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What is a comparison between Venice and Cyprus in Othello?what are they symbols for?

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ayaelsayed | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 9, 2011 at 8:45 PM via web

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What is a comparison between Venice and Cyprus in Othello?

what are they symbols for?

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scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 10, 2011 at 5:51 AM (Answer #1)

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In short, Venice represents civilization and order in Othello, and Cyprus symbolizes barbaric actions and chaos. In Venice, the Duke uses logic to rectify the situation with Othello and Desdemona's elopement; in Cyprus, Iago uses emotional manipulation to destroy relationships. In Venice, Othello and others like Brabantio handle their disagreements civilly in the Duke's Palace. In Cyprus, physical fights break out between Montano and Cassio and Roderigo and Cassio.

Shakespeare juxtaposes the two settings to demonstrate what happens to a person when he allows his emotions to rule him rather than his logic. For example, in Act I when Othello is in Venice, he will not allow Brabantio to goad him into a fight, but when he gets to Cyprus, an isolated military outpost, he soon falls prey to Iago's psychological manipulation and gives in to a hot temper and jealousy.

At the play's end, even though the physical setting of Act 5 is still Cyprus, notice how the visitors from Venice (Lodovico and Gratiano) are the ones to restore order after all the chaos and death. It is as if the play ideologically concludes in Venice.

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