I sort of missed it: did he ever mentioned exactly why he hated Othello so much? He hates him so much that he’s bent on destroying Othello’s happiness and reputation rather than confronting him face-to-face). And yet as the play moves along, my irritation for his manipulations grew to the point that, yeah, the guy’s a shit starter. The deaths he brings out as a result of all of his manipulations was just argh! And all because he was able to gain their confidences and their trust…At the same time it’s interesting to see how he was able to do all of that, and yet not be able to face someone head-on in his hate/whatever you want to call it: he stabs Rodrigo and Cassio in the dark, he stabs his wife Emilia in the back, runs away when people are finally on to him…He’s quite cowardly in that respect.

As an aside, I was a little perplexed while reading this play because for some reason I imagined Tom Hiddleston in the role of Iago. Then I realised that the reason why I imagined him as that particular character was because played Loki in the Marvel movies and I sort of linked Loki, god of mischief, on par with Iago…but unlike Loki, Iago has this maleficient streak that Loki (for the most part) lacks.

I really felt bad for Desdemona, she really had no idea that Othello was being played; she just wanted to help Cassio out. I’m glad that Emilia was able to expose Iago before her end. As for Othello, on the one hand I felt bad for him because Iago really screwed him over because not only does he paint Desdemona in such a bad light, but in the process strikes into his very reputation, bringing out the worst in him, and then revealing it to others at the worst time. At the same time, he’s got quite a temper and streak of jealousy that’s pretty ugly; much as he was being played by Iago, that was not cool the way treated Desdemona 🙁 Not to mention he couldn’t give Desdemona the benefit of the doubt–she is his wife, after all! I found him rather thick-headed with his trust in Iago so I wasn’t too upset over his fate; that scene when he confronts Desdemona in their bedroom left me all “He’s going to kill you, Desdemona, get out!” D=

Overall, I’m glad that I finally got around to reading Othello. Not my favourite tragedy, but it definitely provoked a lot of emotion from me while reading. I don’t think I could ever watch a stage adaptation of this, if only because I’d be squirming in my seat and squeaking “Noooooo” the whole time 😛 Nonetheless it was an interesting play with a lot of implications for all of the characters involved.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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2 Responses to “Review: Othello”

    • You know, that’s very true (and that’s probably the last thing I need because Iago is definitely on my list of characters I have no sympathy for, lol) 😛

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