Othello by William Shakespeare | Summary & Analysis

William Shakespeare's Othello explained with play and scene summaries in just a few minutes!

Professor Bradley Greenburg of Northeastern Illinois University provides an in-depth analysis of the plot, themes, characters, symbols, and motifs in William Shakespeare's play Othello.

Othello, written in 1603-4, centers on a mysterious conflict between the Moorish protagonist by the same name as the play and his malevolent ensign Iago. Othello of Venice, Italy is a passionate soldier and lover who woos the noble and good-hearted Desdemona.

Sadly, Othello remains oblivious to the plots of mastermind Iago, who is puppeteering schemes involving all the plays other characters. "Honest Iago" manipulates his friends and confidants at every turn, staying one step ahead of them and turning them against one another. By the end of the play, Iago has trapped and killed almost all the characters in his web of lies.

Did you know? The character Othello wasn't played by a black actor for more than two centuries after the play was written.

And consider these common phrases first invented by Shakepeare in Othello: "forgone conclusion," "jealousy is the green-eyed monster," and "wear my heart upon my sleeve."

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