Why does Shakespeare move the setting of the play to Cyprus?



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The final four acts of Othello are set on the relative remote location of Cyprus. All of the characters are removed from the buffering effects of civil society as a consequence of this shift from Venice to the Mediterranean island. In Act IV, Scene 1, the Venetian nobleman Lodivico witnesses Othello physically strike Desdemona, and protests, "My Lord, this would not be believed in Venice / Though I should swear I saw't" (IV.i.243-244). Emotions and actions are exaggerated on an outpost where Othello is both the military commander and the civil administrator. The move to Cyprus allows Shakespeare to underscore Othello's immaturity, for while the Moor is an outstanding military leader, he is a poor administrator.

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