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Analysis of the Tragedy of "Othello" William Shakespeare is considered to be among the greatest playwrights that have ever lived. He has written dozens and dozens of brilliant plays, most of those plays have been made into movies. One such play that has been made into a movie is "Othello." The play "Othello" is one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies. It is about a black general in the Italian army, Othello, and what happened between him and his wife, Desdemona. The main villain in this play is Iago; who is a soldier under Othello's command. Iago tells Othello numerous lies about Desdemona and Othello's friend, and former right-hand man, Cassio. Shakespeare covers quite a few of the major issues that are still facing society today. These themes such as ethnicity, betrayal, and love are what make this play one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies. One of the more noticeable themes that Shakespeare discusses in this play is Ethnicity. Othello is a moor that somehow managed to climb his way up the ladder to the rank of general. At this time in history, blacks were considered to be barbarians, and murderous heathens. It is a very rare thing that a black man would be able to obtain the rank of general in a predominantly Caucasian army. It caused quite a bit of jealousy among the other officers serving under Othello. This element may have fueled the fire behind Iago's lies and hatred for Othello. Another example when the ethnicity of Othello caused a problem was when he and Desdemona were married. Desdemona's father is furious over his daughter marrying a moor. They even end up going to an Italian court to settle this matter. Normally Othello would have been executed for his actions, but because he was needed to lead the army he was allowed...
pages: 4 (words: 918)
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added: 09/02/2011
'Once upon a time' tales are the classic stories told to children for generations. Such stories involving, usually, poor miserable souls like Cinderella who eventually find happiness and riches which give those less fortunate souls a sense of hope. Shakespeare's 'Othello' however is on the opposite ends of the spectrum. It shows the downfall from grace of the 'hero' through the chink in his armour being infiltrated, by Iago, a jealous officer who through a series of one to one conversations is able to gain the trust of all of the characters in the play and then abusing it. Although through use of dramatic Irony this can only be recognised by the audience, which allows this play to become an interactive masterpiece. Shakespeare begins the play with a highly charged atmosphere between two characters, Iago and Roderigo. Who are discussing their General Othello when Iago slanders him 'An old black ram' It is from this conversation that our image of this Othello is one in which he is lustful, devious and altogether loathed by all. This conjured image is instantly discredited at the start of scene two, through the use of dramatic irony as Iago, who was formally plotting with Roderigo, against Othello, hypocritically tells Othello that he would love to have killed Roderigo when he abuses his generals honour. 'I had thought t'have yerked him here under the ribs' 'But he prated And spoke such scurvy and provoking terms Against your honour,' It is now that the audience can decide on their own judgement of Othello, through his speech, his actions and his words. When challenged by Brabantio and his guards with almost imminent bloodshed, Othello, clears the air with a joke, 'Keep up the bright swords, for the dew will rust them', It is here that Othello displays his self-control and also his leadership qualities. Which is again demonstrated...
pages: 3 (words: 625)
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added: 11/06/2011
In many of the literature written in Shakespearean time puns were used, to add pizzazz, and comic relieve. This is true about William Shakespeare's Othello, but what separates this story's puns from the others is the way Shakespeare had characters respond to it, developing the character greater in the reader's mind. Two scenes of this play included a clown who talked many with puns. Shakespeare included this clown not only for comic relieve, but to throw light on the characters. The first scene the clown is introduced in is act three scene one. In the beginning of this scene, the reader can tell the clown is included to relief tension. Right when the clown enters the scene, he starts of making fun of the musicians saying, "Why, masters, have your instruments been in/ Naples that they speak I' th' nose thus?" (III. I. 3-4). Thus, one can infer that this is merely comic relief, because there is no better time to include comic relieve than after a serious scene. In the scene prior to this one Cassio and Roderigo got in an affray. A few lines later, after the musicians leave, Cassio and the clown are by themselves, and Cassio asks; "Dost thou hear me, mine hones friend?"(III. i. 21). The clown responds with a pun, "No. I hear not your honest friend. I hear you"(III. i. 22). This clearly states that the clown is being funny, but what is interesting is the way Cassio responds and shows something about his character. He responds by saying, "Prithee keep up thy quillets[puns]…", and then goes on to ask the clown to do him favor. This shows the reader, indirectly, that Cassio is a serious person and does not joke around much. This foreshadows the way Cassio may act in the future scenes. The...
pages: 2 (words: 539)
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added: 11/01/2011
Perhaps the most interesting and exotic character in the tragic play "Othello," by William Shakespeare, is "Honest" Iago. Through some carefully thought-out words and actions, Iago is able to manipulate others to do things in a way that benefits him and moves him closer toward his goals. He is the main driving force in this play, pushing Othello and everyone else towards their tragic end. Iago is not your ordinary villain. The role he plays is rather unique and complex, far from what one might expect. Iago is smart. He is an expert judge of people and their characters and uses this to his advantage. For example, he knows Roderigo is in love with Desdemona and figures that he would do anything to have her as his own. Iago says about Roderigo, "Thus do I ever make my fool my purse." [Act I, Scene III, Line 355] By playing on his hopes, Iago is able to swindle money and jewels from Roderigo, making himself a substantial profit, while using Roderigo to forward his other goals. He also thinks quick on his feet and is able to improvise whenever something unexpected occurs. When Cassio takes hold of Desdemona's hand before the arrival of the Moor Othello, Iago says, "With as little a web as this will I ensnare as great a fly as Cassio." [Act II, Scene I, Line 163] His cunning and craftiness make him a truly dastardly villain indeed. Being as smart as he is, Iago is quick to recognize the advantages of trust and uses it as a tool to forward his purposes. Throughout the story he is commonly known as, and commonly called, "Honest Iago." He even says of himself, "I am an honest man...." [Act II, Scene III, Line 245] Trust is a very powerful emotion that is...
pages: 4 (words: 931)
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added: 12/14/2011
In the play Othello, William Shakespeare combines the imagery of love and war to give the observer a detail look into the personality of the main character Othello. Shakespeare explains with little detail how Othello's military life overruled his civilian a sense Othello was unable to live a 'normal' life and interact with ordinary citizens because of his love for war. Evidently, Othello's failure to make the transition from military strong-man to a rational thinking human being and lover led to his tragic yet self-endured demise. Othello clings to the glory he receives from his military career and places little effects on his new life as a civilian. To better understand the tragedy of Othello one must understand the role that his experiences with war affected him. The experience that made Othello what he was and to a certain extant what he became. Before and above all else, Othello is a soldier. From the earliest moments in the play, his career affects his married life. Asking "fit disposition" for his wife after being ordered to Cyprus (I.iii.234), Othello notes that "the tyrant custom … / Hath made the flinty and steel couch of war / My thrice-driven bed of down" (I.iii.227–229). While Desdemona is used to better "accommodation," she nevertheless accompanies her husband to Cyprus (I.iii.236). Moreover, she seems unperturbed by the tempest or Turks that threatened their crossing, and genuinely curious rather than irate when she is roused from bed by the drunken brawl in Act II, scene iii. She is, indeed, Othello's "fair warrior," and he is happiest when he has her by his side in the midst of military conflict or business (II.i.179). The military also provides Othello with a means to gain belonging in Venetian society. While the Venetians in the play are generally fearful of...
pages: 3 (words: 799)
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added: 10/19/2011
A tragedy without meaning 'Othello' is not, as the very genre of tragedy seeks to imitate action and life, both of which have an inherit meaning. In some ways, Shakespeare's work can be considered didactic as in the case in classical tragedy, the hero's falls arises as fault of a hamartia on his part, a fault which plagues humanity. In fact, throughout the work, Othello is revealed to have many more faults and weaknesses than a man of his stature should posses, providing a reason for his downfall. The work's main protagonist, the scheming Iago, ultimately has his own reasons for his actions; actions which on surface value might appear to be inherently evil and motiveless. A third variable here, the role of the setting, and its part in the tragedy also helps to explain the reasons for it. Through Iago's motives, and Othello's inherit weaknesses, the tragedy of the play is meaningful for the audience. By examining Iago's actions and his soliloquies the audience is able to discern that Iago does indeed have motives for his actions, however weak they may be. Despite Iago recognising that indeed the moor 'is of a free and open nature' (Oth Act 1 Sc. 3 ll. 381), he still does despise him. Iago has to be examined closer to discover his motives: of course, he is jealous of Cassio's appointment as Othello's lieutenant and this is an ultimate irony in itself as he later mocks Othello for his own jealousy, having succumbed to the 'green-eyed monster'. There is also of course Iago's blatant racial slurs and hatred towards Othello, and his paranoia regarding the supposed infidelity of his wife, 'And it is thought abroad that 'twixt my sheets he's done my office' (Oth Act 1 Sc. 3 ll. 369-370). However, the latter excuse may...
pages: 8 (words: 2010)
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added: 12/04/2011
Manipulating Roderigo In Othello, Iago serves as a clever manipulator. He uses his skills on the stupid and naïve Roderigo to get revenge on Othello. Iago's main reason for his hatred of Othello is because he is passed over for the lieutenant position given to Michael Cassio. Iago also seems to have delight in the manipulation and destruction he is causes. One major way Iago uses his manipulation on Roderigo is by jealousy. At the start of the play, we hear a conversation between Roderigo and Iago. Roderigo is angry because he has been giving money to Iago to help him gain the love of Desdemona, but he learns of Desdemona's marriage to Othello. Also in Act one Scene one Iago convinces Roderigo to spoil Othello's marriage by stirring Desdemona's family against the Moor. At the end of Act one Iago has his first soliloquy. Iago says, "Thus do I ever make my fool my purse:/ For I mine own gained knowledge should profane/ If I would time expend with such a snipe/ But for my sport and profit" (1.3.384-387). He reveals his plan of cheating Roderigo out of his money and giving him unfulfilled promises. Another example of his manipulation occurs at the end of Act two Scene one. Iago explains to Roderigo that Desdemona will soon grow tired of Othello and will look for a more well-mannered and handsome man. He says that Cassio will be her first choice because he has seen them holding hands. Roderigo argues that Cassio was just being polite, but Iago persuaded him of Cassio's intentions. Iago then urges him to start a fight with Cassio. Iago encourages the fight because he wants revenge on Cassio for being promoted to the lieutenant position. Iago shows his masterful manipulation skills by having Roderigo being almost invisible...
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added: 01/30/2012
In what ways does Shakespeare create his impression of life in Venice and in what ways does he emphasise Othello's differences from the Venetians? How do you as a modern reader respond to the society depicted here? Shakespeare portrays Venice as incredibly advanced for its time. This is seen especially though its democratic justice system, as we are shown that in Act One everybody has a voice regardless of their colour or sex. The fact that Othello has obtained the high position of "general" within the army suggests that his chances have by no means been restricted by the colour of his skin. Also the fact that he is treated with the utmost respect from the Duke, the highest authority in Venice, shows that the colour of ones skin is not seen as a disadvantage in Venetian society. We are aware of its reputation as a very sexual city through the booming sex trade and it is viewed as a very cosmopolitan city due to its importance as a trading port. The white Venetians in "Othello" do for the most part exemplify the good qualities of their city and culture, which oozes civility and sophistication. This can be seen through the Duke's language: "Valiant Othello, we must straight employ you against the general enemy ottoman. (To Brabantio) I did not see you: welcome, gentle signor". However in Act One, Shakespeare uses the words of three Venetians to emphasise differences in Othello's character from other Venetians. Shakespeare chooses these characters to highlight Othello's differences, as they are infested with anger, jealousy and bitterness, therefore their descriptions of Othello are deceiving. The playwright uses these characters to paint a picture of Othello as the embodiment of the black stereotype held by people at this time, labelling him as "different" to everyone else. The use...
pages: 6 (words: 1588)
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added: 10/31/2011
Of all the characters presented in Shakespeare's literature the most sinister one is without a doubt Iago. He is a ruthless sociopath. No other character can even come close to his evil. Most of the antagonists present in Shakespeare's plays have valid reasons for the troubles the cause. Iago doesn't for the most part he just has a burning hatred for the world especially Othello. Iago is the whole reason there is any conflict in Othello . If he never had entered the play Othello would have married Desdimonia and they would have lived happily ever after. Right from the beginning of the play to the very end he causes conflicts. He is directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of: Othello Desdimona, Emilia, Cassio, and Roderigo. Which happen to be all of the main characters. I believe Shakespeare didn't just want Iago's character to be evil. I think he wanted him more to symbolize it. All of the problems he causes are through lies, treachery, manipulation, and a deep unknown hate. Some of his hate is fueled by jealousy and revenge. The ironic part is that he wants to be known as "honest Iago". Every act contains an evil plot set up by Iago. They all play into his "grand scheme". In the very beginning of act 1 Iago displays his hatred for Othello. He is angry at him for making Cassio the lieutenant. Jealousy is his first motif. He than tells Roderigo (a former suitor of Desdimonia) that Othello and Desdimonia are getting married. The two of them then go and tell Desdimonia's father, Brabantio that Othello and his daughter just got eloped. This infuriates Brabantio. Soon after Brabantio gets a gang after Othello. Iago's treachery is first displayed hear. When Othello is confronted Iago is on his side. Iago...
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added: 12/11/2011
In What Way Would A Modern Audience React To The Way Race And Racism Is Portrayed In 'Othello'? In the Sixteenth century, as we see clearly from Othello and other works of both Shakespeare and Cinthio's original version of Othello, race was a topic of great debate and discussion. Today, in the twenty-first century the debate retains its controversy and passion. However, attitudes towards race have taken a dramatic turn during the last century. In the developed world people are now living in an increasingly cosmopolitan society would undoubtedly be more tolerant and would reject or even be offended by racial discrimination to any person or sections of the community. Openly 'racist' people today are seen as outcasts. Taking this into account, the way a modern audience would react to race and racism in Othello is dependent upon the way in which that modern audience would interpret 'Othello'. This prompts the questions of what sort of message Shakespeare wanted to send to his audience and was Othello the moor portrayed as a tragic hero or did his character eventually come to resemble the prejudices of which he was a victim. Shakespeare also discusses the issue of race with other characters such as the hateful Iago and the prejudices hidden deep in Barbantio. The actions of Barbantio initiate the interest in the race issue in Act 1 Scene 1 more so than Iago's foul abuses because the type of hidden racism is actually present in modern society. Barbantio disapproves of his daughter ever marrying Roderigo who has not got a good reputation with him but after listening to Iago tell him that his daughter is seeing a moor he wishes Roderigo, "...O, Would you had had her!" Thus Barbantio suggests that a disrespected white man is superior to a respected noble and gentleman in the...
pages: 7 (words: 1759)
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added: 02/16/2012
Shakespearean Tragedy Involving Jealousy, Trust, & Pride William Shakespeare's play "Othello" is a perfect example of classic Shakespearean tragedy. The tragic hero in this play is the main character, Othello. Othello's misfortune comes about because of his jealousy, trust, and his pride. Jealousy is the main factor that appears to destroy Othello. Iago is the initiator of the chain of events that sparks jealousy in Othello, and eventually leads to the downfall of not only the main character, but also of most of the significant characters in the book. In the beginning of the book, Iago is known as "honest Iago", however, throughout the play, he constantly lies and conspires evil plans to get even at Othello. "Despise me if I do not. Three great ones of the city, in personal suit to make me his lieutenant, off-capped to him, and by the faith of man, I know my price; I am worth no worse a place. But he, as loving his own pride and purposes, evades them with a bombast circumstance. Horribly stuffed with epithets of war; Nonsuits my mediators; for, 'Certes,' says he, 'I have already chosen my officer.' And what was he? Forsooth, a great arithmetician, one Michael Cassio, a Florentine, that never set a squadron in the field…" (pg.27-28). This quote demonstrates that Iago has a grudge against Othello. It may seem as if Iago caused Othello's downfall, however this is not the case. It can be argued that if Othello had not been so blindly jealous and trusting in Iago, he would have seen his evil plan to destroy him. Throughout the book, Iago constantly convinces Othello of things that aren't true. Othello believes Iago because he has so much trust in him. Othello believes everything that Iago tells him without actually seeking the truth. This leads Othello...
pages: 3 (words: 570)
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added: 01/31/2012
Desdemona appears to be the perfect woman and is destroyed by the supposedly perfect man, Othello. Desdemona is the depicted perfect woman; she is subservient and loyal to her husband and she is from a sheltered and refined background. Othello, her husband, is the proffered example of masculine male perfection. Othello is man of motion, a strong warrior who acts in concurrence with his convictions and honor. Shakespeare proves that Othello is fallible too, destroyed for believing hearsay over his wife. Shakespeare in this play chooses to manipulate the ideals of a society and their striving towards perfection. Othello shows through morbid humor what can result from blind faith of believing in something as abstract as perfection. Therefore, perfection is impossible and destroys itself because it is an unnatural state. Desdemona is depicted as female perfection throughout the opening scenes of the play. This is done through showing her strong and loyal characteristics and her love to Othello. Desdemona is shown as a woman who is independent and intelligent, willing to do anything for the sake of her love. In act one this includes standing before the Duke, her father, and the male senate of her patriarchal society and demanding to be listened to. I do perceive here a divided duty. To [my father] I am bound for life and education… You are the lord of duty, I am hitherto your daughter. But here's my husband, And so much duty as my mother showed To you, preferring you before her father, So much I challenge that I may profess Due to the Moor my lord (Othello, 1.3.180-189). Desdemona shares a lot of her value system and ideals in this passage. She shows her loyalty and love for her father and her understanding of her duty to him as his daughter in the first four lines. Underlying, her portrayal as dutiful...
pages: 5 (words: 1234)
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added: 02/12/2012
Throughout Shakespeare's Othello, the major theme of jealousy is apparent. According to Microsoft Bookshelf, jealousy, by definition, means "resentful or bitter in rivalry." The tragedy Othello focuses on the doom of Othello and the other major characters as a result of jealousy. The theme of jealousy is prominent throughout the play as it motivates the characters' actions. In Shakespeare's Othello, jealousy is portrayed through the major characters of Iago and Othello. It utterly corrupts their lives because it causes Iago to show his true self, which in turn triggers Othello to undergo an absolute conversion that destroys the lives of their friends. Iago, "most honest" (I, iii, 7) in the eyes of his companions, is, in fact, truly the opposite. His feelings of jealousy uncovers his actual self. D.R. Godfrey concludes this after hearing Iago state that he "ha' look'd upon the world for four times seven years" (I, iii, 311-2). In his essay, Godfrey explains that Iago "has arrived at one of the great seven year…critical stages" (421) of his life, causing him to become "jealous, embittered, … [and] vengeful." (421). Iago's dupe, Roderigo, is the only person, in fact, to know this previously; Iago tells Roderigo that he is "not what [he is]" (I, i, 69). He possesses this jealousy because he is distressed that Othello chose Michael Cassio, a "valiant" (II, i, 98), "Florentine…arithmetician" (I, i, 19-20), over himself for the position of lieutenancy. Jealousy "divorces [Iago]…from rationality", Godfrey states (418). This loss of rational causes Iago to "make a life of jealousy" (III, iii, 204) and plots to destroy Othello. Although Iago has a reputation of being "full of love and honesty" (III, iii, 138), he is responsible for destroying many lives and is considered "perhaps one of the most villainous characters in all literature" (Godfrey 422)....
pages: 4 (words: 918)
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added: 10/16/2011