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The Story That Started It All William Shakespeare based his play Othello on a story called Hecatommithi by Giraldi Cinthios This was a collection of a hundred tales that was printed in Italy in the sixteenth century It is thought that Shakespeare read the original Italian version and got inspired to write his own In writing his own version Shakespeare kept most of the original ideas but also added some of his own twists Giraldi Giovanni Battista 1504-73 Italian author known also as Cinthio Cintio Cinzio or Cyntius He wrote tragedies lyric verse and tales Some of the stories in his Hecatommithi one hundred tales 1565 were translated by Whetstone and other 16th-century English writers Info Please The plot of Shakespeares Othello is largely taken from Giraldi Cinthios Hecatommithi a tale of love jealousy and betrayal however the characters themes and attitudes of the works are vastly different with Shakespeares play being a more involved study of human nature and psychology There are however a few deviations from Shakespeares source one of which being the motivations of the Iago figure Cinthios Iago was driven to revenge when Desdemona refused to have an affair with him Iagos motivations are not nearly so plain in Shakespeares version Shakespeare tired to get the point of jealousy across more then revenge Othello The idea of Othello returning to the bestial state through the bare-handed murder of Desdemona is wholly Shakespeares In the main source for Othello Hecatommithi the murder of Desdemona or Disdemona as she is named in the story is a stunningly violent act In Hecatommithi Iago beats Disdemona with a stocking filled with sand and then he and the Moor knock down the ceiling to break her skull Cinthio makes no mention of Othello ever touching his wife The only named character in Cinthios story is Disdemona the other characters are identified only as the standard-bearermeaning Iago the captain who is Cassio and the Moor
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