Can a single reading explain the meaning of "Othello" by William Shakespeare?

Essay by crimsonbutterflyHigh School, 11th gradeA, November 2006

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What are readings? Concept of Readings

Readings are the interpretations out of a text by readers, which tend to reflect the values of society. For any text there are as many readings of a text as there are readers, depending on the ideas that readers have deconstructed from it, and they will change over time as they are examined during in different contexts, where attitudes and values may be entirely different. To make sense of a text, every representation produced by a reader establishes ideas about some elements in their own society; however these ideas cannot encompass the textual integrity of the entire text, and will either reject, contradict or credit certain representations of the text which are critical in other readings. In Shakespeare Othello, there are also many different readings that have emerged, for example, Aristotelian, Postcolonial and Feminist readings. Its dominant Aristotelian reading is designed to invite, favour, or represent the beliefs and values that are most of society.

Inherent in the dominant reading of Othello is the tragedy of his fatal flaw which would lead eventually to his downfall.

Why are there different readings?

The survival of many texts depend on the continued relevance it draws to contemporary issues today, offering audiences something to recontextualise, rendering it more relevant to the society at present or it with be redundant otherwise. In Othello, Shakespeare deals with the transcendent themes of human existence, such as love, jealously and greed; universal qualities which allows different audiences from all contexts to relate to the play, and provide new readings. As the values of society constantly evolve over time, the ideas of readings also begin to morph, relative to the cultural attitudes and beliefs. Each reading is dependent on their context and applies its own historical, cultural and personal ideology. This is...