Author: William Shakespeare
The greatest Shakespeare’s creation: Othello
Presenting a very accurate transposition of Giraldi Chino’s novel “The Venetian Moor,” Shakespeare’s tragedy nevertheless is radically different from its original source in one main thing. And this thing is the nature of its protagonist.
Chino’s Moor, instigated by the machinations of his Ensign (in the story only Desdemona has a personal name), insidiously kills his wife, and does it not by himself, but using the services of his Ensign in order to avoid suspicion. Even before the court, he denies the atrocity committed by him.
Using the already existing plot, Shakespeare transforms it in such a way that an ordinary adventurous criminal story acquires features of a high tragedy of the spirit. Instead of telling the history of a crime, Shakespeare wrote a story of a man different from other people not only in the color of his skin but also in his mental qualities such as honesty, directness and childlike credulity. The love between him and Desdemona is natural because she also possesses all these qualities; they are as close to each other as Romeo and Juliet or the Macbeth couple. Othello is a brave warrior, an unconquerable general and at the same time a naive child, unaware of the existence of such human qualities as baseness, treachery, hypocrisy, and not admitting the possibility of deceit. Because of this he so easily believes in Iago’s tales about the betrayal of his faithful lieutenant Cassio and the unfaithfulness of his beloved wife, Desdemona. He can not live with this feeling and this knowledge, pretending, he is not able to spy on his wife all the time.
Destructive Power of Trust
Othello is trusting, however, he is biased: he soon refuses to trust Desdemona and firmly trusts Iago. Othello is not jealous by nature, but it did not prevent him from becoming a symbolical name. The seed of jealousy quickly grows in his soul, which is possible only in a favorable environment. This is promoted by his unbridled temperament and wild imagination which reveal the powerful influence of the instinct, and the instability of sublime ideas. When Othello felt that Desdemona was an earthly and not heavenly creature, that she was a woman with female interests and weaknesses, then in his imagination she quickly started changing her essence and from an embodied virtue turned into a devil with an angelic appearance,- an evil especially dangerous, that should be eliminated in the name of good.
The impact of brutal experience weakens Othello’s resistance to malicious intentions and machinations surrounding him, destroys his faith in humanity, increases the bitterness of loss, and foments wild feelings. Thus the noble Moor starts to succumb to the mean Iago, who reduces everything to animal instincts; he begins to adopt Iago’s logic and manner of speech. It is impossible to overcome obstacles, to solve the new problems that Othello faced, preserving that happy sanity with which he overcame Brabantio’s resistance. Othello can not adapt to the new conditions: he does not have the “maturity” to master them. He continues to think dogmatically and comes to reckless pedantry under the circumstances that require a broad view, sober flexibility, courageous tact, strong-willed restraint, and shrewd confidence.
Murder for the Sake of Honor
Being sure that Desdemona has deceived him, Othello changes drastically: his tenderness turns into rudeness, and gullibility into suspicion. He sees deception in her every word and gesture because he never previously thought of it. The only way he can get rid of this doubt is the decision to which he comes. It is a murder of Desdemona. But, having accomplished it, Othello learns that Desdemona was innocent, and that they both fell victims to a monstrous intrigue so skillfully woven by Iago. Othello speaks of himself as an honest murderer, and these words are the key to the murder he committed. He was a man for whom honor was paramount; he could not exist alongside vice, and could not allow dishonesty to go unpunished. Realizing all the horror of his deed, he kills himself.