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Othello

by William Shakespeare
368 pages, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by Jeanne

An interesting play with a suitably grim look on adultery, but a good deal of sexual content.

Plot

When Othello, the Moorish general of the forces in Venice, disregards his ensign Iago as a choice for promotion, he earns the man's hatred. In revenge, Iago forms a plot to make Othello believe that his wife, Desdemona, has been unfaithful to him.

Morality

Morality doesn't play a very prominent role in this play except for the obvious evil of Iago. There are basic laws of right and wrong, kept by Othello and broken by Iago.

Spiritual Content

None.

Violence

A murder takes place. Othello is a general in the army.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Wine is drunk; there are brief references to drunkenness.

Sexual Content

A lot of it. The story centers around Iago's plot to make Othello believe his wife unfaithful, and the play begins with Othello and Desdemona's elopement. Cassio, whom Iago picks to be the supposed offending party, has a mistress. Sexual references are made here and there throughout the story dealing with Iago's plot, though none are graphic.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

Exclamations that take God's name in vain appear occasionally. Othello calls his wife a "wh**e" after he has been made to believe she has been unfaithful to him.

Conclusion

"Othello" is a well-written tragedy with interesting characters. Othello's character was somewhat on the naive side, though, and sparked annoyance toward the middle as he began to believe Iago's tale. The sexual references are not graphic, but always present.

On the upside, "Othello" does not have the bawdy humor encountered in many of Shakespeare's comedic plays, the sexuality all being taken seriously, with exception to the presence of Cassio's mistress. Adultery is definitely frowned upon throughout the play.

Fun Score: 4.5
Values Score: 3
Written for Age: adult

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