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Whether we should consider Othello a victim or a villain in Shakespeare’s play in depends to a degree on how the lead actor chooses to play him. Obviously, Iago is the main villain of the play; there is nothing good about him. In Othello’s case, one can argue that he is a good man driven mad by Iago’s machinations and jealousy or that he is a mixed character, with the seeds of insane jealousy potentially present. Most contemporary productions portray Othello as a good man, perhaps overly trusting and naive, driven mad beyond endurance by Iago. Earlier productions often emphasized that Othello was a Moor with a savage jealous nature, temporarily suppressed by good influences, but bursting forth under pressure.
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