Troilus and Cressida is concerned with love and war, Othello with love and a war that does not happen. The play opens in an atmosphere of public as well as private crisis: not only the night elopement and marriage of Desdemona, but the threat of Turkish attack which makes it so important to establish the whereabouts of Othello, Venice’s most trusted general. Through the first act we see this as an imminently menacing threat, in the conventional stream of messengers bringing new news every twenty-five lines, in the efforts of the Senate to construe their apparently contradictory signals as to the movements of the Turks, in the speed with which the business of Othello’s marriage is dispatched and he is shipped for Cyprus. It may have come as something of a surprise to the original audience when this war, so elaborately prepared for, disappears with a few casual lines from a nameless Third Gentleman at the beginning of At II:


Paradise Lost Commanding Officer Inverted Comma Sexual Jealousy Sexual Love 
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    See G.M. Matthews, ‘Othelloand the Dignity of Man’, in Shakespeare in a Changing World, ed. Arnold Kettle (London, 1964 ), pp. 123–45.Google Scholar
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    This is the hypothesis of Emrys Jones, ‘Othello, Lepanto and the Cyprus Wars’, reprinted from Shakespeare Survey in Aspects of Othello eds Kenneth Muir and Philip Edwards (Cambridge, 1977), pp. 61–6.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Nicholas Grene 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas Grene
    • 1
  1. 1.Trinity CollegeDublinIreland

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