“A strong story is only possible with strong characters.”

In the context of the Elizabethan era, Shakespeare portrays his sixteenth century play Othello, as a story about the fatal flaws of his strong characters Othello, Iago and Desdemona. Through various language techniques, Shakespeare highlights the play’s universal themes of jealousy and revenge. By exploring the social context, racism and the roles of women, a strong story is produced.

In the play, the protagonist Othello is a black man who is portrayed as a powerful character. This was ironic considering the social context of the era, as racism was prevalent in the sixteenth century. Othello was repeatedly referred to as “the Moor”, a “Barbary horse” and an “old black ram” in Scene I, Act I, as opposed to his name. All these nicknames denigrate his reputation and character as they liken Othello to a savage or barbarian from his native land, despite his high status from achieving the rank of general. His status was more impressive because of the stigma attached to having coloured skin. This was evident in Act 1, Scene 2, “tis yet to know -/which, when I know that boasting is an honour, / I shall provulgate.” Othello acknowledges his power, displaying both his confidence and dominance as a strong character.

Another central concern of Othello was the vice of jealousy. When Iago undermines Desdemona’s purity, Othello becomes jealous. In order to uphold his reputation, Othello was determined to stay strong, declaring, “I am no jealous man”. However, Othello’s jealousy is displayed in his trail of repetitive questions in Act 3, Scene 3, of “Why dost though ask?”, “Why of thy thought, Iago?” and “What dost thou mean?” Shakespeare’s use of repetition suggests Othello’s apparent mistrust of Desdemona.

The role of women in society is a key issue that was examined in Othello. In the Elizabethan era, women’s lives were subject to patriarchal constraints. The idealized representation of women were meek and...