"Othello" is the simplest of all Shakespeare's great tragedies.

Essay by kalorfulHigh School, 11th gradeA+, November 2006

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Othello is the simplest of all Shakespeare's great tragedies. The theme is limited and sharply defined and the play is a brilliantly successful piece of worksmanship. Do you agree?

Othello is a simple tragedy, in that the action leading to the climax happens very rapidly. This economy of plot, combined with a relatively small cast of main characters, contributes to its simplicity. The concentration of the play is not about an event on a macro scale, but on the fate of marriage between Othello and Desdemona. In comparison, Macbeth focused on the steady but slow corruption of the hero, and depicts him committing various acts which alter the macro relationships between the characters to resolve his ambition, eventually changing from being a thane of a fief, to the usurped position of being King of Scotland. Unlike Macbeth, Othello focuses more upon personal relations, narrowing down the range of the material presented.

There are three main relationships which are focused upon in the play, being between Othello and his lieutenant Cassio, Othello and his wife, Desdemona, and Iago, his trusted ancient. Although Act I of the play raises some issues about national security and foreign invasion, they are quick brushed past for redirecting focus upon personal relationships "News, friends, our wars are done; the Turks are drown'd." - II,I line 204. Those issues quickly lose their prominence as the play progresses, because they were only meant to set the context of the play. Thus, the focus of the play being on personal relationships contributes greatly to it simplicity.

Also, the action of the play is much quicker than that of Shakespeare's other tragedies. Using Macbeth as an example, the play occurs over a great time period, from the meeting between Macbeth and the witches, to the coronation, to the...