It is generally accepted that William Shakespeare created his tragedy Othello between 1603 and 1604. In reality, determining the year is impossible. As a result, experts rely on the debut of Othello as evidence for their educated guess.
Plays were originally intended to be staged and performed as soon as completed during the era of William Shakespeare. The director’s copy included dialogues and stage directions, which were only to be used by actors.
The debate about when and how Othello was composed continues. As a result, it’s tough to pinpoint the exact date Othello was written. We do know, however, that the play first appeared on November 1, 1604. This data allows academics to conclude that Othello was published as a book in 1622 by Thomas Walkley in either 1603 or 1604.
Othello debuted at the court of King James I. The premiere took place in the banqueting chamber at Whitehall, where it was known as The Moor of Venice.
The events in the play take place in Cyprus during the 1570-1573 war between Christian Venice and the Muslim Ottoman Empire, which were some of the steps toward a larger struggle involving Christian Venice and the Islamic Ottoman Empire. Cyprus was a Venetian outpost that fell victim to a Turkish attack in 1570 and was subsequently captured. In Othello, Shakespeare emphasizes the significance of this historic event:
“When we consider
The importancy of Cyprus to the Turk,
And let ourselves again but understand,
That as it more concerns the Turk than Rhodes,
We must not think the Turk is so unskilful
To leave that latest which concerns him first,
Neglecting an attempt of ease and gain,
To wake and wage a danger profitless.”
(Act 1, scene 3).
The story of the play is focused on its two main figures:
Othello, a Moorish general serving in the Venetian army
Iago, Othello’s junior officer.
The plot was taken from Un Capitano Moro, an Italian novel by Giraldi Cinthio. Shakespeare made the play more dramatic by adding new elements and compressing the action to today’s English public’s standards.
According to legend, Shakespeare wanted to impress King James I, who ascended to the throne in 1603, with this plot. The king was interested in Turkish culture and despised witchcraft. As a result, Othello dominated the monarch’s heart. However, the playwright’s primary themes and issues are rooted in Elizabethan times.
Othello is a drama that explores the consequences of misunderstanding and prejudice. The play also considers themes and issues in philosophy:
Othello, written more than four hundred years ago, continues to be relevant to today’s public. As a result, the play is frequently seen all around the world. The parts of Othello and Iago have become milestones for many actors. The most renowned “Otellos” is Ira Aldridge, Paul Robeson, Richard Burton, William Marshall, and Laurence Olivier.
The tale has been the source of numerous creative, musical, and cinematic adaptations. One of the most critically praised movies is Orson Welles’ adaptation of the play. It won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1952, as well as Oliver Parker’s 1995 film adaptation. According to reports, it was also the first blockbuster to feature an African American actor in the Othello part.
Back in the Elizabethan era, no one would be caught dead reading scripts on their phone. Paperback editions weren’t on people’s coffee tables with pages turned down.
Plays were meant to be performed rather than read by the general public. Consider how rarely television programs and films are published word-for-word in book format. The same may be said for William Shakespeare’s Othello, which was never intended to be read aloud.
The absence of technology and a low value on printing Shakespeare’s works in the 16th century make dating them difficult, but we may make educated guesses. It will be worth our time to look into the time period and publication date because they can help us understand the deeper meaning and cultural impact of Othello.