A Strong and Willful Lady
That the character Desdemona in Shakespeare’s play Othello holds on to her dignified manner until the very end, when she is murdered by her jealous husband, is indicative not only of her chaste mind, but also of her willful determination. Given that women of the time were largely seen as second-class citizens and mostly one of two extremes – either virtuous or licentious – some readers will understandably view her as weak and passive. Desdemona’s strengths, however, are clearly illustrated in three pivotal scenes in Shakespeare’s play: in her resolute plan to assist Cassio back into her husband’s good graces; in her poise when confronted with her husband’s crumbling gentlemanly facade; and finally, perhaps most dramatically, in the dignified way she faces her own demise head-on, feeble on protestations, yet overflowing with grace.
In Act 3, Scene 3, readers find Desdemona not sitting idly by like somebody’s lapdog, but rather taking it upon herself to formulate a plan to help Lieutenant Cassio, who has been demoted at Othello’s instruction. Her intention is to get her husband, Othello, to see how loyal a servant Cassio has been. We can presume that here loyalty begets forgiveness, for only after Cassio had a drunken mishap, albeit at the instigation of the underhanded Iago, does Cassio earn Othello’s contempt and subsequent demotion. Desdemona reminds the audience of Cassio’s devotion to Othello, remarking to Cassio, “You do love my lord” (57, line 9).
We read, on pages 57-58, not of a shrinking violet who formulates this plan, but of a proactive, calculating Desdemona, who promises Cassio:
I give thee warrant of thy place. Assure thee,
If I do vow a friendship, I’ll perform it
To the last article. My lord shall never rest;
I’ll watch him tame and talk him out of patience;
His bed shall seem a school, his board a shrift;
I’ll intermingle everything he does
With Cassio’s suit. Therefore be merry, Cassio,
For thy solicitor shall rather die
Than give thy cause away (lines 20-28).
Even as her husband, Othello, enters and is mistakenly led to believe something is amiss between his wife and Cassio, Desdemona sticks to her resolution. Of course, she knows not what insidious thoughts Iago has planted in Othello’s head, and she stands up for Cassio as she has assured him she would. She tells Othello of Cassio’s unwavering dedication, and boldly requests that her husband meet with Cassio to discuss “a man [Cassio] that languishes in your displeasure” (58, line 43). Othello dismisses her request several times, and still she persists. She does not feebly submit to her husband’s resistance, but stubbornly repeats her request, asking him: “Why then, tomorrow night, on Tuesday / morn, / On Tuesday noon, or night, on Wednesday morn. / I prithee name the time, but let it not / Exceed three days” (59, lines 59-63). She further tells her husband, “In faith, he’s [Cassio is] penitent” (59, line 63). Would not a passive woman meekly acquiesce to her husband’s opposition and simply drop the matter?
Next, during Act 4, Scene 2, Desdemona proves herself a lady in her discussion with the evil Iago, who, unbeknownst to her, is the cause of her chagrin. She laments that Othello has called her a whore, yet she herself does not stoop to ad hominem insults. Proudly, she declares, “Unkindness may do much” and, in a moment of chilling foreshadowing, adds “And his [Othello’s] unkindness may defeat my life” (100, lines 158-59).
This is a woman who is arguably virtuous to a fault, such class does she exhibit here. She states, “I cannot even say ‘whore.’ / It does abhor me now I speak the word; / To do the act that might the addition earn / Not the world’s mass of vanity could make me” (100, lines 160-63).
Finally, in Act 5, Scene 2, during the tragic conclusion of the play, when Othello smothers his beloved Desdemona in the mistaken belief of her infidelity, she nonetheless leaves the play with dignity. She does not wail or behave like a coward. Instead, she merely states: “O, falsely, falsely murdered!” (119, line116). Readers are left to wonder if she is referring to herself or to Cassio; regardless, these words are simply matter-of-fact and are not the emotion-driven cries one would normally expect from a person facing her own execution.
As to her dying breath, Desdemona states plainly, “A guiltless death I die” (119, line 121). Her mistress Emilia, obviously overcome with emotion, can scarcely believe her [Emilia’s] ears. She beseeches Desdemona to name the killer, wailing, “Help! Help, ho! Help! O lady, speak again!” (119, line 119) and “O, who hath done this deed?” (119, line 122).
With a quiet composure not many would be able to muster on their deathbed, no less a murder victim killed by a beloved spouse, Desdemona cryptically tells Emilia, “Nobody—I myself. Farewell” (119, line 123).
And therein this shocking climactic scene is the end of Desdemona. Was she a self-loving character who had the ability to love others unconditionally? Or was she a fool who accepted what was then largely seen as the female’s lot in life in the mistaken belief that, by doing so, she was being righteous? Othello seems a far weaker character to allow himself to slay his beloved due to his own misguided vanity and jealousy, than does Desdemona in meeting her own demise with dignity. Her characterizations in the above examples establish that she surrendered not to her husband, but rather to her own ideals of what it means to be unsullied.
Readers are well-advised to recall that this is a woman who publicly defied her father in order to marry the man she loved – a man who, ultimately, was her undoing. In the end, Desdemona proved herself to be not a fragile, frail example of a naïve young woman, but rather the epitome of a strong, willful lady.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Othello: Comparison of the Theme of Female Conformity
Emilia from Othello and Helena from A Midsummer Night’s Dream both experience a constant battle against the institutions of men, such as marriage and courting. These institutions have the implications of turning these women against their own sex and self because of the institutions’ placing of gender upon them. Both voice their complaints against these institutions as well as conform to the standards set by them, but in the end are eventually silenced by the institutions, relating the idea that conformity to these institutions is not a choice, but a way of life or death for these women.
When Helena first appears in Act 1 she is inseparable from her irrational love for a man. She dotes on Demetrius, but he finds Hermia more attractive. This causes Helena to wish that she was not herself, which begins her cycle of self-deprecation: “How happy some o’er other some can be! Through Athens I am thought as fair as she. But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so;”(1.1.226-228). Even though she is believed to be beautiful by all of Athens, she only desires the affection and admiration of one man without this she is nothing. Essentially, she wants to be someone or something else to gain Demetrius’ favor, which becomes more evident as the characters enter the woods. In this monologue by Helena she mentions that Hermia stole Demetrius’ love from her, which deepens the intra-gender rivalry. This institution of courting and wooing sets up a division between the female sex as they vie for the desire of males. Although Hermia is not to blame for Demetrius’ interest in her, Helena places the burden upon her instead of Demetrius because she loves him. This creates a break within female companionship, and thereby making the men in this play all the more powerful and enhancing their control through the method of divide and conquer. This idea becomes clearer as the play ventures into the magical woods, where roles come into question.
Emilia faces a similar situation with her husband Iago and her lady Desdemona. The problem that presents itself is Othello’s handkerchief, a seemingly meaningless object that comes to mean everything. Emilia’s job as an attendant becomes significant because her duty is to protect her lady, but also is “employed” by Iago to be his wife. Immediately she has become caught between the sexes and must choose between her own and her husband. Before the handkerchief situation, she is completely subject to her husband’s needs, which leaves her open to his abuse. In Act 2 Scene 1, Iago goes on a tirade about women in front of Desdemona and Emilia, harshly criticizing Emilia for her treatment of him. Emilia is silenced by her husband and it is Desdemona that speaks up for her: “O, fie upon thee, slanderer!” (2.1.129). Reversely, Emilia later favors Iago by giving him the handkerchief sealing Desdemona’s fate and death, by catering to her husband she gets another woman silenced forever. However, it is Desdemona’s situation with Othello that brings Emilia to criticize the institutions of men and men in general, but until this point she is totally enamored of her husband as noted when she states what she will do with the handkerchief: “ And give’t Iago. What he will do with it heaven knows, not I; I nothing but to please his fantasy” (3.3.335). Her words “I nothing” call attention to the dehumanization and deprecation of herself. She does not say “I am,” which furthers the idea that she does not see herself as anything, but as servant to Iago. Interestingly, Iago’s name begins with an “I”, Shakespeare uses this capital letter to indicate throughout the play the deception and penetration of Iago’s schemes, and in this instance it implies his control over Emilia. In addition, she echoes Helena, who is also willing to do anything to please her man and knows of nothing else. Now that both women have been placed in precarious situations by the institutions, it allows for them to criticize the very institutions that placed them there. The situations that these two women are put in by the institutions allow them to question the very institutions that they are entrapped.
Helena begins questioning the institutions of men within the forest, where the laws of Athens do not apply. It is within this realm that she is able to question the powers that be, because when she returns to Athens she is re-subjected to male dominance and no longer voices complaints. However, within the forest she becomes a dynamic character rather than her simply overly loving one. In the beginning of the forest sequence, Helena humiliates herself in front of Demetrius by begging for his love: “What worser place can I beg in your love-And yet a place of high respect with me- than to be used as you use your dog” (2.1.208-210). This can be likened to Emilia’s removal of the word “am” in her speech in that it subjects her to men, however Helena’s rhetoric degradation is far less subtle emphasizing her plight for love and irreconcilable desire for Demetrius. Her attempt to “woo” Demetrius ultimately fails in “her opinion” because of a difference between the sexes as she notes in her rhyming couplet: “We cannot fight for love, as men may do; We should be wooed, and were not made to woo” (2.1.241-242). Shakespeare uses a couplet to emphasize this difference between the sexes, suggesting that it is not just Helena, but rather all women are unable to woo and must remain passive bystanders to obtain their lovers. In the forest men require potions to begin their wooing of Helena and use a similar technique that Helena used toward Demetrius, but it is Helena’s reaction to this wooing that deserves attention. She has become so corrupted by the male institutions of courtship that she can no longer believe when someone actually has affection for her. Her self-deprecation has led to a belief that others could never fall for her. As Demetrius and Lysander attempt to seduce her she remarks that it is a “…manly enterprise, To conjure tears up in a poor maid’s eyes, (3.2.157-158). She believes that both these men are tricking her and chiding her for her unabated love for Demetrius and that is simply what men do. She finally tires of the scorn she feels from men and no longer wants to be treated in such a manner. She does not mind being hated as much as she wants to be respected by others, which differs entirely from her previous reduction of herself to a canine. Yet again the blunt of her discourse falls upon Hermia, who Helena believes to be in cahoots with Demetrius and Lysander in this “manly enterprise.” She verbally attacks Hermia, noting: “Our sex, as well I may chide you for it, Though I alone do feel the injury” (3.2.218-219). She separates Hermia as a traitor to the sex and creates herself as the sex’s martyr. Because of the men’s actions, which are controlled by other men (Puck, Oberon), both women fall victim to the institutional forces. Men are actually playing games with them, literally because of the actions of Puck and Oberon, but the women fail to see this trickery and find each other to be the enemy. Finally, instead of attacking their oppressors, the women fight against themselves with Hermia trying to gouge Helena’s eyes out, which points to the blindness to the hegemony of men and seeing other women to blame rather than men.
Not seeing men as they truly are also plays a role in Emilia’s relationship with Iago. Emilia only begins to open up to the seedy side of men, due to Othello’s treatment of Desdemona. After Othello has questioned Desdemona about the handkerchief, Emilia remarks about the nature of men: “They are all but stomachs, and we all but food; they eat us hungerly, and when they are full, They belch us” (3.4.116-119). This scene ending speech adds to the list of plights of women, men are only interested as long as women fulfill their needs, but when women are no longer needed they are expelled from men’s lives, which sheds light on Iago’s treatment of her, yet she sees Iago as a glorious man to be honored. Her questioning of the institutions reaches a boiling point, however, in Act 4 Scene 3 in which she examines her position against men. She talks of the equality between the sexes, but having to prove it to the opposite sex: “Why, we have galls; and though we have some grace, Yet we some revenge. Let husbands know, their wives have senses like them” (4.3. 106-109). Although she questions, she also stays within her sphere, she still defines herself as a “wife” and not a woman, which leaves her under Iago’s control. It is not until the end of the play that she finally breaks with her husband and resides on the side of her own sex.
Although both women voice complaints against the male institutions, these institutions eventually silence them. As the characters in Midsummer Night’s Dream exit the forest, the natural order of gender roles returns. Helena no longer voices complaints against Demetrius loving her and instead embraces it: “I have found Demetrius like a jewel, Mine own, and not mine own.” She declares that she does not have ownership of Demetrius even though they are in love, the first time she seems level in the play. However, Demetrius through this relationship does exert his power over her. Even though she appears in the last act, she does not utter a single line of dialogue. She, who has been a constant and lengthy source of dialogue throughout the play has had her power of speech taken away, she has been silenced by finally gaining Demetrius, but in this gain she loses her ability to speak. She is merely a body upon the stage, a prop, which harkens back to male control. Emilia in contrast, who has been silent for the most part of the play in regards to her husband, finally speaks against him. Once she has learned of Othello’s murder of Desdemona and Iago’s role in this tragedy, she speaks: “I will not charm my tongue; I am bound to speak” (5.2.217). For the first time Emilia is fully on the side of her sex, abandoning her husband and protecting the name of Desdemona. But in speaking out, she is silenced by Iago as he stabs her to death. Emilia’s last wish is to be laid by her mistress furthering her full commitment to her sex.
Emilia and Helena are both silenced, but in radically different ways. Interestingly, this is the final institution they face: genre. Though the women have similar views about what should be done with men, they are treated differently in their respective genre. Helena is silenced through marriage, a comedic trope. At the end of the play, all is well in the world of Shakespeare, but from a modern perspective her loss of lines and thoughts remain tragic. Now that Lysander and Helena are coupled, that Lysander speaks for both of them. Her husband silences Emilia because he kills her, making it into a clear-cut tragedy. She becomes a lifeless body on the stage, much in the way Helena has in the final act. Helena experiences a spiritual death, while Emilia is completely eliminated from the play for committing treason against her husband. The genre determines the type of death, but not surprisingly another man has constructed it: Shakespeare.
Helena from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Emilia from Othello allow us to visit the impossible situations that women are put in by men. In these situations, these women struggle with themselves in relation to their male counterparts and these events lead to self-doubt, treason, and love lost or won. The women seem to hate men as well as love them at the same time, thereby questioning institutions as well as conforming to them. Yet these two women differ because of the institution of genre where they reside predetermining their “happy” or tragic ends before their first line is spoken.
Representation Of The Theme Of Jealousy In Othello By William Shakespeare
Othello, a play which was premiered in 1604, was written by William Shakespeare. It is a tragedy which has jealousy as a major theme throughout all the acts. Shakespeare represents the social group of married women in Othello as inherently promiscuous and unfaithful. The author achieves this representation by creating a play in which Venetian men act upon their distrust in married women, in which the women in marriages supposedly are the ones to blame for all misery and in which married women start to question their own behaviour. The reason why Shakespeare represents married women in this manner is to create a way for Othello to become jealous. The author is hereby achieving his purpose of bringing up the theme of jealousy and the destructive powers that it entails, which are a danger for the institution of marriage.
Shakespeare’s first way of representing married women as inherently promiscuous and unfaithful is by introducing the Venetian men in Othello who act upon their distrust in married women. Midway in Othello Iago remarks the following: “Trifles light as air, Are to the jealous confirmations strong, As proofs of holy writ. This may do something.” At this moment Iago realises that Othello only needs some mere suspicion to feed his jealousy. The metaphor, “Trifles light as air”, is used to refer to the handkerchief. While only being “light as air” it will have significant consequences. It will act “as proofs of holy writ” as it will be seen as solid proof to Othello that Desdemona is cheating. In Shakespeare’s Othello the concept of women being property is also used to show that men act upon their distrust. Shakespeare’s comedy, The Merchant of Venice, shows a similar concept of women being someone’s ownership; “This house, these servants, and this same myself. Are yours, my lord’s. I give them with this ring”. In this play a woman by the name of Portia tells her soon to be husband that she, as a property, will be transferred from her father to her husband. Both Othello and The Merchant of Venice demonstrate that men want women to be their property and guard them because they distrust their wives. The conclusions drawn by Othello on the handkerchief and women being seen as property are examples of Venetian men who act upon their distrust in married women and that contributes to the representation of women as inherently promiscuous and unfaithful.
Another way the author shows that married women are represented as inherently promiscuous and unfaithful is by using the assumption that women in marriages supposedly are the ones to blame for all misery. In the third act Emilia ponders about stealing the handkerchief and states: “I am glad I have found this napkin. This was her first remembrance from the Moor. My wayward husband hath a hundred times, Wooed me to steal it.” This stream of consciousness gives the reader an insight into how Iago used Emilia’s willingness to steal the handkerchief to please her husband: “I nothing but to please his fantasy.” Iago and Othello are the true source of all misery fueled by their jealousy. However, both men accuse the women of the problems while they’re not to be held responsible. In the final scene Emilia says that husbands are usually to blame when their wives cheat on them: “The ills we do, their ills instruct us so.” Both excerpts from the play support the idea that men in Othello unrightfully blame the women for all misery. Nonetheless the assumption that women are the source of misery still contributes to the representation of women as being inherently promiscuous and unfaithful.
The play writer lastly also uses uncertainty of the married women who start to question their own behaviour, to represent married women in Othello as inherently promiscuous and unfaithful. Desdemona’s first signs of doubt about herself arise in the following scene: “Desdemona: Am I that name, Iago? Iago: What name, fair lady? Desdemona: Such as she says my lord did say I was. Emilia: He call’d her whore.’ Desdemona once being a strong and confident womaen now is asking Iago whether she is a “whore”. The author uses signs of insecurity, such as Desdemona questioning her own behaviour, to influence the reader into thinking that the women might not be as faithful as they seem. At the end of Othello Desdemona responds to Emilia asking who has harmed her with: ‘Nobody; I myself. Farewell’. Throughout the play Desdemona starts to further question herself and in the end even blames all misery on herself while actually Othello has inflicted the harm on Desdemona. If even the married women in the play start thinking that they are promiscuous or unfaithful why should the reader of the play be convinced of the opposite? These scenes from Othello show the uncertainty of the married women who start to question their own behaviour which supports the concept of the representation of married women in Othello as inherently promiscuous and unfaithful.William Shakespeare has written Othello, a play in which Venetian men act upon their distrust in married women, in which the women in marriages supposedly are the ones to blame for all misery and in which married women start to question their own behaviour.
All in all, the above mentioned elements found in the play are used by Shakespeare to represent the social group of married women in Othello as inherently promiscuous and unfaithful. The reason why Shakespeare represents married women in this manner is to give Othello a reason to be jealous. Doing so the author achieves his purpose of bringing up the theme of jealousy and the destructive powers that it entails, which are a danger for the institution of marriage. Who knows, jealousy related marriage problems might soon be dissolved by modern day’s rising equality of gender.
The Outcomes Of Jealousy And Hatred In Shakespeare’s Othello
Jealousy and vengeance are common emotions that people go through every day. These emotions can drive people to behave and act in a certain way. Sometimes one’s jealousy consumes them so much that they end up doing something that they end up truly regretting it. Shakespeare’s Play, Othello revolves around an African American general named Othello. At the beginning of the book, Othello has recently married Desdemona, and at the same time he appoints Cassio as a lieutenant and because of this Iago is enraged. Upset about not being chosen, Iago soon begins to devise is plan on getting Cassio fired by manipulating Othello that Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio. Throughout the book, Iago continues trying to manipulate Othello, he plants the handkerchief and plans on using it as proof. Iago soon tells Othello that Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio and because of this Othello is extremely upset. At the end of the book, Othello ends up committing actions that were messed up and wrong and people died because of it. Othello soon realizes that he’s been manipulated and regrets every decision he made. However, even though Iago succeeds in manipulating Othello, he is purely bad because of the actions he committed towards Desdemona.
Othello is upset with Desdemona after finding out that she might be having an affair with him and plans his plot to kill her. Iago has recently planted the handkerchief as a way to show that Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio. Once he has planted the handkerchief, Iago tells Othello that Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio. Othello is extremely upset after hearing that Desdemona is having an affair and because of this Othello demands Iago to give him proof, this is when the handkerchief comes into play. Conflicted on what he should do, he comes up with a plan. He said, “Get me some poison, Iago, this night: I’ll not expostulate with her lest her body and beauty unprovide my mind again. This night, Iago. Do it not with poison. Strangle her in her bed, even the bed she hath contaminated. Good, good. The justice of it pleases. Very good”. Othello is conflicted about what he should do, he asks Iago if he should poison Desdemona. Iago who realizes that he has successfully manipulated Othello, suggests the idea to strangle her in the bed she slept in with Cassio.
Due to Othello being conflicted he agrees with Iago’s idea. Now Othello has a motive, he has unveiled his true identity because of his new motive this changes the understanding of Othello. Othello was portrayed as a heroic figure who always has the right judgment and is supposed to be strong and calm. This brings up the question of whether Othello was hiding his true identity? Or whether he was real all along and cared about Desdemona? This proves that Othello is purely evil because of the plan he is trying to plot. Desdemona is confronted by Othello, Othello starts arguing with Desdemona this eventually leads to Othello calling Desdemona a whore which results in Othello converting to violence. Othello has recently found out from Iago that Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio. When Othello heard the news he wasn’t too stoked about it, instead, he was furious. Othello started to plot his plan on murdering Desdemona. At first, he wanted to poison her, but Iago suggested the idea of strangling her in the same bed that she slept in with Cassio. Othello soon walks up to Desdemona and confronts her about the situation. Othello starts yelling at Desdemona about the situation, even though Desdemona looked so confused and clueless. This mad Othello even madder and this is where he snapped, “striking her Devil! I have not deserved this… O, devil, devil! If that the earth could teem with woman’s tears, Each drop she falls would prove a crocodile. Out of my sight! I will not stay to offend you”.
Othello seems to be very upset about this situation. He is so upset about it that he went out of his way to hit Desdemona. In the book, Othello men are portrayed to be a strong, calm, and respectable figure. But in Othello’s case, he has broken the views of men as they aren’t supposed to hit a girl. Furthermore, during the beginning of the book, Othello travels to Cyprus. Cyprus is described as a place where there are laws and orders and it isn’t as chaotic. Othello is seen hitting a woman which is especially frowned upon in Cyprus. In today’s modern society, domestic abuse is also frowned upon. At a young age, people in today’s society are usually taught that they aren’t allowed to hit girls. This brings up the question of whether Othello realizes what he has done? And if he realizes the consequences to it? While most people believe that Othello is purely bad because of the actions he committed, as they were bad, some argue that Othello is purely good because Iago manipulated him into thinking that Desdemona was having an affair with him. In all fairness, this argument is merit because if Iago hasn’t manipulated Othello, then he wouldn’t have committed all of these actions. Othello was upset and he allowed his emotions to get the best of him. Even though, Iago manipulates Othello into thinking that Desdemona was having an affair with him. The actions he committed was his fault of his own as he allowed his emotions to get the best of him. And Othello should be responsible for what he did as he decided to kill Desdemona. Desdemona is already in bed and Othello soon enters, while entering he said “It is the cause. Yet I’ll not shed her blood, Nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow, And smooth as monumental alabaster. Yet she must die, else she’ll betray more men”.
Even though, Othello is furious with Desdemona he is still going forth with his plan to kill Desdemona. Othello has allowed his emotions to get the best of him. Although Iago manipulates Othello, Iago doesn’t have the power to change the way Othello think and act, it was ultimately his decision to execute and go forth with the plan. Therefore, Othello should be the one to blame for the death of Desdemona showing that Othello is purely bad because he murdered someone without justification. By the end of the book, Iago’s plan has been fully executed. Othello has fully fallen for his plan, which led to the death of Desdemona and Emila. Everyone was in disbelief, even Othello. Othello soon realizes that he’s been manipulated by Iago and goes out of his way to stab Iago and sent him to court. Othello filled with guilt and regret, he took his own life. Most people have experienced some kind of hatred and jealousy. Othello allowed his hatred and jealousy to ruin the lives of other people. Shakespeare clearly shows us the effects of jealousy and hatred long term as it can lead to the downfall of someone, in this case, Othello. In today’s modern society the phrase, “If someone tells you to do something dangerous, would you do it?” is fairly common as the decisions and hatred in someone else shouldn’t affect the way you think and treat others. This is what Iago succeeded in doing to Othello, which led to the downfall of him.
The Effects Of Jealousy In Othello By William Shakespeare
Let’s just say life is being revolved around rumours people had started to benefit their life. Without completely thinking, they seek revenge. William Shakespeare, Othello, goes in-depth of Iago’s jealousy, lying and manipulating others into believing the rumour he started about Othello’s wife Desdemona and Lieutenant Cassio. To begin with, the problem of the play started from a character being jealous of another. To add on, the jealousy of Iago causes him to portray negative behaviours affecting other characters. Last, the negative behaviour he portrays leads to an unfortunate event. Life of a human can be wrecked by one’s jealousy and deception which spreads to others convincing them a lie to obtain the truth. Being jealous of someone can sometimes be overwhelming and they need themselves superior to others. The causes arising in this play are primarily caused by the jealousy that is within Iago. In the beginning, The Moorish general, Othello announces a higher-ranking position to Cassio instead of Iago which endures the start of the problem.
Iago gets annoyed by Othello’s decision and states “One Michael Cassio, a Florentine (a fellow almost damned in a fair wife), That never set a squadron in the field, Nor the division of a battle known, More than a spinster; unless the bookish theory, Wherein the togged consuls can propose, As masterly as he. Mere prattle without practice”. Iago feels vulnerable and feels the need to take revenge on both Othello and Cassio because he could not live with this humiliation. He could not obtain Cassio’s position, so he begins talking trash to Rodrigo of how unworthy and useless Cassio is. Next, this was not the only problem Iago felt betrayed and jealous about, he had mixed emotions about his wife Emilia. There were rumours that Emilia had an affair with Othello. Iago’s anger towards Othello changes in many situations and the difficulty of trust throughout the play. Now Iago got two reasons to ruin Othello’s life as he proceeds to say, “I hate the Moor and it is thought abroad that‘twixt my sheets, was done my office. I know not if it be true; yet I, for mere suspicion in that kind. Will do as if for surety.” In these lines, Iago is explaining to the rumour that is going around with his wife’s name. To get back at Othello for his incorrect decision, he uses Othello to get revenge on Cassio. Which starts off the problem in this play. In conclusion, jealousy stays within every person and continues to spread throughout the other characters. Second, jealousy can threaten one’s ego, when rumours are created conflicts follows along. Lots of characters in this play retain a generous trust in Iago and think he remains as a loyal and honourable person. With those trust and belief, he utilizes it for his benefit and takes advantage and gets revenge.
One example is Rodrigo; he had trusted Iago and confessed his love for Desdemona. He speaks about his plot and vengeance. “The Moor is of a free and open nature, That thinks men honest that but seem to be so; and will as tenderly be led by the nose as asses are. I have not! It is engendered! Hell, and night. Must bring this monstrous birth to the world’s light.” Iago informs Rodrigo how Otello is a naïve man and will believe whatever someone says. At this moment Iago arranges something vile to get back and convinces him the rumours is true. With that benefit, he uses Othello’s love towards Desdemona. Suddenly, Desdemona lost her handkerchief that Othello had gifted to her. Emilia discovered it and approached it to Iago. “I will in Cassio’s lodging lose this napkin and let him find it. Trifles light as air, are to the jealous confirmations strong, as proofs of a holy writ. This may do something.” In this phrase, Iago is mentioning he will place Othello’s handkerchief in Cassio’s room. This is all a part of Iago’s plan; he has already told many lies about Desdemona’s affair with Cassio and now if he finds the handkerchief in Cassio’s room it will prove the rumour is correct. Therefore, believing in a person that started conflicts is typically from jealousy and negative behaviours. Lastly, every time a lie is being told the result comes out at very poor, in this case, the end solution was death. In Act 4 scene 2 Iago convinces Rodrigo to fight and kill Cassio. In the end, both Rodrigo and Cassio got killed. However, Iago’s ultimate betrayal caused him to kill his friend. “Like Rodrigo, He calls me to a restitution large, Of gold and jewels that I bobbed from him, As gifts to Desdemona. It must not be.” Not only is Iago betraying Cassio and Othello, but he also betrayed Rodrigo.
For example, Rodrigo confessed his love for Desdemona to Iago along with that he gave Iago jewelry to give to Desdemona. But Iago decided to keep it the whole time and did not execute it to her. Iago’s rumours were believable Othello believed it and went after Desdemona to kill her. Since Desdemona was his love, he demanded her to confess so he knew she was getting killed for the right reason and asked for her last words “Well, do it, and be brief; I will walk by. I would not kill thy unprepared spirit. No, heaven forfends! I would not kill thy soul”. This proves he worships her, but he believed in someone else rumours instead of believing his loyal wife. Overall, the result of one’s jealous behaviour and creating lies to benefit themselves, lead to the death of innocent people. To conclude, a person’s jealousy and dishonesty caused the result of a tragic event. It starts by jealousy developed in a character. Which then spread with rumours and created conflict between characters. Then which the result in this play ended up as the death of innocent people. There is constantly another perspective of one’s perceived thinking.
Jealousy As A Motive For Destruction In Shakespeare’s Othello
William Shakespeare is one of the most famous English poets, and playwrights that composes his writing into various themes relating to aspects of human nature such as: deceit, trickery, revenge and jealousy. In his famous tragedy Othello, critics have argued that the importance of his writing has significantly shaped readers like myself and our views to further understand what are the causes behind their immoral actions. Throughout the play, the characteristic traits of jealousy and envy play a prestigious part from beginning to end. Othello reveals that it is evident that jealousy is one of the biggest motivations of destruction within one’s self. This puts the urge on the victim leading to manipulation, revenge, betrayal and even death upon others.
The event leading up to the entire turning points of the play is the murder of Othello’s wife, Desdemona. Shakespeare was inspired to write Othello through an Italian love story by Giraldi Cinthio. The masterpiece was written in England during the tension period of racism. In this atmosphere, Shakespeare writes a drama about a black Arab military general from North Africa, Othello. Othello later falls in love and marries Desdemona, a white daughter of the senator. Every major character in this tragedy is susceptible to weakness, not only the main character himself. The moral lesson of this tragedy is a reminder that even one’s good nature can be taken advantage of for the worst of others benefits. Iago’s hatred for Othello is based on jealousy and assumptions of Othello sleeping with Emilia, Iago’s wife. Iago goes on saying, “But partly led to diet my revenge, for that I do suspect the lusty Moor”.
The drama expresses the lesson through different relationships and emotional attitude responses, a theme as to all humans are vulnerable to self-destruction even when they are in high positions of power and glory. Iago hates both Cassio and Othello so much that he shares, “I’ll have our Michael Cassio on the hip, Abuse him to the Moor in the rank garb”. Shakespeare shapes the characters in the play to demonstrate human vulnerability when personally interacting with one another. All relationships in this tragedy demonstrates insecurities in each person especially Othello himself. Although Othello is a tragic hero, Shakespeare reveals his flaws through showing more of his human side rather than heroic. Shakespeare’s play is also centered around the concept of trust and how pivotal it is to Othello’s flaws. Whether it’s over trusting or having lack of trust, the characters use this to their advantage in a matter of time. Iago, is seen as the villain who uses Othello’s blindness in faith for others to his own advantage. Throughout the play, Iago takes advantage of his reputation and uses the trust he wrongfully gains from everyone to seek revenge on the protagonist Othello and his loved one Desdemona. However, he does not pursue this task alone, he uses people to get exactly what he wants feeling no penitence for whom he hurts along the line. Othello was said to be a man with power in society, he went from having it all, to having nothing by the end of the play. This however would not be possible without the help of our main antagonist Iago, also known as Othello’s standard bearer. Iago is the husband of Emilia who was said to be having an affair with Desdemona because he wants to get even with Othello for possibly sleeping with his wife, “wife for wife”.
Othello is a noble man who possesses all qualities of a tragic hero and a military leader; however, he had allowed for jealousy to get the best of him. Jealousy is the ugliest trait; but Othello acted upon his jealousy and murdered his wife, Desdemona. Human nature is a term used to describe the characteristic of feelings and behavioral traits for humans. Humankind often express different kinds of emotions whether its joy, frustration, hopelessness, remorse and all other forms of emotions depending on the different situations they come into contact with. At the core of these features lies our vulnerabilities. Murdering Desdemona was a very irrational act where Othello lets himself be controlled by jealousy and Iago. Desdemona is the only pure and innocent figure in Othello and that corruption is symbolized in her handkerchief with the strawberries. Her death possibly symbolizes her loyalty to Othello until the end. Before being murdered Desdemona confesses, “I never did offend you in my life; never loved Cassio but with such general warranty of heaven as I might love: I never gave him token”. Othello refuses to believe his wife’s denial of the proof on the handkerchief, saying that Cassio has confessed before he was killed by Iago. Desdemona swears, “I give thee my warrant, assure thee, I do vow friendship to the last article my lord shall never rest; … I shall watch him tame and talk him out of patience”. Hearing of Cassio’s death, Desdemona begins to grieve his death driving Othello into a greater rage. Even on her deathbed, she had denied her husband for being the one that killed her. Emilia, Iago’s wife had asked who murdered her, she refuses to name Othello but responded, “Nobody. I myself.” This quote shows her naiveté and blind trust for Othello. It is Othello’s insecurity that makes him jealous of Cassio and allows for him to believe that Cassio had slept with his wife, Desdemona.
The story ultimately teaches readers that the main idea is featured around the feelings of jealousy and revenge. Already inflamed with the feelings of jealousy, Othello suffocates his wife as she lays in bed. This teaches us how powerful the feeling can be and that it is the dominant motive for action and therefore just as reflected in real life, we bear witness to jealousy influencing the characters of Iago, Brabantio, Roderigo, and Othello. As the play progresses on, we witness the character’s developing assumptions and motives. The change is noticeable mostly in our main protagonist Othello as he changes from being the proud misleading leader in Act 1 to this irrational jealous unstable tragic hero towards the end of the play. Iago shares to the audience his plot to take Othello down since Othello is so gullible, he’ll believe anything because Iago is known for being so “honest”. Iago shares, “Must bring this monstrous birth to the world’s light”. Iago plots to lead him “by the nose” making our tragic hero believe that his wife has been having an affair with Cassio, one of Othello’s inexperienced soldiers. He [Iago] plants the seeds of jealousy in our main protagonist making the audience realize his plan of evil as a “monstrous birth” and a plan that will bring Othello’s tragic flaw of jealousy to light. To ‘doubt’ means to suspect, and despite what he says, Othello already has strong suspicions, not from seeing anything, but just from listening to Iago. Still worse, Othello is prepared to hear and believe whatever Iago says next. Othello believes that he’s not the jealous type and he believes that Iago is his honest friend, so he believes that Iago couldn’t be lying and he believes that he himself can’t be mistaken. Iago however realizes that the proof of Desdemona supposedly committing infidelity is not needed when her suspicion would be enough potential evidence to drive Othello insane.
In wanting to please her husband, Emilia hands Iago the handkerchief Iago has been looking for in order to convince Othello that Desdemona has been cheating. Unfortunately, Emilia was so naive that she does not identify her husband as the killer to Desdemona’s death until it is too late: “You told a lie, an odious damned lie. Keep in mind that Desdemona had dropped her handkerchief on accident and Emilia her maid had picked it up to give it to her husband, plotting to drop it for Cassio to find. Iago as he plots his scheme says to himself, “As proofs of holy writ. This may do something. Once Othello sees it in Cassio’s possession, he’ll see it as the dominant proof of Desdemona’s fidelity. Iago ruins the lives of other characters in Othello, making people suffer being the brutal and insensitive person he is. This can be shown in the play through a scene that states, “Our bodies are gardens, to the which our wills are gardeners…”. Through this, I believe that it shows how much we should consider the importance of our lives are.
We only have one life, and our health and lives are very important to all of us, and we should take care of it to the best we can. Towards the end of the play, when Othello had seen his own sin for killing his faithful wife, he kills himself finally realizing that he had just lost the one thing in life that mattered the most to him. After his anger has died down, Othello was guilt stricken at the fact that he as a husband had been manipulated into having assumptions about his wife ever being unfaithful. Othello had let Iago prey on his tragic flaw/weaknesses resulting in the cause of him becoming a murderer. The play teaches us that the motive to jealousy is true and that it’s a very human thing, but how we react towards it is upon us, especially in this play that was written by William Shakespeare. In conclusion, I firmly believe it is the behavior of each of the characters that led up to such consequences.
How Jealousy Leads Towards The Tragedy In Othello
Throughout the Elizabethan Era, it was very common to have all white communities. Those of power were also usually white, and it was extremely frowned upon to have interracial relationships. Before the play begins, the audience are unaware of Othello’s ethnicity. The first time we get an insight of his appearance is through Iago and Roderigo talking derogatively about him in a rant given by Iago. Roderigo states ‘what a full fortune does the thick-lips owe’. Without any previous idea on what the main character looks like, we are immediately presented with an insult suggesting that Othello is negroid. This phrase comes a part of a rant given by Iago about him not receiving Lieutenant and what he is going to do about it. This is a crucial part of the play as it not only hints at the start of Iago’s jealousy feud, but also foreshadows how the rest of the play will unravel. Iago’s spite and deceitfulness is uncovered to the audience and shows the side of his character that no-one else will encounter apart from Roderigo. The strict Venetian society views exploited through Iago’s character significantly suggests how black people are seen. It is clear that the societies are, to an extent, accepting of black people as long as there is no interference with those individuals’ lives. If unaffected by with black people, venetians were often willing to accept them as part of society. Brabantio is an excellent example of this. Before he is informed about his daughter being married to the Moor, Brabantio showed interest in Othello’s life; “Her father loved me, oft invited me, still questioned me the story of my life from year to year, the battles, sieges, fortunes, that I have passed.” We can clearly see interest on Brabantio’s behalf was shown and that there was no known prejudices nor problem against Othello.
The specific beliefs of interracial marriage are portrayed through Iago in an attempt to exclude Othello from society and are further reinforced through Brabantio. This can evidentially be seen in “very now, an old black ram Is tupping your white ewe” stated by Iago. This not only hints the start of his plan to control Othello, but the jealousy slowly arising within him that, we can assume, is only going strengthen. The dehumanization created through the animal imagery, again, refers to Othello’s ethnicity by portraying him as “an old black ram” and creating the contrast to Desdemona who is definitively referenced as a ‘white ewe’. At this point, Brabantio’s opinion on Othello immediately changes. We can interpret this instantaneous switch in views as the reaction of a society when realising the interaction of a family member with an ‘outsider’. We could argue that these beliefs are preconceived and subconsciously what we automatically think and try to bury. Brabantio immediately accuses Othello of witchcraft after Iago proclaims Othello’s marriage to Desdemona. He expresses dehumanizing venetian beliefs that no one would voluntarily fall in love with a black person and it would only occur through witchcraft. This is evident in ‘The wealthy curlèd darlings of our nation, would ever have, t’ incur a general mock, Run from her guardage to the sooty bosom Of such a thing as thou — to fear, not to delight. Judge me the world if ’tis not gross in sense that thou hast practiced on her with foul charms, Abused her delicate youth with drugs or minerals that weakens motion”. Brabantio also proclaims that those of colour are to be feared and not loved again to exclude Othello from their society and also to portray an animalistic nature. This strengthens the beliefs of society and how it is unnatural for a white woman to be in a relationship with a black man regardless of his position and power. Throughout this whole scene, there is constant reminders of Othello’s blackness to the audience. It is unlikely that there is not a comment regarding Othello and his ethnicity.
Through these constant comments, as an audience we are led to create our own negative stereotypes of the animal Othello is made out to be, but are later proved wrong when we learn that Othello’s true nature completely defies the stereotypes/assumptions we are led to believe through Iago. We expect Othello to be malicious, snide and *** when in reality he is the complete opposite. We are shown a respectful, polite and hardworking character who respects and utilises his power for the greater benefit of himself and his peers. This could be a significant starting point of the “Green- eyed monster” coming to life in Iago. The animosity shown towards Othello may be due to the resentment of not getting Lieutenant or the envy that Othello is of a higher status. The Venetian views are clearly shown through the character of Iago in this situation because black people at that time were uninvolved in society and stuck to themselves, with white privilege being at a high. Iago, being a white male, is jealous that a black person has more power over a society he is believed not to belong to as an outsider. It was unnatural in that time period for an outsider to become a figure of authority. Within a monarchy, it is normal for the authoritive figure to be part of the new generations. This perspective potentially could’ve been adapted in Iago in relation to Othello having power over Iago. The disgust at the thought of his wife supposedly cheating on him with a black man also would be a huge drive in his jealousy. Again, we can interpret Iago depicting Othello as a negative character who stole Iago’s possession from him because he has the capability to do so. Throughout the play, Othello and Iago both partake in activities that are bad. The majority of the play is based on Iago being deceitful and planning immoral activities, yet the focus and accentuation is on Othello. In reality, Othello’s wrongdoings are most likely less substantial than Iago’s, yet Iago’s are still brushed off. What distinguishes the two characters apart is their ethnicities.
Religiously, light is good and dark is evil. This relates to Othello being black and therefore evil, whereas Iago being white is naturally good. Similar to the “old black ram” and “white ewe” imagery, the juxtaposition between white and black and good and evil highlights the blackness of Othello automatically being worse than the white individual despite the situation. These oppressed views exploited through Iago means that Othello is constantly surrounded and reminded of the outsider he supposedly is. It is at this point that we see a distinct theme of hegemony. Unfortunately, these perceptions eventually feed into Othello’s perception of himself and his capabilities. This is a significant point of Othello’s insecurity and weakness being displayed as this is the point in which Iago’s mission is nearly complete. He was able to work his way into Othello’s mind by feeding him the supposed social norms that not only results in Othello questioning his position, but also his marriage. Before this point, Othello was unaware of these prejudices and hatred towards him. When Iago claims Desdemona is being unfaithful to Othello because of his skin colour, he talks in disbelief; “nor from mine own weak merits will I draw/ The smallest fear or doubt of her revolt/For she had eyes, and chose me”. Yet then goes on to say “and yet how nature erring from itself’. This shows that subconsciously, Othello thinks it’s natural for Desdemona to favour men of her own race. Iago’s response of “Her will, recoiling to her better judgment/May fall to match you with her country forms/and happily repent”. This shows that Iago is suggesting Desdemona compares Othello to the white men in society and regrets being married to him. It is at this point that the hegemony caused by Iago leads to Othello believing that his wife is cheating on him.
Linguistically, the play uses iambic pentameter, enjambment and prose to show the difference in positions between Iago and Othello within their society. Othello, in his speeches, often uses both iambic pentameter and enjambment. Often in plays, those of a higher position speak in iambic pentameter. Many of Othello’s speeches are developed and explanatory which could be interpreted as him acknowledging being an outsider and feeling obliged to explain himself in every situation, as well as speaking respectfully to those around him. Iago on the other hand often uses speeches with a lot of caesura. This suggests that his conversations are usually blunt. Being a white man in a white society brings its privileges, one of those being already being accepted within the community and therefore not having to explain yourself or think carefully about what you will say. Shakespeare purposely chose to use a black man and remind us of this “to exhibit the racial inequalities of the time, as well as bringing to light the defamation of black people who overcame adversity and achieved success in Renaissance society” through Othello’s such struggles of and perspectives throughout the entirety of the play.
A Topic Of Pride In Othello By William Shakespeare And Oedipus By Sophocles
Pride, a feeling that has both a good connotation and a negative connotation, it is also a feeling that we can possibly have too much of, so when do we know we have had too much of it? Reading the plays Othello by William Shakespeare and Oedipus by Sophocles we are able to see how Othello and Oedipus are alike through pride. Both characters favor in being hubris, causing these characters to make life long decision that which causes their downfall in their plays.
In the play Othello written by William Shakespeare, Othello excessive pride is what causes his downfall. His pride prevents him from seeing the truth; he believes the closet people to him would never betray him and that is where everything goes downhill for Othello. At the beginning of the play, Othello is deeply in love with Desdemona the daughter of Venetian senator Brabanzio. Othello and she get secretly married regardless of her father’s disapproval. In the beginning, you can see that Othello and Desdemona have a strong relationship. Othello is accused of using magic to make Desdemona fall in love with him but through he goes on to explain how he wooed her. Othello says “…I did consent, And often did beguile her of her tears When I did speak of some distressful stroke That my youth suffered. My story being done, she gave me for my pains a world of sighs. She swore, in faith, ‘twas strange, ‘twas passing strange, ‘twas pitiful, ‘twas wondrous pitiful… This only witchcraft I have used. Here comes the lady. Let her witness it”. Othello continues to express how strong his love is with Desdemona when it comes to a celebration he says to Desdemona “Come, my dear love, the purchase made, the fruits are to ensue; that profit’s yet to come ‘tween me and you”. In this passage, Othello is showing he only wishes good for his marriage and that nothing bad will happen between them because of their love. Nonetheless, their strong love starts to subside due to Othello’s pride and him trusting Iago. Iago is the standard bearer and is upset that Othello gave the lieutenant position to Cassio who is inexperienced. To get revenge Iago first starts to put ideas in Othello’s head that Desdemona is cheating on him with Cassio. He sets in motion the handkerchief plan; where Emilia takes the handkerchief and Iago places it in the hands of Cassio. He also places the ideas that Cassio has been dreaming about Desdemona in Othello’s head. With Iago plan in play, this causes Othello to instantly believe Iago rather than his wife Desdemona. Othello does not bother finding out truth showing the bond between him and Desdemona is no longer there. After feeling so much heartbreak, Othello ends up killing his wife and towards the end of the play, he eventually kills himself. Through this play, Othello’s hubris causes his greatest downfall.
In the same fashion, the play Oedipus written by Sophocles also shows Oedipus being excessively prideful. Oedipus excessive pride causes him to elude the oracle prophecies but by doing so he ends up fulling the prophecy and making himself blind. The only difference between Oedipus and Othello is that Sophocles allows Oedipus to piece together the stories. At the beginning of the play, it starts off as Oedipus telling Creon that he will find justice for King Laius, that whoever killed him should be punished and killed. Little does he know he is foreshadowing that it may be someone close to him and is connecting himself to King Laius as he speaks about finding justice. Oedipus says, “If this filth warms himself at my fire and I welcome him, I call upon myself the curse I hurl upon his head” and “But I will fight to the death for him as if he were my flesh, he were my blood”. As we go through the play Oedipus tries to figure out who the killer of King Laius is, as he listens to the various stories he remembers a situation that happened between him and a couple of people when he was leaving Corith “I was walking where three roads meet I came across a man in a chariot and his servant… I killed him stone – I killed them all”. Although he remembers this memory, he chooses to not believe that he is the one who killed King Laius yet. As the play continues there are several times where it is hinted that his story is connected to the death of Laius. Oedipus is told it was him who killed Laius by Teiresias, the stranger confesses that Oedipus is adopted and lastly the shepherd tells Oedipus how his family in Corith is truly not related to him. After finding the truth out his past and him realizing that he fulfilled the prophecy. At the end of the play, because his pride made him try to avoid the prophecy, he ends up making the decision to make himself blind instead of killing himself.
For the most part, Oedipus and Othello both favor in being hubris which caused their downfall. Towards the end of each play, both Oedipus and Othello have recognition of their tragic flaw. Right before Othello dies he says “Of one that loved not wisely, but too well”. This pertains to Othello character, he is a man that makes absurd decisions and has a fear of making mistakes. Through this, we can see hubris because he makes the decision to believe Iago and his lies instead of finding out the truth. Oedipus has recognition when he pieces together the story from the stranger and the shepherd and realizes he unwillingly completed the prophecy, “All has now come out very clear. Light, I look on you for the last time. I am cursed to the backbone. I lay with a woman I should not – I struck down an old man I should not – all has come out clear”. Expressing his hubris of avoiding the prophecy led him to his becoming of being blind.
Given these points Othello and Oedipus tragic fates are determined through their hubris. Their excessive pride is recognized when they came to an understanding of their faults. Othello did with being too trusting of Iago and having no trust in his love Desdemona. Eventually realizing the truth it was too late to fix the inevitable. Oedipus did with trying to avoid a prophecy and not giving up on finding out the killer of Laius. By doing all this he did not think the effects it may cause trouble upon him and his family resulting in him to gouge out his eyes. Pride is a dangerous feeling that led to Othello’s and Oedipus downfall.
parents contributes in growth of every child
Introductory acts are normally a very crucial part of plays in drama. They serve as a foundation, introducing main characters and the plot, and they also capture the audience’s attention making them anticipate what is to come in later acts. An effective introduction is one that presents its main features, such as characters, plot and themes, in a compelling manner that impacts the audience. Although the plays Othello and Long Day’s Journey into Night have very different introductory acts, they are both still effective.
To begin with, the introductory act in Long Day’s Journey into Night serves as an effective basis for the play, enticingly introducing the main aspects. The four family members and main characters are presented to the audience, just as in Othello primary characters, as well as a few secondary characters, are revealed in the first act. In the beginning of A Long Day’s Journey into Night, it almost seems as though the play centers on a happy, normal family. It begins just after the family breakfast, which is a significant daily ritual when families come together to connect. However, as the first act progresses, the audience begins to realize that this is not so, especially after the major quarrel between James Tyrone and his son Jamie. This argument introduces one of the main themes in the play, and that is James Tyrone’s miserliness and the effects it has on his family. Jamie and his father have a very tense relationship and often gets into arguments, with Jamie blaming his father for most of the problems occurring in the family, such as Edmund’s illness, “It might never have happened if you’d sent him to a real doctor when he first got sick,” and the initiation of Mary’s morphine addiction “…he was another cheap quack like Hardy! You wouldn’t pay for a first-rate-”. The family seems to be on a downward spiral, and Mary, therefore, sinks back into her old ways, revealing another major theme, whereby the characters are stuck and do not want to move forward.
Much like Long Day’s Journey into Night, the first act in Othello effectively captures the audience’s attention with a compelling introduction. This play begins in the middle of a conversation between Iago and Rodrigo which quickly reveals the first plot of the play. We learn that Iago is the antagonist, willing to do anything to get revenge on Othello for choosing Cassio for a promotion instead of him, “I know my price, I am worth no worse a place”. Soon after, we are introduced to Barbantio, Desdemona’s father, who has just learned of his daughter’s elopement to Othello and is enraged. Although Othello is a respected man in Venice, the marriage is unacceptable because of his different racial background. This brings about the prevailing theme of racism in the play and betrayal in the play. Murray Carlin alleges, “Othello is about colour, and nothing but colour.” Although Othello, as the protagonist, is not introduced in this first act, his importance is made clear. The playwright of Othello introduces major characters and themes, as well as the plot in the introductory act, just as the playwright of Long Day’s Journey into Night does. It is done effectively, even though both playwrights have a different style of writing.
Furthermore, the introductory acts in both plays are proved to be effective because of the impact they have on audiences. Long Day’s Journey into Night is a modern play, thus is intended for a modern audience, while Othello is a classic play written in the Elizabethan era and was intended for an Elizabethan audience. Nonetheless, the first act of both plays impacted their audience. The conflict in Act 1 of Long Day’s Journey into Night between James Tyrone and Jamie excites the audience as they learn more information about the dysfunctional family members. They learn about Edmund’s illness as well as Mary’s addiction. The audience was also shocked when they found out about Mary’s use of morphine again at the end of the act, “Her long fingers, warped and knotted by rheumatism, drum on the arms of the chair, driven by an insistent life of their own, without her consent.” According to critic Lewis Gannett, “No play Eugene O’Neill ever wrote speaks more eloquently to the reader…” Moreover, in Othello, the protagonist who bears the same name as the play is notably absent in the first act. This actually impacts the audience as they are anticipating his reveal in the next act. They await the confrontation between him and Barbantio on his marriage, and they are also anticipating Iago’s plans for revenge and how it would be executed in later acts. Critic Edward Pechter said, “Othello has become the tragedy of choice for the present generation.”
Although both plays Othello and Long Day’s Journey into Night are different in many ways, the plays share a common aspect in a compelling introductory act. They both introduced main characters effectively and presented a few major themes and the plot. This, along with their style of writing, made audiences excited for more and left them in anticipation and suspense for what is to come.
Othello By William Shakespeare: The Aspects Of Leader-Member Exchange Theory And Political Framework
Shakespeare’s Othello provides insight into the potential negative aspects of the Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) Theory when the leader-follower relationship becomes an in-group or coalition of conflicting interests because of competing goals that can arise in a political framework. In Northouse’s Leadership Theory and Practice the Nahrang, Morgeson and Ilies 2009 LMX study “found that leaders look for followers who exhibit enthusiasm and participation” whereas “followers look for leaders who are trusting, cooperative and agreeable”. This relational dynamic can foster a high-quality relationship; however, if the in-group exists within a political frame the differing agendas as seen between the characters of Othello, the Venetian army general and his ensign, Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello can increase “political activity” that according to Bolman and Deal would “erode” organizational “credibility”. The overarching goal in a political frame is to ensure participation and collaboration; which allows for alliances of varying power to form coalitions, however, “power can also be volatile, rising and falling with changes in circumstances” as seen in the competing actions of Othello and Iago.
Bolman & Deal
Bolman and Deal’s political frame is a system of “interdependence, divergent interests and power relations that inevitably spawn political activity” and “goals and decisions emerge from bargaining, negotiation, and jockeying for position among competing stakeholders”. Furthermore, in Reframing Organizations authors Bolman and Deal suggest that in this framework members form groups called coalitions out of necessity rather than because of common interests and it is the nature of differing agendas and competing interests that “implies political activity”. This relationship of necessity is illustrated in Shakespeare’s Othello through Othello and Iago’s connection as they both serve in the Venetian army and are both considered outsiders within the societal hierarchy of Venice. Othello is a Moor, and Iago has a Spanish name which “also makes them to be strangers and outsiders” in Venetian society. It is these commonalities that potentially bond Othello and Iago together forming a leader-follower in-group relationship with Othello as leader and Iago as his follower; however, political transgressions on behalf of both create political conflict within their coalition. As a Moor, Othello disregards “implicit color lines” by marrying Desdemona a “white Venetian daughter of an aristocrat”; while Iago’s act of vengeance by manipulation convincing Othello to murder his own wife because he believes she may be adulterous “breeds discontent within the army and causes the death of innocent citizens”.
Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) Theory focuses on the connections that occur between leaders and their followers through their relationship and more specifically identifies that these roles are interconnected through either in-groups or out-groups. Graen, pointed out that the “membership in one group or the other is based on how followers involve themselves in expanding their role responsibilities with the leader”. Participation in the in-group by both the follower and the leader creates an enhanced experience for both as this “high-quality relationship” has the potential “to engage more discretionary (positive “payback”) behaviors”. In Shakespeare’s Othello the characters Othello and Iago illustrate a negative LMX in-group between each other; through the appearance of trust and respect at the surface as seen throughout the play; for example when Othello references Iago’s character “Iago is most honest” as well as when Iago says “my lord, you know I love you”. Despite their bond or “coalition” as described in Bolman and Deal’s political frame, which they built through shared differences within Venetian society, Othello chooses another soldier, Cassio over Iago for a promotion and while in the in-group, Iago harbors resentment towards Othello. Iago confesses “though I do hate him as I do hell pains, yet for necessity of present life I must show out a flag and sign of love”. Some criticisms of LMX Theory as addressed in Northouse include; the “development of privileged groups in the workplace” which may be perceived as “unfair and discriminatory” and “perceptions of fairness of promotion opportunities”. Having been overlooked for advancement fosters feelings of jealousy within Iago against Cassio in addition to a desire to retaliate against Othello. Similarly, Othello desired to show integrity protecting Venetian society in his military leadership role and yet his “marriage to Desdemona” countered that creating doubt for him which may have been caused by the fear of racial miscegenation widely spread in the Venetian society at that time”.
In its successful form, LMX theory describes leaders and followers that share reciprocity of respect and trust within an in-group dynamic that ensures high-quality relationships. However, the conflicting personal political interests of the in-group or coalition members, Othello and Iago, as illustrated in Shakespeare’s Othello, negatively affect their leader-member exchange driving them to harm not only their relationship but the organization (Venetian society) overall due to competition within the political framework.