• Submitted By: Jendaly
  • Date Submitted: 12/15/2013 6:15 AM
  • Category: English
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Othello – its Appeal

Let us examine the William Shakespeare drama Othello for the purpose of determining exactly what characteristics of the play are the outstanding ones which give it such universal appeal.

Othello would appear to have a beauty about it which is hard to match. Helen Gardner in “Othello: A Tragedy of Beauty and Fortune” touches on this beauty which enables this play to stand above the other tragedies of the Bard:

Among the tragedies of Shakespeare Othello is supreme in one quality: beauty. Much of its poetry, in imagery, perfection of phrase, and steadiness of rhythm, soaring yet firm, enchants the sensuous imagination. This kind of beauty Othello shares with Romeo and Juliet and Antony and Cleopatra; it is a corollary of the theme which it shares with them. But Othello is also remarkable for another kind of beauty. Except for the trivial scene with the clown, all is immediately relevant to the central issue; no scene requires critical justification. The play has a rare intellectual beauty, satisfying the desire of the imagination for order and harmony between the parts and the whole. Finally, the play has intense moral beauty. It makes an immediate appeal to the moral imagination, in its presentation in the figure of Desdemona of a love which does not alter ‘when it alteration finds’, but ‘bears it out even to the edge of doom’. (139)

The ability of the audience to identify with the characters in Othello– this is of primary importance. M.H. Abrams in The Norton Anthology of English Literature attributes the dramatist’s universality to his characters as well as to the relevance of his themes:

One preliminary document in the First Folio is by Shakespeare’s great rival, critic, and opposite, Ben Jonson. In it he asserts the superiority of Shakespeare not only to other English playwrights but to the Greek and Latin masters:

Triumph, my Britain, thou hast one to show

To whom all...

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