An analysis of the play Othello reveals it to be a tragedy: from the beginning of this play to its end, the stage is set for the eventual downfall of Othello, the main protagonist, at the hands of none other than Iago, a man who he trusts and considers a friend. The tragedy that can be observed in this play is observed through human nature and it is possible that Shakespeare’s intention was to show that despite the differences in race, all human beings are of the same nature and display the same characteristics. In this play, Shakespeare tackles subjects such as racism, love, hate, jealousy, pride, trickery, and persecution to develop his characters as well as to make the audience see these characteristics in them.
In this play, although it is not blatantly displayed, is the theme of persecution which eventually leads to and is a part of the tragedy. According to Hunt (162 – 184), Shakespeare depiction of persecution in this play is based on racial stereotypes that depict the Venetians as a peace loving and courteous people in opposition to the violent and warlike tendencies of the Turks and the Moors. It is because of this that the Venetian senate decides to bring in Othello, a Moor and an outsider, to help them fight their wars against the Turks. It is further seen that it is difficult for outsiders to fit into Venetian society due to the fact that despite Othello having served Venice for a very long time, he has not established any strong personal relationships with any of those around him. If he had known these people well, then he would not have been swayed by the lies that he was told by Iago, a man who he trusted blindly. It can further be said that his blind trust of Iago was an attempt to fit into Venetian society and it is quite possible that Iago was the first Venetian to ever listen to him concerning things which were not military in nature. It is against this background that the tragedy of the play is set because Iago uses Othello’s feeling of being an outsider as well as the stereotype of his race being violent to plot his downfall. In this play, according to Vitkus (145 – 176) there is a focus on the differences in age and color between Othello and his wife Desdemona and Shakespeare does this to increase Othello’s seclusion from the society of Venice and to show his susceptibility towards Iago’s manipulation. Othello had spent many years on the battlefield and had therefore not had the time to indulge in normal society and to develop the skills necessary for understanding and surviving within it. His wife was much younger than him and this may have made him feel inadequate due to his thinking that she may have preferred somebody younger. Furthermore, she is the daughter of a senator, meaning that he had married way above his social station in Venice and this only because he was a great general and not because he was regarded as a Venetian, since despite his lengthy service to it, he was still not a native of the city. Sid Smith in his 1995 article in the Chicago Tribune