Internet Shakespeare Editions


Religion and Suicide

At a time when the notions of old-world chivalry were meeting those of emerging Christianity, the ideas surrounding what was right were changing. Othello seems at times to be caught between the old and the new. Honour is so important that Cassio is more afraid of losing his reputation than his life; all that is left once his reputation is gone is "bestial."

Suicide in the waning days of an age of honour is one of the most complex issues in Shakespearean tragedy. Was Othello's action in taking his own life, in order to protect the state that he had always served, admirable? Alternatively, was he damning himself by the rules of the religion he upheld, which strictly forbids suicide?