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Private Life Affairs

Shakespeare’s Othello to a large extent comes close to what is known as a Domestic Tragedy.  The play holds many elements of what justifies it to be revolving around characters who are middle class, engaged in their private life affairs. 

Although at the centre of the actions is the disharmony brought in between the marital relationship of the protagonists (a common theme of the Elizabethan Domestic Tragedy) and the actions do not concern public matter, Shakespeare brings in an exception to this convention.

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Othello is bestowed with qualities equal to that of a king or any other public figure whose actions do affect the entire city of Cyprus and much more seems to be at stake than his personal life.

Othello – A Great Character

Othello is descended from men “of royal siege” and a chosen commander in chief. Despite being a middle-class man, his tragedy is great because of his great character of heightened morals and power. However, the play is a domestic tragedy as the centre to the destruction is the marriage of Othello and Desdemona.

The play begins with the news of them getting married, the beginning of their personal relation, the actions fall towards catastrophe with the possible destruction of it and ultimately its pitiful end when this institution is defiled with distrust, suspicion and hatred. The tragedy is a result more of the protagonists being too much in love than of their individual tragic flaws.

Domesticated Characters

In Othello, the characters are domesticated. They are revealed through their acts according to their relationship with others than through their social position. Desdemona is Othello’s wife, Iago and Cassio, subordinates to Othello and Brabantio acts solely as the father of Desdemona.

All the actions in the play that occur outside this private affair are also there to affect, bring discord and distrust to the marital relationship itself. Iago’s professional grievances find an outlet in the personal life of Othello. His ambition to a social position is, however, not at the centre to the plot.

Tragic End

Cassio’s way to his apology is through Othello’s wife. He regrets as a friend about whatever he did as a subordinate of Othello. The Duke of Venice is also made to engage in these affairs, trying to reconcile Othello and Brabantio. 

The actions in the play do not go far from mundane family life. There are no supernatural forces working in the play but only the personal motives, deficiency, fear and ambition bringing the play to a tragic end.