An evaluation of Othello in the context of Turkish Politics

Categories: William Shakespeare

Othello is one of the greatest tragedies of Shakespeare, which was written when he reached his maturity. Unlike his other tragedies, there is no struggle to take over the throne. That’s why it is more concerned with domestic issues such as love and hatred, jealousy and vengeance. The fundamental motivation of Iago is hate. What makes it different is that the manipulative language of Iago pushes other characters into a situation that they are unable to understand what others exactly mean or what they really are since there is a big gap because of the perception of reality which is understood in a different way by the characters.

Manipulating social consciousness by means of manipulation of information in our modern world has become a weapon with the widespread technological developments to alter people’s behavior. Our politicians and leaders, supposed to be the servants of our citizens trying to fulfill the wishes of people, are using manipulation to eradicate certain ideas in citizens’ minds and create new ideas in accordance with their desires.

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When Shakespeare lived, we can say that the people who lived in England is roughly composed of two classes: the aristocrats (or nobles) and the other people. Wealth, nobility and power are three primary distinctions between these two classes. Namely, aristocrats had all three. Similarly, our world now includes two classes: the politicians and the mass people. Doing politics is the source of making money, having an instrument to govern the people, being powerful and obtaining what you desire.

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Even though Othello is written after Hamlet, King Lear and Macbeth, it is one of Shakespeare’s most loved tragedies. Each of these tragedies play a vital role in the evaluation of modern politics. Despite the fact that all these four tragedies were written roughly four centuries ago, Othello still captivates modern society as its messages are composed of personal struggle, treachery, jealousy, vengeance, and deception. At the very beginning of the play, the Venetians are extremely in need of ‘’ the valiant Othello’’ as war is at hand and the Venetian army needs Othello’s experience to fight off the advancing Turks as he proves himself in other wars.

The war against the Turks takes place very shortly between the first and second acts. When Act 1 finishes, Othello is making preparations to go to war. However, at the very beginning of Act II, the war is over. The sudden defeat of Turks causes the victors land in Cyprus earlier than expected. By doing this, Shakespeare aims at sending message as to what we are about to come across as we witness a very quick war. Moreover, we are made to think that Othello is a story of peace and domesticity but not a military. In addition, we are also aware of the fact that the actions which will take place in the play may not be exactly the same what we are expecting. One of the key themes stated in the play is the idea of appearance. There is such a big gap between reality and appearance that shifting from military affairs to a domestic plot is another good example of how people are easily manipulated by appearances. Though Othello is a story of domesticity in terms of themes employed in the play, it includes many subjects that can be evaluated in terms of manipulation which are directly related to modern politics and politicians.

Manipulating Society

Manipulation means that ‘’ controlling someone or something to your own advantage, often unfairly or dishonestly [Cambridge Dictionary]. In other words, it means ‘’making someone think and behave exactly as you want them to, by skillfully deceiving or influencing them’’. Information is an important part of modern human life. Information is becoming a more significant element of modern life along with education and the way people interact with information today to a greater extent defines the level of their existence. Possession of information and education in 21st century determine a modern person’s status in society. Along with the sphere of education, information field determines the fields of labor and economy and influences the sphere of state politics. Manipulation of information and also manipulation of social consciousness in our age are becoming a technology of programming people’s behavior. Manipulating society one can destroy certain ideas in people’s minds and son their ruins create new ideas and fundamentals, for example of a new ideology. (Course Hero, n.d.) Despite living in 'the free world', there are very few free men and women walking around in our democracies. Very few indeed. This is because some men and women have a human failing that drives them to want to manipulate others for the sake of power. That manipulation has enslaved humanity throughout most of its history, and still presents the most ominous threat to democracy (Reality Maps, 2003). Considering the meaning of life or realizing that you live is a feature belonging to human being and man has always been in the centre of universe and tried to be in control of everything around him. To gain what he desires, control the people around him and manipulate them, he has done everything from manipulation to even violent murder.

Manipulation is the source of all the evils and it is a starting point to lead a society into a chaotic atmosphere so that it is easily diverted and then controlled. Almost everybody in the world thinks that we live in a democracy. Our politicians and leaders are supposed to be in the service of people fulfilling the needs and wishes of people by taking decisions for people so that they have better life conditions. There are many ways and methods of manipulation such controlling the media, fearing, repeating a lie, hiding the truth in a barrage of lies and so on. Controlling the media is one of the first and most significant steps as it helps us control information. Media ownership is the source of manipulating the people. You can easily manipulate people’s votes by using the media. Media ownership is quite important in manipulating the others. And the politicians who have the media such as newspaper, TV and most importantly the internet by skillfully using news technologies, control the media. The other way to control the media is doing favors for media proprietors. In this way you can manipulate the others. There are so many ways of fearing people such as fear of violence, fear of destitution, fear of ridicule, fear of disapproval etc… Fear is the best instrument in governmental and religious manipulation.

Politicians use fear to gain what they desire. They threaten people saying that if you do not vote that party, the country will be put into chaos. As a result, the economy will collapse and you will lose your job. Then your family and you will have to live in poverty. ‘’Never admit a lie – simply keep repeating it’’ One of the political parties in Turkey is always repeating a lie by denying any links to the PKK. But there are so many photos or videos of the deputies with the terrorists. They dig up soil and build huge tunnel to store explosives, hand grenades, bullets and remote bombing devices inside shelters. Then they claim that they will bring peace and restore brotherhood but go on killing the innocent people and even the babies in their swaddles. When it comes to tell lie, all political parties are very good at playing ostrich. They see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. Hiding the truth in a barrage of lies is another technique used by the politicians a lot. The lies that go along with the truthful piece of information spin that truth so that it is no longer any use.


Postmodernists often illustrates that chaos is insuperable; the artist has no confidence in himself, there is no solution. And playing within the chaos is the only option to be chosen. The idea of destruction, chaos and disruption are very important ideas in postmodernism. In the play, tragedy begins when people are unable to see or observe things as they are. And this is the starting point for manipulation. Because Iago shows such malicious intentions towards the people around him that he creates a chaotic end for everyone to get what he desires, secure his power and seek vengeance. In order that he can get what he wants, he reorders the events in a way that the reality and appearance become confusing for everyone. The simulacra that Bauldrillard refers to are signs of culture and media that create the percieved reality; he believed that society has become so reliant on simulacra that it has lost contact with the real world on which simulacra are based. There is no longer any distinction between reality and its representation; there is only the simulacrum. Baudrillard points to an number of phenomena to explain this loss of distinction between ‘’reality’’ and the similacrum. Contemporary media such as televisions, films, magazines, billboards and the internet are concerned not just with relaying information or stories but with interpreting our most private selves for us, making us approach each other and the world through the lens of these media images.

The distinction between media and reality has collapsed, and we now live in a ‘’reality’’ defined by images and representation – a state of simulacrum. Images refer to each other and represent each other as reality rather than some ‘pure’ reality that exist before the image represent it. (Felluga, 2011) In short, our sense of reality is now said to be utterly dominated by popular media images. There is no doubt that the fact that we can see the truth is really what the media shows to us. The reality generated by the media is the truth in us. ‘’ With a little web as this will I ensnare as great a fly as Cassio.’’ (Othello,II. 1. 164) Iago uses a manipulative language, the language of poison and plague. Iago has the ability to control the destiny of nearly everyone around him, although he is only one of the servants of Othello in military affairs. Iago entraps everyone in his evil scheme by concealing his intentions.

The people in his evil scheme are like ships driven away because of a storm or helpless insects in a spider’s web, as stated in Iago’s words. If characters had known Iago’s real intention and had the ability to understand the things as they were, they would have been able to escape from his evil trap. (HASHIMOTO, 2003) There is a deep gab between how the characters understand things and what things really are. Iago Awake! What, ho, Brabantio! Thieves! Thieves! Thieves! Look to your house, your daughter, and your bag! Thieves! Thieves!’’ We can easily see the objectification of Desdemona in the lines above. Iago does not hesitate to make her into one of Brabantio’s possessions instead of defining her as an individual in the society. ‘’ Iago swears he speaks the truth, or else I am a Turk!! Politicians also swear that they will always tell the truth and be in favor of others. As seen in the lines. Iago swears to tell the truth. He gets Roderigo’s money by promising to help him win over Destomana.


A politician has the ability to hide his real intentions so as to steer the people around him to obtain his goals. In the play, Iago has done everything to reach his aims from lies to causing people die around him even his wife. Shakespeare is very skillful at indicating the selfish nature of politics, which can be evaluated and applied to our modern society. Politicians takes drastic measures to steer and govern the society ranging from manipulation to even killing the innocent people. Even today, politicians tell lie, hide their real intentions to gain their trust, making the subjects of mendacity practicable to our modern society.


  1. Retrieved from Cambridge English Dictionary Online: Course Hero. (n.d.). Retrieved from Felluga, D. (2011, January 31).
  2. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  3. Reality Maps. (2003, September).
Updated: Apr 19, 2023
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An evaluation of Othello in the context of Turkish Politics. (2022, May 30). Retrieved from

An evaluation of Othello in the context of Turkish Politics essay
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