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Othello - Universality and Relevance

             For a text to be successful, it must be universal and stand the test of time. How has the playwright achieved universality and relevance?.
             Shakespeare is not only perceptive in his representation of human nature but also is highly adept in presenting complex, multi-faceted and credible characters that stand the test of time. William Shakespeare's "Othello" (1604), a Jacobean play which follows the Aristotelian model of a tragedy, is highly acclaimed in modern society despite the contextual change of four centuries. The "tragic flaw" in Othello's character, comprised of more than a single flaw; naiveté, jealousy and pride, are universal relationship issues that allow individuals to empathise with.
             The inability to discern facades from reality finally results in moral degradation for Othello. The Elizabethan era leading into the Jacobean era was a period of espionage and deceit due to the political turmoil caused by the heirless throne. The pure universal trait naiveté in human nature is first exposed through the characterization 'The Moor is of a free and open nature' spoken in Iago's soliloquy foreshadows potential exploitation as Othello is too trusting for his own good. Iago paradoxically claims 'I am not what I am' revealing his deceptive nature and relates to the oxymoron 'divinity of hell' suggesting his correlation with the Devil and deep satisfaction in evil doing. The dramatic irony in 'my ancient [Iago], a man he is of honesty and trust' a view Othello had, influenced by the Elizabethan expectation for honest looking men to be how they physically appear, suggests Othello's eventual downfall. Othello's inability to discern Iago's true goal to 'bring this monstrous birth to the world's light' results in the ultimate tragedy as Iago metaphorically succeeds in his manipulative plans. Iago 'enjoys his ability to hoodwink others into believing he is honest' Rebecca Warren (2004) states.

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