Cover image for The tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice
The tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice
Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616.
Uniform Title:
Washington Square Press new Folger's edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Washington Square Press, 1993.
Physical Description:
li, 314 pages : illustrations ; 18 cm.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 8.4 5.0 53871.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR2829.A2 M68 1993 Adult Non-Fiction Reading List

On Order



The full text of Shakespeare's 'Othello'.

Author Notes

William Shakespeare, 1564 - 1616 Although there are many myths and mysteries surrounding William Shakespeare, a great deal is actually known about his life. He was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, son of John Shakespeare, a prosperous merchant and local politician and Mary Arden, who had the wealth to send their oldest son to Stratford Grammar School.

At 18, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, the 27-year-old daughter of a local farmer, and they had their first daughter six months later. He probably developed an interest in theatre by watching plays performed by traveling players in Stratford while still in his youth. Some time before 1592, he left his family to take up residence in London, where he began acting and writing plays and poetry.

By 1594 Shakespeare had become a member and part owner of an acting company called The Lord Chamberlain's Men, where he soon became the company's principal playwright. His plays enjoyed great popularity and high critical acclaim in the newly built Globe Theatre. It was through his popularity that the troupe gained the attention of the new king, James I, who appointed them the King's Players in 1603. Before retiring to Stratford in 1613, after the Globe burned down, he wrote more than three dozen plays (that we are sure of) and more than 150 sonnets. He was celebrated by Ben Jonson, one of the leading playwrights of the day, as a writer who would be "not for an age, but for all time," a prediction that has proved to be true.

Today, Shakespeare towers over all other English writers and has few rivals in any language. His genius and creativity continue to astound scholars, and his plays continue to delight audiences. Many have served as the basis for operas, ballets, musical compositions, and films. While Jonson and other writers labored over their plays, Shakespeare seems to have had the ability to turn out work of exceptionally high caliber at an amazing speed. At the height of his career, he wrote an average of two plays a year as well as dozens of poems, songs, and possibly even verses for tombstones and heraldic shields, all while he continued to act in the plays performed by the Lord Chamberlain's Men. This staggering output is even more impressive when one considers its variety. Except for the English history plays, he never wrote the same kind of play twice. He seems to have had a good deal of fun in trying his hand at every kind of play.

Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets, all published on 1609, most of which were dedicated to his patron Henry Wriothsley, The Earl of Southhampton. He also wrote 13 comedies, 13 histories, 6 tragedies, and 4 tragecomedies. He died at Stratford-upon-Avon April 23, 1616, and was buried two days later on the grounds of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. His cause of death was unknown, but it is surmised that he knew he was dying.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

More than a retelling, this aptly termed "reconceptualization" provocatively modernizes Shakespeare's play. As in the original, the middle-aged general Othello the ``moor'' and young European noblewoman Desdemona fall in love and marry secretly. But Lester (To Be a Slave; John Henry) transplants the action from Venice and Cyprus to Elizabethan England and turns Iago and Emily into Africans like Othello, so that the three of them share a distinctly non-European point of view. Iago's envy of Othello and ability to whip him into a jealous rage at Desdemona are thus cast in a new light, though the tragic outcome remains the same. While the ending feels abrupt, Lester's novel succeeds in holding up a mirror to contemporary society. Phrases and passages directly based on Shakespeare's language are printed in a different typeface, a device that may distract the reader but eases comparisons with the original work. Ages 8-12. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Targeting novice readers of Shakespeare, "The Sourcebooks Shakespeare" series presents the Bard's plays as a ground for lively debate and discussion. Each release includes a general introduction; the text of the play itself; a series of essays on the play, written by scholars who eschew technical vocabulary; and an audio CD of various performers reading selected scenes and speeches from the play. In the case of the Othello volume the recordings include rare gems performed by Paul Robeson and F. Scott Fitzgerald; the Romeo and Juliet CD features performances by Joseph Fiennes, Claire Bloom, Albert Finney, Judi Dench, and Fiona Shaw. The text of both plays is presented in an appealing font size with lots of blank space surrounding the dialogue. Notes occupy a facing page, and they are helpful without being overwhelming. Scenes or speeches performed on the CD are marked with a text box that indicates how to locate the track. Neither volume clarifies how the editors arrived at "the text," which will be a drawback to teachers who want to engage students with questions of textual bibliography. Photos of past productions aim to help students visualize the scenes. With all this helpful commentary, however, student readers have little need to project the text imaginatively. For example, in narrating the Othello CD, Sir Derek Jacobi prefaces most tracks with a summary of the scene to follow and frames each with an interpretation. The quality of these two volumes differs somewhat. In happy contrast to the edition of Othello, the essays in the Romeo and Juliet volume do not lose sight of the fact that the play text requires active, critical reading. Facsimile pages from promptbooks of famous productions, e.g., J.P. Kemble's 1814 mounting of the play, point the reader to directors' revisions of the play as they produce it. Those with limited background in reading early modern plays will appreciate this very "friendly" Shakespeare series. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates; secondary students; general readers. M. A. Bushman Illinois Wesleyan University

Booklist Review

Gr. 8-12. Some may wonder what Lester is up to here. A novelization of Shakespeare's Othello? Why not just read the play? But in his well-reasoned introduction, Lester tackles that subject head-on, and his answers should convince even purists that there's a place for this book. After all, it's common knowledge that Shakespeare took plots from other works, so Lester is only following the Bard's example. Moreover, Lester firmly states that his book is not a substitute for the play but, rather, a re-imagining of the story. Though he follows the original story line, Lester has made significant changes in the characterizations. Now Iago and Emilia (Emily in the play), like Othello, are black. Lester wanted race to be a more central theme of his novel, and by repositioning these characters, he brings a new and powerful dimension to that aspect of the story. In portraying Othello, Iago, and Emily as Africans who have come to England (the new setting) together, Lester gives them a mutual history that also adds psychological depth to his new conceptualization. Another goal of Lester's is to make his book a bridge to the play. Since Shakespeare's language can be an inhibiting factor for young people, this more modern rendering makes the story accessible. But Lester does not entirely remake Shakespeare's style. Sometimes Lester paraphrases; at other times, he uses exact wording, which is printed in boldface, a useful, if occasionally awkward device.There's only one problem with the book, and it's one that has played around the edges of Shakespeare's work as well. Othello's dramatic about-face concerning Desdemona, ending in her murder, comes with a quickness that will probably startle young readers. Despite the pyschological motivations Lester has tried to establish, Othello's haste to distrust does not seem to mesh with the image of the noble general that's been presented. Perhaps because of the intimacy a novel engenders, this jump seems more jarring here than it does in the play. On the whole, however, this is a fascinating effort. The story of Othello, with its questions about perceptions, race, and the nature of love and friendship, will be a natural draw for young people, just as it has been for readers worldwide, for centuries. --Ilene Cooper

Library Journal Review

The new "Sourcebooks Shakespeare" series is designed to attract a wide audience by emphasizing performance as well as text. A glossary and photos from contemporary stage and film productions accompany the text of each play, and related essays offer further insights. Each title contains an integrated audio CD that is narrated by British Shakespearean actor Sir Derek Jacobi and features excerpts from memorable performances of key scenes. The series boasts stellar credits: its advisory board includes Shakespeare scholars David Bevington and Peter Holland and Chicago Shakespeare Theater director Barbara Gaines. Among the contributors are several more Shakespeare scholars as well as actress Janet Suzman and Andrew Wade, formerly head of voice for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Both volumes begin with Thomas Garvey's "In Shakespeare's `Time,' " an essay that sets the playwright in historical context, and end with "The Cast Speaks," in which casts of 2005 productions discuss their approach to the characters they portrayed. The CD accompanying the Othello volume features a variety of noteworthy performers in the title role, including Paul Robeson, Paul Scofield, and Edwin Booth; and the CD accompanying the Romeo and Juliet volume presents recordings of Kate Beckinsale, Dame Peggy Ashcroft, and Ellen Terry as Juliet; Kenneth Branagh and Michael Sheen as Romeo; Sir Derek Jacobi as Mercutio; and Sir John Gielgud as Friar Laurence. With the number of film adaptations of Shakespeare's works in recent years, public libraries should seriously consider acquiring this series.-Carolyn M. Mulac, Chicago P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-Osada has populated his version of Othello with a bestiary of part-animal, part-monster characters with third eyes; second sets of arms, wings, and tattoos; and sadomasochistic or infernal overtones. Sometimes the design choices seem to be thematic-Cassio looks quite young, Othello is vaguely angelic-to reinforce an individual aspect of a given character or to provide a small irony. But overall, the effect is mystifying and distracting, and the characters are chimeric aggregations with no sense of purpose or place. The opening of the play focuses on the fact that the marriage between Othello and Desdemona should be stopped because of his Moorish origins-but how can this be an issue when the challenge is being put forth by an anthropomorphic fox? One finds oneself asking why these design decisions were made, and the lack of evidence of any thoughtful intent makes the adaptation unintentionally comic and bizarre. Coupled with a lackluster use of tone and shade, and a series of monologues that lacks narrative form, this volume would seem unlikely to convert manga readers to Shakespeare, nor to lead literature readers to comics.-Benjamin Russell, Belmont High School, NH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter 1 Act 1 Scene 1 running scene 1 Enter Rodorigo and Iago RODORIGO Never tell me! I take it much unkindly That thou, Iago, who hast had my purse As if the strings were thine, shouldst know of this. IAGO But you'll not hear me: if ever I did dream Of such a matter, abhor me. RODORIGO Thou told'st me Thou didst hold him in thy hate. IAGO Despise me If I do not. Three great ones of the city, In personal suit to make me his lieutenant, Off-capped to him, and by the faith of man, I know my price, I am worth no worse a place: But he, as loving his own pride and purposes, Evades them with a bombast circumstance Horribly stuffed with epithets of war, Nonsuits my mediators. For 'Certes', says he, 'I have already chose my officer.' And what was he? Forsooth, a great arithmetician, One Michael Cassio, a Florentine - A fellow almost damned in a fair wife - That never set a squadron in the field Nor the division of a battle knows More than a spinster, unless the bookish theoric, Wherein the toga'd consuls can propose As masterly as he. Mere prattle without practice Is all his soldiership. But he, sir, had th'election; And I - of whom his eyes had seen the proof At Rhodes, at Cyprus and on others' grounds, Christened and heathen - must be beleed and calmed By debitor and creditor: this counter-caster, He - in good time - must his lieutenant be, And I - bless the mark! - his Moorship's ancient. RODORIGO By heaven, I rather would have been his hangman. IAGO Why, there's no remedy: 'tis the curse of service; Preferment goes by letter and affection, And not by old gradation, where each second Stood heir to th'first. Now, sir, be judge yourself Whether I in any just term am affined To love the Moor. RODORIGO I would not follow him then. IAGO O, sir, content you: I follow him to serve my turn upon him. We cannot all be masters, nor all masters Cannot be truly followed. You shall mark Many a duteous and knee-crooking knave That - doting on his own obsequious bondage - Wears out his time, much like his master's ass, For nought but provender, and when he's old, cashiered: Whip me such honest knaves. Others there are Who, trimmed in forms and visages of duty, Keep yet their hearts attending on themselves, And throwing but shows of service on their lords, Do well thrive by them, And when they have lined their coats Do themselves homage: these fellows have some soul, And such a one do I profess myself. For, sir, It is as sure as you are Rodorigo, Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago: In following him, I follow but myself. Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty, But seeming so, for my peculiar end, For when my outward action doth demonstrate The native act and figure of my heart In compliment extern, 'tis not long after But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve For daws to peck at: I am not what I am. RODORIGO What a full fortune does the thick-lips owe If he can carry't thus! IAGO Call up her father: Rouse him, make after him, poison his delight, Proclaim him in the streets, incense her kinsmen, And though he in a fertile climate dwell, Plague him with flies: though that his joy be joy, Yet throw such chances of vexation on't As it may lose some colour. RODORIGO Here is her father's house, I'll call aloud. IAGO Do, with like timorous accent and dire yell As when, by night and negligence, the fire Is spied in populous cities. RODORIGO What, ho, Brabantio! Signior Brabantio, ho! IAGO Awake! What, ho! Brabantio, thieves, thieves! Look to your house, your daughter and your bags! Thieves, thieves! BRABANTIO What is the reason of this Above At a window terrible summons? What is the matter there? RODORIGO Signior, is all your family within? IAGO Are your doors locked? BRABANTIO Why? Wherefore ask you this? IAGO Sir, you're robbed. For shame, put on your gown! Your heart is burst, you have lost half your soul: Even now, now, very now, an old black ram Is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise! Awake the snorting citizens with the bell, Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you. Arise, I say! BRABANTIO What, have you lost your wits? RODORIGO Most reverend signior, do you know my voice? BRABANTIO Not I: what are you? RODORIGO My name is Rodorigo. BRABANTIO The worser welcome. I have charged thee not to haunt about my doors: In honest plainness thou hast heard me say My daughter is not for thee: and now in madness - Being full of supper and distemp'ring draughts - Upon malicious knavery dost thou come To start my quiet. RODORIGO Sir, sir, sir- BRABANTIO But thou must needs be sure My spirits and my place have in their power To make this bitter to thee. RODORIGO Patience, good sir. BRABANTIO What tell'st thou me of robbing? This is Venice: my house is not a grange. RODORIGO Most grave Brabantio, In simple and pure soul I come to you. IAGO Sir, you are one of those that will not serve God if the devil bid you. Because we come to do you service and you think we are ruffians, you'll have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse: you'll have your nephews neigh to you: you'll have coursers for cousins and jennets for germans. BRABANTIO What profane wretch art thou? IAGO I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter and the Moor are making the beast with two backs. BRABANTIO Thou art a villain. IAGO You are a senator. BRABANTIO This thou shalt answer. I know thee, Rodorigo. RODORIGO Sir, I will answer anything. But I beseech you If't be your pleasure and most wise consent - As partly I find it is - that your fair daughter, At this odd-even and dull watch o'th'night, Transported with no worse nor better guard But with a knave of common hire, a gondolier, To the gross clasps of a lascivious Moor: If this be known to you and your allowance We then have done you bold and saucy wrongs: But if you know not this, my manners tell me We have your wrong rebuke. Do not believe That, from the sense of all civility, I thus would play and trifle with your reverence. Your daughter - if you have not given her leave - I say again, hath made a gross revolt, Tying her duty, beauty, wit and fortunes In an extravagant and wheeling stranger Of here and everywhere. Straight satisfy yourself: If she be in her chamber or your house, Let loose on me the justice of the state For thus deluding you. BRABANTIO Strike on the tinder, ho! Give me a taper! Call up all my people! This accident is not unlike my dream: Belief of it oppresses me already. Light, I say, light! Exit [above] IAGO Farewell, for I must leave you: It seems not meet nor wholesome to my place To be producted - as, if I stay, I shall - Against the Moor, for I do know the state, However this may gall him with some check, Cannot with safety cast him, for he's embarked With such loud reason to the Cyprus wars, Which even now stands in act, that, for their souls, Another of his fathom they have none, To lead their business: in which regard, Though I do hate him as I do hell-pains. Yet for necessity of present life I must show out a flag and sign of love, Which is indeed but sign. That you shall surely find him, Lead to the Sagittary the raisèd search, And there will I be with him. So farewell. Exit Enter Brabantio with Servants and torches BRABANTIO It is too true an evil: gone she is, And what's to come of my despisèd time Is nought but bitterness. Now, Rodorigo, Where didst thou see her?- O, unhappy girl!- With the Moor, say'st thou?- Who would be a father?- How didst thou know 'twas she?- O, she deceives me Past thought!- What said she to you?- Get more tapers: Raise all my kindred.- Are they married, think you? RODORIGO Truly, I think they are. BRABANTIO O heaven! How got she out? O treason of the blood! Fathers, from hence trust not your daughters' minds By what you see them act. Is there not charms By which the property of youth and maidhood May be abused? Have you not read, Rodorigo, Of some such thing? RODORIGO Yes, sir, I have indeed. BRABANTIO Call up my brother.- O, would you had had her!- Some one way, some another.- Do you know To Rodorigo Where we may apprehend her and the Moor? RODORIGO I think I can discover him, if you please To get good guard and go along with me. BRABANTIO Pray you lead on. At every house I'll call: I may command at most.- Get weapons, ho! And raise some special officers of might.- On, good Rodorigo: I will deserve your pains. Exeunt Excerpted from Othello by William Shakespeare All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 4
William Shakespeare: Life, Plays, Theater, Versep. 6
The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice: Date, Source, Textp. 16
Original Text Side-by-Side With Modern Versionp. 19
Activitiesp. 294
Themes and Imagesp. 294
Charactersp. 301
Examination Questionsp. 315