Othello (QPB Reader's Shakespeare)

by William Shakespeare

Other authorsPaul Bertram (Editor), Jon Roberts (Introduction)
Paperback, 1997




Quality Paperback Book Club (1997),


Othello, a Moorish general in the service of Venice, has married Desdemona, beautiful daughter of a Venetian Senator. But Iago, Othello's malignant ensign, is determined to destroy their happiness.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Smiley
Beware you are entering heresy: Not one of Bill's best. It was a drag to finsih, Iago's actions seem out of line with motivation, no great set speeches, few memorable lines and Othello's change of heart is too rapid. That said, Shakespeare was a working playwright and it is the academy that has enshrined all his work as great. The Folger Library edition was excellent.… (more)
LibraryThing member BookConcierge
This is perhaps Shakespeare’s darkest play – featuring characters that are flawed and damaged, but which completely captivate us. Our title character – Othello, the Moor - is a highly regarded general. As the play opens he has recently eloped with the lovely Desdemona, to the consternation of her father and others who were hopeful suitors. Egged on by Iago (one of literature’s most reviled villains), they accuse Othello of somehow bewitching Desdemona, but the couple successfully convinces everyone that their love is true and pure.

Iago is a true sociopath. Rules do not apply to him, and duplicity is second nature to him. His oily manner convinces everyone that he has only their own best interests at heart while he plants seeds of doubt everywhere, ensuring that everyone becomes suspicious and disheartened. Iago uses the other characters as his pawns some sort of game he plays for his own benefit. He particularly targets Othello, recognizes the chink in his armor is his relationship with Desdemona, and manages to turn this noble general into a homicidal, emotional wreck.

I do wonder how Othello, Cassio, and Roderigo (among others) can be so easily swayed by Iago. Othello, in particular, should be able to see through this smarmy false friend. I’m completely perplexed by Emilia’s role in this tragedy. How can she abet her husband’s evil plans? Is she really so clueless?

Shakespeare writes a true psychological drama, exploring the darkest human emotion and motivation.
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LibraryThing member bookworm12
Othello, a moor from Africa, is a well-loved and respected Venetian nobleman. After the beautiful Desdemona falls in love with him, the two wed in secret. Their blissful existence is thrown into chaos as Iago, Othello's personal attendant, begins to plant doubts of Desdemona’s faithfulness in Othello’s mind.

Iago is one of the most conniving and depraved characters I’ve ever read. His cold calculating nature is sociopathic. He feels that Othello has slighted him and sets his mind to destroying his life. He moves each pawn to further his plan, all the while maintaining his alleged devotion to Othello and poisoning his thoughts with rumors of jealousy. He does it in such a calm, unbothered way that it’s all the more disturbing.

The worst part of the whole things is that Othello is in the thralls of newly-wedded happiness. He and his wife Desdemona are so incredibly in love and then he acts as the tool for his own destruction. He is manipulated by someone else, but no one truly forces his hand. He allows himself to be persuaded to believe that worst about his wife and causes his own downfall by his lack of faith and trust.

I loved the character of Emilia. She’s Iago’s wife, but she’s also Desdemona’s hand maid. She asks as a conscience for the players, holding them accountable when they have committed a wrong. She stands up for her lady’s honor when others doubt it.

Othello pulls no punches when it comes to the issues it touches on. It deals with marital abuse, racism, trust, jealousy and more. It gives readers a lot to chew on and would be a great book to discuss. I’ve never seen this one performed live, but I’m sure it would be incredibly powerful.
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LibraryThing member john257hopper
I read this seminal tragedy for the first time in anticipation of seeing it next week at The Globe. I'm ashamed to say I have read comparatively little Shakespeare and this is only the sixth complete play I have read. It remains a classic exposition of values of racism, revenge, jealousy and repentance. There are comparatively few characters, which makes it easy to focus on the main four or five and really get under the skin of their motivations.… (more)
LibraryThing member crazyjerseygirl
I have read this play numerous times, and have seen it stage-acted once. Do you think it is wrong to love Iago? So what if I have a taste for the bad-boy? This is the best villian ever written and if you are a fan of genius villians and not those two-dementional types then read up. Goldfinger has noting on this guy.
LibraryThing member Nikkles
This is not my favorite Shakespeare play. I just find it so very sad. Sadder then the other tragedies. I can never get past Desdemona smothered to death. So, while this is great literature I simply cannot like it as it makes me too sad.
LibraryThing member jwhenderson
Othello is one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies. It stands beside Hamlet, Macbeth and Lear in this regard. Each of these works has its own 'personality' and in Othello this includes the prominence of the title character's antagonist. For it almost seems that this play could have been entitled Iago. Iago demonstrates a superior mind, coldly calculating and planning his actions to achieve his end, the usurpation of Othello. In this he appears to be completely evil. Othello, on the other hand, seems clueless and is easily manipulated. His innocence plays into the hands of Iago. There is much more in this complex drama, including two interesting and intelligent women in Desdemona and Emilia. Emilia stands out as a courageous woman who has been described by some as a "proto-feminist". The conflict between Iago and Othello is stark as Iago's schemes play out. It makes this one of Shakespeare's best plays.… (more)
LibraryThing member Girl_Detective
About this edition: Honigmann’s editing is clear and helpful. Useful glosses are provided for difficult or archaic usage as well as helpful notes on understanding some of the repeated themes and phrases of the text. As with most introductions, I think it should be read after, not before, as it refers to minutely to the play that it is more helpful when the play details are fresh. I particularly like the section on the history of the play’s performance, and how actors have played the major roles.

Additionally, Honigmann lays out the evidence for some of the major questions about the play: was Iago in love with Othello, how does the play deal with the passage of time, what is the right tone for Iago, and most important to the editor: is Othello Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy? Honigmann says yes. While the text of Hamlet may excel in poetry and Lear in pathos, both are often criticized as too long in performance. In performance, Othello’s “extraordinary momentum and the audience response it generates place it, in these respects, ahead of its nearest rivals, Hamlet and King Lear.”
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LibraryThing member rybeewoods
My first expereince in Shakespeare. I didn't know what to expect, but in the end I really enjoyed it. I was pleasently surprised.
LibraryThing member GirlFromIpanema
Accessible radio version of the acclaimed 2007/8 production of "Othello" (at Donmar Warehouse, London). Ewan McGregor as Iago lets you laugh out loud just to make you feel embarrassed that you even thought it was funny the next moment. I had some difficulties to "get" Chiwetel Ejiofor's Othello (to be honest, I still don't entirely get it, but then there's a reason to listen to it again!).
(Radio play recorded off BBC R3; also available from Donmar Warehouse.)
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LibraryThing member FrankJL
Perhaps Shakespeare's best romance tragedy.
LibraryThing member susanbevans
I read Othello in college and really enjoyed it! Even wrote a ten page paper on the motives of Iago. I have actually never "met" a Shakespeare play that I didn't like.
LibraryThing member wispywillow
Not bad. Shakespeare once again shows his ability to take an age-old story and give it the Bard's Twist. However, I didn't like this story as much as Macbeth--where the magnificent Lady Macbeth helps push her husband to his crimes--nor did I like it as much as Hamlet--where the deep psychological issues rooted in Hamlet's character make him come to life in so many ways.

Othello is an interesting character, but lacking in character and nobility.
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LibraryThing member jpsnow
It's hard to review Shakespeare in a way that's worthy. I'll simply add my observation: so basic and so base.
LibraryThing member Orix_Bluewave
This is a sad story.
Everyone in this story is very poor.
Without crying, you can't read this book.
LibraryThing member 391
Iago is possibly the slimiest villain ever penned, and Othello will always hold a place in my heart as the most tragic of Shakespeare's plays. The inevitability of the conclusion, the senselessness of all the deaths...it is such a beautiful, heartbreaking play. I think it's also one of the most readable, as well - the language is heightened, but understandable to a modern day audience, and the pure passion of the words is easily parse-able.… (more)
LibraryThing member Vinman225
Loved this play from start to finish, thanks largely in part to Iago. His near flawless scheme against his general was absolutely brilliant. Shakespeare's language, is as eloquent as it is insightful, but that's unsurprising. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good tale of betrayal.
LibraryThing member BeeQuiet
One of my favourite Shakespeare plays. Had the privilege of playing Desdemona; being in a Shakespeare play really gives you such a feel for what he's trying to convey. As is frequently noted, his messages and metaphors never seem to fade with time. Beautiful.
LibraryThing member SoonerCatholic
Setting: This play reflects on the love Othello has for his wife on the island of Cyprus

Plot: Othello's jealous servant Iago schemes to come between the Moor and Desdemona and nearly succeeds.

Characters: Othello (protagonist)- a Moor, general in Venice; Desdemona- Othello's wife; Iago (antagonist)- Othello's scheming servant; Cassio- a soldier

Symbols: the handkerchief

Characteristics: a major tragedy

Response: I understood better the performance by reading the play. I also appreciated Shakespeare's clever insights into human nature through all his characters especially Iago.
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LibraryThing member Czrbr
Book Description: Ardnamona Publishers. Grade A.
LibraryThing member HankIII
Whew!I've read this drama at least 3 times; in fact, I teach it every fall semester.I doubt my review will shed anymore life on this tragedy, so I'll go for the gist of it, and how I relate it to 16 year old I-Pod/internet/cellphone/sparknotes/cliff notes instilled with apathy and teenaged-drama inclined students:Iago is just plain wicked, amorally so; he has a real beef about Othello, a well-respected General who has passed him over for a lieutenant's position in favor of Cassio, who has very little if any military experience. Of course, such a choice flies into the face of Iago, and lights the fuse of his quest to destroy Othello.Iago employs that ol'human shortcoming of jealousy, and he does it very well. Iago knows that Othello is open, trusting, loyal, and faithful. These qualities Othello demonstrates to his friends as well as to Desdemona, his wife.From there Iago creates havoc at every turn; you would think early on after setting up Cassio in a brawl with a governor, resulting in Cassio losing his position, and Iago replaces him, that it would end all there, but noooooooooo! That's not good enough for Iago; he has to go to great lengths to manipulate all of those around him to bring Othello to a jealous pile of mush.Anyway, I think this tragedy is very revelant about Othello's racial difference among white society even by today's standards, and how instead of seeing the goodness in others we are only too inclined to not trust even if we have good qualities. Also, there are some real literary gems like "the beast with two backs" and other sexual innuendo which appeals to 16 year old hormonal instincts.Usually of course, I take the easy way out--since my students'attention spans are only geared toward the latest edition of Guitar Hero, I show the 1995 film version with Laurence Fishbourne and Kenneth Branaugh if the students find the actual study of the play or me too much.… (more)
LibraryThing member mkoroleff
Another one of Shakespeare's most popular plays, Othello is a tragedy that centers itself on the life of a Moorish general in the Venetian army and his wife, Desdemona. Its themes of racism, love, jealousy, and betrayal make for strong emotional responses from readers. While students may not necessarily be able to identify with the characters themselves, the themes are still current and applicable to teens in that young love and relationships in high school often include jealousy and betrayal. If students can make emotional connections with the characters, chances are they will read with more enthusiasm in order to find how their connections may grow or fade.… (more)
LibraryThing member TakeItOrLeaveIt
possibly my favorite Shakespeare play. betrayal. destruction. suicide. what more could you need? oh the epitome of artsy fartsy Mr. Shakespeare!
LibraryThing member Ayling
Read this for A-Level English and really enjoyed it. I love the story of Othello - my favourite Shakespeare as of yet.Iago is one of the best villains I have ever read - I absolutely loathe him but he is so fascinating. People who can manipulate you psychologically like that, tap into people's weaknesses and use them against people - truly very fascinating.… (more)
LibraryThing member becskau
This is Shakespeare's famous play Othello. The story of Othello is well known - the fall of a famous war general through manipulation and jealousy. I think that this would be affective in the classroom because I believe it is beneficial for students to study shakespeare - both institutionally and also for larger purposes of person. I think that studying a text from shakespeare forces students to apply themselves to language in a way they may not be familiar with. I would chose Othello specifically because I think it also brings up the important role of the "other" in literature.… (more)


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