While reading Othello one has to look especially at the settings of the play. The play starts in a Venetian street but ultimately moves to Cyprus and remains there 'till the end. There are various motives in the shifting of the play. First of all, we have to see the difference of the both the states in physical terms. Venice is metropolitan, whereas Cyprus is an underdeveloped city. Similarly, Venice is the colonizer and Cyprus is the colonized. Cyprus is an island covered with water from all the four sides, whereas Venice has water running in the city in form of various canals. All these things contribute to the main action of the play. I will analyse them individually and separately.
In a metropolitan area, it was very difficult for Shakespeare to give us a story about the domestic problems of a general. Had the play been set in Venice, the focus would have been and should have been upon the professional life of the general. By moving the play to a city located on margin, Shakespeare had a liberty to talk about the domestic chores of Othello. Similarly, moving the play from the capital to an island also gives an opportunity to seclude both Othello and Desdemona. Moreover, Iago will have more opportunities to have interaction with Othello on a personal level. And eventually, had the play been in Venice, a person like Othello, suffering from inferiority complex, might not be able to kill the daughter of an influential man.
The journey to Cyprus also serves the purpose of the writer. We see that ships of Othello and Desdemona are parted from each other, hence giving the audience a foresight into the separation between Othello and Desdemona that is eventually going to take place.
Shakespeare may have also moved the play from Venice to Cyprus to demonstrate the course of their love. Venice is a place of love and affection. Yet, Cyprus is where the war takes place. The beginning of the play. The couple were in love and happy with each other. Once the setting was changed to Cyprus the course of the love went downhill. The places were mean to symbolize love.
Venice is the capital and place of law. The setting in Venice represents order and reason. Cyprus represents passion and confusion. Othello's rationalization deteriorates while in Cyprus, as he exclaims in a nonsensical manner, "Handkerchief--confessions--handkerchief!...It is not words that shake me thus. Pish! Noses, ears, lips. Is't possible?--confess?--Handkerchief?--Oh, devil!"
"Cyprus" means Venice. Confusion develops by the settings' different toponyms while having similar meanings.