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Othello: Essay Topics

1) Some have said that the focus of Othello is not the title character, as is the case with Shakespeare's other great tragedies, Macbeth, King Lear, and Hamlet. Is Othello simply too one-dimensional to be considered a great tragic hero? Does his seemingly unrealistic gullibility lessen our interest in him and his suffering?

2) Why does Othello not investigate Iago's accusations? Why does Othello not seek his own proof of Desdemona's betrayal?

3) Samuel Taylor Coleridge once wrote that Iago's soliloquies are the "motive-hunting of motiveless malignity." Is this an accurate observation? Does Iago have a motive or motives for his hatred of Othello?

4) Explore the character of Desdemona. What does she represent in the play?

5) If you read the play closely you will see that not enough time could have elapsed on Cyprus for Desdemona to have committed adultery. Examine the problem of time in Othello and the possible dramatic reasons behind this unrealistic passage of time.

6) Discuss Othello's relationship with Desdemona. Does he truly love her?

7) Examine the female characters in the play. Do they share a common role in Othello?

8) Explore the issue of racism in Othello and relate it to the problems of racial hatred in Elizabethan England.


More Resources

 Daily Life in Shakespeare's London
 Life in Stratford (structures and guilds)
 Life in Stratford (trades, laws, furniture, hygiene)
 Stratford School Days: What Did Shakespeare Read?

 Games in Shakespeare's England [A-L]
 Games in Shakespeare's England [M-Z]
 An Elizabethan Christmas
 Clothing in Elizabethan England

 Queen Elizabeth: Shakespeare's Patron
 King James I of England: Shakespeare's Patron
 The Earl of Southampton: Shakespeare's Patron
 Going to a Play in Elizabethan London

 Ben Jonson and the Decline of the Drama
 Publishing in Elizabethan England
 Shakespeare's Audience
 Religion in Shakespeare's England

 Alchemy and Astrology in Shakespeare's Day
 Entertainment in Elizabethan England
 London's First Public Playhouse
 Shakespeare Hits the Big Time

Research Your Topic

 Othello: Complete Explanatory Notes
 Aesthetic Examination Questions on Othello
 Shakespeare's Iago Compared with the Original
 The Character and Motives of Iago

 Othello's Motives
 The Suffering and Murder of Desdemona
 Desdemona's Realism
 Desdemona's Dying Assertion

 Othello as Tragic Hero
 Stage History of Othello
 Othello: Plot Summary

 Iago's Power Over Othello
 Othello's Jealousy
 The Moral Enigma of Shakespeare's Othello

 Othello: Q & A
 Quotes from Othello
 How to Pronounce the Names in Othello

 Iago Character Introduction
 Othello Character Introduction
 Desdemona Character Introduction

 Othello's Suicide and Morality
 The Relationship Between Iago and Emilia
 Iago and Roderigo

 Roderigo, Emilia and Shakespeare's Secondary Characters
 Shakespeare's Use of Introductory Scenes
 The Play of Othello as a Whole: Its Rank Among Shakespeare's Plays

 Iago's Motives: The Relationship Between Othello and Iago
 The Problem of Time in Othello
 Shakespeare and Race: The Relationship Between Othello and Desdemona

 Shakespeare's Sources for Othello
 What is Tragic Irony?
 Seneca's Tragedies and the Elizabethan Drama
 Characteristics of Elizabethan Drama