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Othello and Elizabethan Values

            A text's value resides in its ability to relate and resonate with modern audiences. Shakespeare's tragedy Othello demonstrates this, reflecting Elizabethan values which are still relevant in today's society. Through the portrayal of a systematically racist society, Shakespeare utilises the universal relevance of jealousy to shape his text. Certainly, in my opinion, this is relevant to modern audiences. This is additionally emphasised with his incorporation of societal concerns of manipulation, as well as desired honour and reputation. Thus, through a critical study of Othello, I have come to believe the text successfully reflects Elizabethan values which are present in modern society.
             Shakespeare's Othello centres on the complex idea of jealousy as a means of exploring the emotion which is prevalent in all societies. Jealousy is first personified by Iago as "the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on". Here, Shakespeare provides a figure to the significant emotion of jealousy, relative to not only Elizabethan societies, but societies of all eras. Thus, Iago is accusing Othello of being jealous, however through this, he is ironically depicting his own situation, shown in his dialogue "I confess it is my nature's plague to spy into abuses, and oft my jealousy"; the reason for Iago's manipulation of Othello is his jealousy of another man being assigned as Othello's lieutenant. Iago uses Othello's most vulnerable trait, jealousy concerning his wife Desdemona as a medium of implanting doubt within Othello. He characterises Desdemona as unloyal; this, in Elizabethan society, was blatantly untolerated, as women were essentially property of their husbands. To justify his speech, Iago presents Othello with "ocular proof" when another man is in possession of Desdemona's 'magical' handkerchief, given to her by Othello. This handkerchief is a hugely valued love token of Othello's marriage, thus the sight of another man in possession of it causes him to reach the pinnacle of jealousy, even motivating him to execute Desdemona.

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