A-Z Shakespeare: Othello

“Jealous souls will not be answered so;
They are not ever jealous for the cause,
But jealous for they are jealous: ’tis a monster
Begot upon itself, born on itself.”

William Shakespeare

Awesomeness: 9/10

Because…this is undoubtedly one of Shakespeare’s best plays. It simply soars in its last act, its pacing, its characterisation, its plot all coming together into a breathtakingly tragic litany of loss and betrayal. Also Iago made my brain do caps-lock expletives. A lot.

Colour: Red

Date: c.1603

Events: Othello, a Moor, is a general with high status in Venice – think Coriolanus but without the contempt. For reasons which are unclear, his servant Iago decides to ruin his life. He slowly (and falsely) convinces Othello that his new wife Desdemona has been unfaithful with his other servant Cassio. Othello is understandably upset and tells Iago to kill Cassio. Othello murders Desdemona; Iago’s wife Emilia rushes in and reveals the truth; Iago kills her; Othello kills himself; and Iago is dragged off to be ‘orribly tortured. Curtain.

First line: “Tush! Never tell me; I take it much unkindly”

Genre: Tragedy

High point: The bit in Act 3 Scene 3 where Othello threatens Iago with eternal damnation if he’s lying.

Interesting fact: Othello is one of the four great tragedies ascribed to Shakespeare; the others are Hamlet, King Lear and Macbeth.

Joke: “I know not where he lodges, and for me to devise a lodging and say he lies here or he lies there, were to lie in mine own throat.”

Killed: Roderigo, one of Desdemona’s admirers; Desdemona; Emilia; Othello.

Laughed at: A random clown, as usual.

Musical: Yes; Iago sings while pretending to be drunk (hilarious), and Desdemona sings a gratuitously sad song about willows when Othello is being mean to her.

Number of scenes: 15 spread over five acts (unusually short for Shakespeare).

Obscurity: 3/10

Place: Venice

Quote: “Beware, my lord, of jealousy;/It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock/The meat it feeds on.”

Role I’d play: Emilia. She gets to shout at Iago. And Desdemona is just too nice to be interesting.

Stolen from “A Moorish Captain” by random Italian guy Cinthio.

Time: probably around Shakespeare’s


Voiced in my head by: Ewan McGregor as Iago. Don’t ask me why.

Would I see it in a theatre? Hell, yes.

X: The Tenth Line: “I know my price, I am worth no worse a place”

“Yes? Hello? What?” (The Snappy Quip): “The robb’d that smiles steals something from the thief.”

Z: The Last Line: “This heavy act with heavy heart relate.”

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