Last Updated 20 Apr 2022

Leadership Theme in Othello

Category Iago, Leadership, Othello
Words 1688 (6 pages)
Table of contents

William Shakespeare is one of the most profound writers that ever existed; his books have touched almost all aspects of life. I was drawn by Othello because of the natural skill and brilliance the author used. How Shakespeare builds character of the protagonists and antagonists is out of this world; the sequence of scenes and vocabulary in use is also unparalleled. Not only in Othello but also in his other plays. Love and romance is one of the themes that his plays revolved on; we can say he used it as device to attract more readers and viewers, but if we look at it as a non marketing tool we can also say that he centered in it to confuse the authorities of England that were ruthless when it came to dealing with anti government policies, e.g colonialism. I solely deployed the review method of research as it would give me the filtered thoughts of professionals on the matter.

That said, neo-classic literature critics have come to a truce that Othello is a play that lays bare the qualities of a true leader and how the leadership can influence the political and economic sector. These traits can be laid bare if one deciphers the underlying message in the characters actions and words. All characters have different traits so I paid keen attention to the protagonist and antagonist; Othello and Lago. Their smooth distinction and how ones opinions and suggestions could affect the other lays bare the desirable and undesirable traits in leadership. The main purpose of this review is to try and show Shakespeare's honorable audience that there is more to his plays than just love themes.

Leadership theme in OthelloI will have to begin this introduction by a praise to the play master himself; William Shakespeare. At the beginning of the play the writer portrays Othello as a very indecisive man and still hard lined to his shortcomings. Later on, the character takes a paradigm shift and he is able to be adored by the audience. This is made possible by his selfless actions capped with eloquent enticing skills. Lago who is the villain is seemingly attached to the main character, staying true to his malicious cause; he leads to the memorable demise of Othello. How this two interact should be an eye opener for leaders to be cautious and very selective of the company they keep and how that company influences his thoughts and delivery when in and out of duty. At the onset of the play we might have a likable feeling towards Lago but when detailing on the triggers of his actions we will see that he was created to clearly show shortcomings of any leader and what happens to them if they pushed to the breaking point by wrong influences.

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Lago's treacherous act were driven by human desires; he wanted Cassio's post as a lieutenant and that was his reason for spreading the rumor to his boss that his wife was having a secret affair with his enemy. We must also marvel at how Lago drew the equation and fixed Brabantio in it as he knew how much he detested the affair Othello had with Desdemona. The obvious notion that Lago had was that Othello would kill his competition. In contrast of notions and deeds, we see that Othello had positive thoughts and his dear friend and he even defended when need arose. Their relation only proves how any person can be vulnerable to deceit and self destruction. It is sad that Othello let Lago control his thoughts and deeds. The sequence of the scenes and how Othello behaves in different surroundings also profiles him as a very noble person.

The scenes shift between being tense, romantic and spiteful, despite this we realize that protagonist behaves benevolently in most of them until the point he felt that he could take it no more; thanks to Lago. When cruising through the scenes, we realize that Lago has somewhat become the central character as when he is not there, his shadow is seen in how Othello behaves. The level of contact and communication between these two characters even surpasses how the protagonist relates to his own wife; Desdemona. The underlying message here is that the theme of leadership is the one that is on emphasis. The post Othello holds in the society and his racial background also gives the dynamics how leadership selection and election should be. The cases presented to the senate show a leader should behave and how cases should be handled. I think the last scenes were scripted to intentionally lean on the romantic theme so that the audience attention doesn't waver or as had said before; so that the authorities couldn't smell malice in the writing.

The materials used were the play; OTHELLO written by William Shakespeare and the online articles that supported the analysis that leadership theme was central in the play in question. To get a clear view of the topic I had to keenly analyze the scenes in the play, notice the mood how the protagonist and antagonist behaved in them. I also used psychology scholarly articles to justify if the characters actions came out naturally or if there was a modicum of restraint and moderation despite the outward triggers to behave wildly. I gave an economic touch to this research by stating if the traits portrayed were beneficial or detrimental if possessed by leaders in organizations. Results obtained. There was mixture of both bad and good qualities when Othello was the man in question.

Among the good traits he possessed that made an astounding leader and likable characters were; Taking responsibility, he proved this when Lago came to warn him about the vengeful search that Brabantio had launched on him. Brabantio had an obvious dislike for Othello as he thought that he had used charm and voodoo to woe Desdemona, we can say that Brabantio used this claim on our protagonist as he was not from a white descent. Despite the warning and imminent threat of destruction that the latter faced, he stood firm to his ground as swore not to flee; a matter which he fulfilled. He was ready to face the consequences if need be because he believed that what he did was true. He showed respect to his foes and elders whenever he was addressing them, such a scenario were when he was presented to the senate to answer a case where Brabantio had accused him of charming his daughter.

He praised the senators by referring to them as his very noble and approved masters. The word masters is emphasized cause it meant that despite his post, he still acknowledged that he fell under the laws of the land.He was a peace maker; this was evident when an infuriated Brabantio approached him with his swordsmen. Instead of reacting in panic, fear or anger, he diffused the tension with a joke and proved he was a peace maker. It is evident that he had skills in war and he would have opted to use them in that moment if he was a selfish and ruthless leader. He opted not to because he knew there are civilized ways of solving matters. His composed and eloquent character made him stand out in all the scenes, the writer made it appear like he was the most learned person in the whole play. He maintains his composure When being presented at the senate for heinous claims and still achieves a rhyme when speaking, he says signor masters daughter and her in one sentence.

We see some senators showing admiration to the protagonist. Jealousy and gullibility are some of the negative traits that Othello exhibits. He lets Lago's words get into his and hood his judgment. He tends to lay so much trust in the antagonist that he doesn't bother verifying the authenticity of the words; a matter that culminated to his tragic demise. The jealous he feels for the rumored relationship between his wife and Cassio prove him emotionally weak, also a matter that leads to the tragic end of the play. He thought Self depreciation warranted him to depreciate Cassio's abilities. He acknowledged his own weaknesses and assumed that his love opponent that was a much lesser man than him. This is a very worrying trait for a business leader to posses as it doesn't lead to solving of a problem.

He was overconfident in his doings and words. He used outrageous words to demean Cassio and filled his head with ideas that Cassio was lesser man hence could not compete with him in any way. It is by this assumptions that he starting plotting to kill his wife and her purported lover.He was emotionally weak. This trait was not evident at the beginning when he stayed to meet eye to eye with Brabantio but when he let Lago get into his head he lost his entire cool and behaved like an uncivilized moron by ending his own life.

Discussion and Conclusion

From the above results we notice that all men can be vulnerable to bad influence, if only Othello had kept Lago a little bit far from him they he would have maintained his reputation as a perfect leader. The positive traits that have elaborated can help the managers in decision making and situation handling in the corporate world (stein-2005). A leader must learn to be responsible and accountable for his own actions when he feels that what he did was right.

Even if he is wrong, he must judge himself harshly as failure leads to experience. From Othello's descent we learn that race does not determine ones traits, Othello was not a pure white man but he proved to be wiser and more composed than Lago. With inference from the original text and the examples I used, we reach a conclusion that leadership is truly the main theme in the play and that love is only used as style to attract the audience and capture its attention.


  1. An online article written by Helen Pluckrose on 19th January 2017Evolution psychology in the humanities: Shakespeare's Othello
  2. Scholarly journal by M Stein written in 2005The Othello conundrum: the inner contagion of leadership
Leadership Theme in Othello essay

Related Questions

on Leadership Theme in Othello

How is Othello a good leader?

Othello is a great leader because he is displayed as a confidence person. Confidence is one of the traits of a great leader because it helps them in making decisions and commanding the people that they lead. Othello is just a minority in that society but he is being needed by the government due to his special talent.

What is the main theme of Othello?

The text is a rich tapestry of plot, character, poetry, and theme – elements which come together to form one of the Bard's most engaging tragedies. Shakespeare’s Othello is a Moor, a Black man - indeed, one of the first Black heroes in English literature. The play deals with interracial marriage.

How did Othello gain power in the play?

Throughout the play, various male figures seek to assert and protect their manhood and their honor. Based on the Duke's regard for him in 1.3, it is clear that Othello has attained political power through his military might.

What does Othello teach us about trust and openness?

Othello illustrates what can happen when openness and trust do not exist in an organization. For those who are not familiar with the story, the work revolves around four central characters: Othello, a Moorish general in the Venetian army; his wife Desdemona; his lieutenant, Cassio; and his trusted ensign, Iago.

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