Q:

Why did Shakespeare write "Othello"?

A:

Quick Answer

Shakespeare wrote "Othello" to chronicle the political and racial tensions between Europeans and non-Europeans during the 17th century. Furthermore, it is widely believed that the play was written particularly to suit the interests of King James I, who had an interest in Turkish history and customs.

Know More

Full Answer

The play is unique in featuring a Muslim black man as the main protagonist, thus making the work highly relevant in response to the Elizabethan era's racial policies towards the Moors. Although blacks were not yet regarded as slaves during that time, they had been recently deported after having just been granted diplomatic rights by Queen Elizabeth in 1601. This was due largely to fears of overpopulation, and despite the slave trade not yet being established, the black race was considered inferior during the writing of "Othello." For this reason, "Othello" is considered a groundbreaking cultural work for its time, as a black Moor is depicted as a civilized, noble, Christian protagonist, which forced its audiences to reconsider racial status during the early 16th century.

However, while "Othello" may had been novel in its racial representation in Shakespeare's day, it is no longer considered a wholly original literary work. It is widely held that Shakespeare wrote "Othello" based on a short story by Italian author Cinthio Giambattista Giraldi in 1584.

Learn more about Classics

Related Questions

  • Q:

    How many plays and sonnets did Shakespeare write?

    A:

    Most scholars accept that William Shakespeare wrote 38 plays and 154 sonnets. Additionally, he wrote four longer poems. Though he may have written other plays, they are lost to history.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Why did William Shakespeare write "Macbeth"?

    A:

    Many scholars believe that Williams Shakespeare may have written his famous tragedy, "Macbeth," as a celebration of King James I. King James I of England had formerly been King James the VI of Scotland, and ascended to the throne in 1603. He was the first in the line of Stuarts that combined the crowns of both England and Scotland.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How many books did Shakespeare write?

    A:

    Although William Shakespeare did not write actual books, he wrote 38 plays during his career as a playwright. His earliest written plays included "Richard III" and "Henry VI."

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Why did Shakespeare write the play Macbeth?

    A:

    Though it is impossible to say exactly why William Shakespeare wrote "Macbeth," the political and historical context of the play gives scholars major clues. "Macbeth" serves as a cautionary tale for those who would threaten the king and acts as a reassertion of the divine right of monarchs.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore