My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Reviewing Shakespeare is as daft as reviewing Augustine and Milton, but I’ve reviewed both of them before!* So. Othello.
First: It’s the first attestation in the English language of:
‘the beast with two backs’ (although François Rabelais said in French first)
jealousy as ‘the green-eyed monster’
‘pomp and circumstance’ (although popular today because of Elgar, not Shakespeare. still!)
How much more awesome could a Shakespeare play get than to have those three common phrases for the first time ever?!?
This play is brilliant. For the first act or two, it reads a bit like a comedy — a knave of a slave (mind you, technically they all are), scheming and conniving against his master and making people think false is true and true is false. Thus Iago.
And then, at some point while they’re in the Citadel of Cyprus (rumour has it: Famagusta), things turn darker. Othello starts getting mad. Angry-mad. Perhaps a bit crazy-mad. Iago proves himself disloyal to his friends, not just cruel to his master.
And then people start dying! Murder! Madness!
As my wife says, this play is the most tragic of all. Within moments of smothering Desdemona to death, Othello is given access to the truth — that Desdemona was not unfaithful, and that Iago was scheming to bring this about. What a downfall! Such intensity. Talk about catharsis.