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Shakespeare’s Othello – Part I

The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice is the second of the four great tragedies of Shakespeare (HamletOthelloKing Lear and Macbeth.) These are the first great tragedies since the Greeks. Only a man faced with conflict and doubt with the skill to write could write them. Shakespeare was in his dark and troubled time of life when he wrote these plays. Tragedy is a drama in which the principle conflict is between the hero and the metaphysical powers, the universe itself. The metaphysical forces win. The hero is broken, crushed, destroyed, through his own doing. The fall of the hero is not just a personal loss: when the hero falls, many fall with him. The tragedy of the individual becomes large. The warnings are these: if a great man can fall, so can we. We can also be crushed by someone else’s bad choice. Othello is a love tragedy. It is a story about disorder destroying order, about abject evil and its ravages in the world, the misuse of free will. Othello is the hero and Iago the villain. Both are destroyed. The essential thing to understand the play: a man and women in marriage become one flesh.

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