On "Othello's" premier in 1604

1 November 1604, on "Hallamas Day, being the first of Nouembar” performed by “the Kings Maiesties plaiers", Shakespeare’s “Othello” premiered at the Palace of Whitehall in London.
“Jealousy! "Othello was not jealous, he was trustful," observed Pushkin. And that remark alone is enough to show the deep insight of our great poet. Othello's soul was shattered and his whole outlook clouded simply because his ideal was destroyed. ... Othello was incapable of making up his mind to faithlessness- not incapable of forgiving it, but of making up his mind to it - though his soul was as innocent and free from malice as a babe's.“ (Fyodor Dostoevsky “The Brothers Karamazov”)



 William Mulready’s (1786–1863) “Othello“,
showing the famous African-American actor Ira Aldridge (1807 – 1867)
 as the play’s hero, probably during a performance in London in 1833.


The yarn about the nameless Moorish captain and his ensign as handed down by Boccaccio’s disciple Cinthio in 1565 is actually a sensationalist and xenophobic cock-and-bull story about savages in foreign parts, governed by their instincts, blood, thunder, homicide and the lack of honour among thieves and murderers. Combined with the appearance of fascinatingly alien ambassadors from the Barbary Coast at Good Queen Bess’ court, noble, but not savage at all, it is Shakespeare’s merit to blend boulevard stories into a universally human drama where xenophobia and savage emotions are but stylistic devices to describe a spiritual abyss. The murder of the young, beautiful and well-spoken Desdemona is no longer Cinthio’s simplistic cry of “serves you right for marrying a foreigner!” but almost a ritual act, a futile human sacrifice to set a world that has gone off the rails to its rights again. And Othello has become a byword for the infamous green-eyed monster of jealousy.


William Salter (1804 - 1875): "Othello's Lamentation" (1857)



The play was almost forgotten during the 18th century's days of classicist moderation  or had been reinterpreted and reimagined by various lesser authors to a comedy of trials and tribulations with a happy end. The Romantics, however, were naturally fascinated by the troubled, deeply emotional individual on the brink of madness, thrown into the world, all alone, perishing nobly. And while Iago, in all his subtlety, knowledge of human nature and rather unmotivated malice, remains one of the most villainous villains in world literature and partial aspects of the play, especially the race and gender part, went again through various different readings and emphases through the following decades, it is Othello’s lonely despair, friendless exposure to an inimical world and his frantic attempts to maintain grace under pressure that once fascinated the Romantics and still constitutes the most fascinating trait in all adaptions on stage, in the opera and on the silver screen.



And more about “Othello” on

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Othello