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Tuesday, 16 February 2016

The theme of Sexuality in Othello

Sexuality: Othello stands out among Shakespeare's works as the most troublingly sexual of all plays. Indeed, it is the issue of sex that causes the downfall of both Othello and Desdemona. In the opening scene, Iago and Roderigo awaken Brabantio to inform him of Desdemona's elopement. Their language is obscene and racist: "An old black ram / Is tupping your white ewe," Iago shouts, "Your daughter / and the Moor are making the beast with two backs."Further, Shakespeare calls attention to the nuptial night between Othello and Desdemona by having it interrupted several times, first in Venice when Othello is called to the Senate and later in Cyprus when Cassio stabs Montano. This serves to produce extreme sexual tension; in the scenes shared by Othello and Desdemona, their language is highly charged with interrupted desire. For Othello, thoughts of sexual infidelity are also at the heart of his total disintegration. After murdering Desdemona, the thoughts of her supposed promiscuity continue to eat at Othello. "Iago knows t hat she with Cassio hath the act of shame / A thousand times committed," Othello says in his own defense. The fear of cuckoldry runs deep in many of Shakespeare's plays; yet in most plays it is a matter of joke and play. In Othello, however, Shakespeare demonstrates how such fear, when attached with deeper issues of sexuality, can turn tragic.
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