Madeline's Reviews > Othello

Othello by William Shakespeare
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's review
Jan 11, 2014

really liked it
bookshelves: shakespeare

Othello, abridged:

OTHELLO: I love my wife!

IAGO: She gave Cassio her handkerchief.


DESDEMONA: Hi honey!



EMILIA: Dude, what is WRONG with you?


IAGO: Yeah, I totally made that whole wife-is-cheating-on-you thing up. PUNK'D!


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Reading Progress

02/06 marked as: read

Comments (showing 37-86)

message 86: by Paul (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Yup... that's pretty much how it goes down. Woulda liked a bit more (a line or two extra) about how Iago is a scheming Machiavellian arsehole, but it's your review, and your hyper-condensed (does that word even make sense? don't care, I like it!) version is hilarious. It gets the job done.

Especially loved Emilia's line: "Dude, what is WRONG with you?" I was expecting someone to say at some point, "Dude, where's my rapier?" or something like that.

Nice! But Cassio, not Cassius? And can't you add another line near the end:

DESDEMONA: Actually I'm not quite dead yet *dies again*

or something like that? Must be the most ridiculous moment in all Shakespeare...

Madeline Nice catch on the Cassio thing - it's been a while since I read that play.

Jayda LOL. Oh lord. But it's rather true.

Madeline I kind of want to redo it now - this is one of the early abridged plays I did, and it's not my best. Must re-read the play someday and write a better summary.

Zachariah Spoiler! :P

message 79: by Elsie (last edited May 03, 2011 02:54PM) (new)

Elsie You absolutely kill me with your reviews LOL. Anyhoo, sad but so true about Othello.

message 78: by Magdalena (new)

Magdalena u basically just told me everything i needed to know about this book

message 77: by Paige (new)

Paige This review totally makes me want to read it, not going to lie. You gave a tragedy some comedy (not that Shakespeare doesn't throw in his own twisted comedy even in his tragedies).

message 76: by Kenya (new)

Kenya Wright Hilarious!

message 75: by Kenny (new)

Kenny Bell Yes, BRAVO it was indubitably humorous in all facets of a Shakespearean Othello play.

message 74: by Beth (new) - rated it 4 stars

Beth if only it had been that easy... i would've aced my exam :(

message 73: by Matilda (new)

Matilda that will not do.

message 72: by [deleted user] (new)


Aditya well...that sums up the whole thing

Brian I wish I had read this before I wrote that 16 page essay...

Ophelia yeah yeah yeah he killed her for no reason !

message 68: by Alan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alan You have just summarized almost every opera--and yet they can be riveting works, I am told. I have only seen a couple, live--and they must be live, because of the nature of voice. I heard one Russian baritone terribly flat--at La Scala. And I was riveted by the thin scoring among instruments in Louisa Miller. But plots are not the reason to watch, or read, an opera or a play. They're the mechanism, like an auto transmission; without it, you go nowhere. But if you conscntrate on it, you're a mechanic, not passenger.

Peeta Gold star for the accuracy

message 66: by Drew (new) - rated it 3 stars

Drew nailed it

message 65: by Alma (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alma Ludgate My god, I've been laughing for a long while!

message 64: by Uyen (new) - added it

Uyen Vo Utterly hilarious.

message 63: by Duaa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Duaa Saif that's quite hilarious! we've been wasting three precious weeks of our life for this cloddish plot, which, you proved, can be read in less than one minute.

message 62: by Webiny (new)

Webiny thank you so much my friend, THAT is how i want all shakespare's work to be explained

Sanna Haha that's almost better than the book.

message 60: by Alan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alan I understand hostility toward Shakespeare's language which is foreign to students who are not prepared, or not drawn in by film and good acting. But I do not understand hostility to Othello the Moor, arguably the only American in Shakespeare's plays--yes, an African or Arab-American (Moor can mean either). The other American is Malvolio in Twelfth Night, who wants to marry the boss's daughter--and is treated as insane (it took the American Revolution to raise such a possibility for marriage).
I can assure you that the patience Shakespeare requires from beginning readers is NOT a waste of time; in fact, Chinese and Malaysian and Indian and Kenyan and Argentine students study English often to read Shakespeare; if we give up on reading him, they will not, so they will be ahead of us in English literature as well as math and science.

Madeline Wait, some people think that Malvolio was American? I have honestly never heard that before; do you have any evidence to back up that claim?

And I think I can reasonably feel hostility towards a man who let himself be emotionally manipulated into believing his wife was cheating on him and then murdering her, thanks.

message 58: by Alan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alan For Malvolio as American, see A Powers,"'What he wills': Early modern rings and vows in TN," in James Schiffer, ed., Twelfth Night: New Critical Essays. As for attitudes toward Othello, fine, fine, but your "review" suggests you do not even consider him worth reading, that racism in the Renaissance is not a revelation and a continuity, etc. I suppose I am talking the play, Othello the Moor, not the character.

Madeline That actually sounds really interesting! I'll have to see if there's an online version somewhere.

One thing that bothers me about these Shakespeare reviews that I do is people's constant assumption that because I choose to parody Shakespeare, I do not respect or understand him. In fact, respect for the original material is crucial to an effective parody (which is why I will never write a parody of, say, Twilight). I love Shakespeare, I have been reading Shakespeare since middle school, I think he is one of the greatest minds in history, and none of this should suggest that I can't write something pointing out that his plays are frequently bonkers.

message 56: by Alex (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alex I just finished reading it, and this sums it up perfectly!

message 55: by Alan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alan Beg to differ, Alex. This play reads, except for better language, like a 20th C American issues play. Othello is either African or Arab (Moors were both) and he is not accepted by the dominant race and culture, except as an excellent military leader. The prospective father-in-law businessman, Brabantio, readies his NRA buddies, "Summon my kinsmen!" being a call to his armed consorteria, his military band ("tower" bands in most Italian cities). While the Senate / CIA is readying their job for Othello, the powerful Brabantio interferes and calls upon the Senate as court to settle his suit against Othello for kidnapping his daughter Desdemona. Think what would happen if during a debate on Iran a Senator asked his fellow senators to judge his daughter's marriage to an Iranian. In the trial that takes precedence over their National Security, Desdemona is asked where her family duty lies. She answers, "Father, here I do perceive a divided raised me, but here is my husband..." Her Father essentially curses her and washes his hands.
This kind of domestic-racial-filial drama is so common in American literature of the past fifty years that Othello may seem like an imitation. It is not. It predates by 400 years all these portrayals of similar issues. As for how easily Othello is duped, it is a mistake not to see Iago as trustworthy, like John-Boy Walton, or like your favorite despised politician whom so many trust. And the tragedy can be seen as exactly predicting PTSD results for Afghanistan soldiers trained to act, and to kill when confronted with suspicion of their wives who have remained stateside.
Even Emilia's little speech on "I do think it is their husbands's faults / If wives do fall. Say that they... pour our treasures into foreign laps..." is a ground-breaking statement of female sexual equality, "Then let them use us well. Else let them know / The ills we do, their ills instruct us so."
No, no, such a summation misses the entire drama of one of the first Americans in literature--an African American-- "American" because he wants to marry someone of a higher social status. There's only one other "American" in Shakespeare, Malvolio in Twelfth Night, who is treated as a madman because he has a similar goal. But do we in America still allow such social mobility?

message 54: by Chippy (new)

Chippy *Moves Like Jagger* Marco LOVE YOUR REVIEW!!! BEST REVIEW EVEEEEER!!

Scott Stillman Oh man. How about a spoiler warning.

message 52: by Alan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alan To show my Oct 31 comment was not just my opinion, see this recent performance that emphasizes current issues in military PTSD etc:

Kumari Nice one!

Darren Best review I've ever read!! :)

message 49: by Mohamed (new) - added it

Mohamed Elhakam I wish i was read this review so not as to wasting my time :D

message 48: by Igor (new)

Igor Ljubuncic Is funneh.

message 47: by Steve (new) - added it

Steve Scott wrote: "Oh man. How about a spoiler warning."

Yes!, Thank you Scott, some of us (wink, wink--tongue in cheek) have yet to read the play! ;)

Madeline Spoiler alert: Hamlet dies.

message 45: by Zoey (new) - rated it 2 stars

Zoey He killed her!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!##!

message 44: by Ken (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ken Moten Madeline wrote: "Spoiler alert: Hamlet dies."

DAMN YOU RUINED IT FOR ME!!!!11!1!1!1! Well at least I can look forward to Julius Caesar without any spoiling ;)

message 43: by Kris (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kris Speaking as a alumnus of "Othello", that's about the size of it! Everyone else is pretty much just there!

message 42: by Alan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alan Kris wrote: "Speaking as a alumnus of "Othello", that's about the size of it! Everyone else is pretty much just there!"

Unfair! Emilia's is the first simple feminist equality statement in English lit: "I do think it is their husbands' faults/ When wives do fall. Say that they slack their duties / And pour our treasures into foreign laps,/ Or else break out in peevish jealousies...Then let them use us well. Else let them know/ The ills we do, their ills instruct us so."(4.3.90ff) And the clown scene that begins Act 3 angered my Viet Nam vet students, that they didn't catch the joke on farting --"Whereby hangs a tail?" "By many a wind instrument that I know." The "wind instruments" that "speak in the nose thus" are shaums, like early oboes, quacking. And O's Father in law Brabantio is a remarkable portrait of a Renaissance Italian consorteria-member, especialy for a writer who never went to Italy--though he had read much. (The one book we know was in his library was a life of Catherine de Medici which his daughter gave to the Queen when she stayed at Shakespeare's New Place in 1643.)

Madeline Let it go, Alan.

Jason Hahahahh, such persistence!

message 39: by Alan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alan Madeline wrote: "Let it go, Alan."

Why? As a teacher of Sh for 38 years, I have heard well-known actors say lines they did not understand. So I assume that all readers, even those on our august site, have problems with 400 year old English. For me, 400 years is fairly recent since my prep involved a year of Anglo Saxon, a couple years of Chaucer --so largely French-inflected--and a minor in Latin.

message 38: by Jessica (= (new)

Jessica (= pretty book you have there.

Madeline Alan, if I tell you that you're the smartest man in the world and no one understands Shakespeare better than you, will that make you go away?

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