What is the importance of setting and geography in William Shakespeare's Othello?

Essay by LadyK3344College, UndergraduateA-, April 2004

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Themes such as jealousy, deception and passion interwoven through the text of 'Othello' make the story riveting. But before we can understand why events take place and characters motivations' it is important to analyse the geographical arena in which the story of Othello and the moral struggles of the characters are brought to life. By including real locations, which Elizabethans would have herd of, the play appears to be more realistic. 'Othello' is reasonably geographically accurate and this helps to make the play, with it's unlikely events, seem more plausible.

'Othello' begins, in Act One, in Venice, the flourishing heart of civilised and refined behaviour but moves from here to the hostile climes of Cyprus where conflict begins to develop. We are taken from a location where Brabantio is shocked to hear of law breaking and stealing happening "What, tell'st thou me of robbing? This is Venice, my house is not a grange" to a place with an unstable political standing.

Cyprus is ultimately unable to hold the culture and society of Venice within its realms, hence why the personalities of the noble well-bred characters break down in Cyprus.

In addition to the movement from Venice to Cyprus, 'Othello' gradually moves from scenes taking place outside to inside. We begin in a bustling street in Venice and end up in a confined space of a bedchamber/bed. This movement from large open areas to small confined spaces is a clever dramatic technique that draws the audience in by creating a sense of claustrophobia. These gradual transitions throughout the course of the play reflect Othello's behaviour. At the beginning we observe a gentleman with an active life who has many interests, especially in his military capacity as a general. However, by the end...