The play opens with Iago's speech regarding what he feels is Othello's disloyalty to him in promoting Cassio. This initial act of betrayal of friendship occurs outside of the play, but it initiates a series of actions that highlight the theme of "loyalty and betrayal."
What does Othello owe Iago, who has served him faithfully in wars past? What does Iago owe Othello now that he has been pushed aside in his promotion? What does Othello owe the Venetian state in promoting him? In what way is his romance of Desdemona an act of betrayal itself, since she is clearly the consummate insider and he the consummate outsider, seemingly encouraging her to betray her father? These questions circulate in the first busy scenes of the play without time for anyone to address them properly, as the Turks threaten the state and necessitate Othello's and Desdemona's move to Cyprus.
On Cyprus, the themes of betrayal and loyalty intensify as attention turns to Iago's betrayal of Othello, casting suspicion on...
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