This is an intense drama of love, deception, jealousy and destruction. Desdemona’s love for Othello, the Moor, transcends racial prejudice; but the envious Iago conspires to devastate their lives. In its vivid rendering of racism, sexism, contested identities, and the savagery lurking within civilisation, Othello is arguably the most topical and accessible tragedy from Shakespeare’s major phase as a dramatist. The play raises uncomfortable questions about ongoing questions of not only racial identity but also sexuality, as Othello and Desdemona’s sexual relationship becomes the voyeuristic site of Iago’s attempt to destroy them.
Illustrated throughout by Sir John Gilbert (1817–1897), famous for his depictions of historical scenes. As well as Shakespeare, he illustrated works of Sir Walter Scott, Cervantes, Wilkie Collins and Wordsworth. (hb)