A Crucial Power of Jealousy in Othello
Jealousy, without a doubt, is the most powerful human emotion. Looking at the world in its entirety, it is easy to observe that people are destroyed because of what they think they know as much as the truth behind certain actions. In Othello, a play by William Shakespeare, the envious ambiance runs rampant. The proclaimed “Green-Eyed Monster” tightens his grips around the minor and major characters alike. Roderigo, Iago, and, most of all, Othello, all suffer from the plague of jealousy.
Othello begins with Roderigo and Iago confronting Desdemona’s father in the middle of the night. Barbantio is a prominent white male in the play and is extremely distraught that his daughter would marry a sloppy black general. Once Desdemona convinces her father her love for her new husband is true, Barbantio foreshadows the unfaithfulness that will appear later in the play: “Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see. She has deceived her father, and may thee” (Shakespeare 1.3.292). As Jennifer Putnam says in her essay “Jealousy in Othello,” Iago is a professional at telling people what they want to hear to have them react the way he wants them to (Putnam 1). He knows how to avoid direct confrontations with others and carefully maneuver his way out of slimy situations with words. Desdemona’s marriage to the undesirable Othello triggers Barbantio’s jealousy; however, Iago’s manipulation of words add fuel to the fire. In truth, there was no real reason for Barbantio to be jealous or angry of his daughter’s marriage, but Iago pointed out why he should be. The irony in this plot development is the jealousy Iago transfers to Barbantio and Roderigo comes back to hurt him later in the story.
Iago, Roderigo, and Othello are all characters with different personalities and approaches to problems. One thing they all share in common, however, is the jealousy that all three develop during the course of the play. This development in character is what leads to the path each individual goes down. Iago is the first character to truly express his jealousy. He complains to Roderigo about not receiving his desired promotion to lieutenant. Roderigo sympathizes with Iago since he feels his own pains of jealousy from Othello stealing the girl of his dreams. This combination of hatred and jealousy toward Othello, clearly the source of all the pain, leads Roderigo to team up with Iago in order to sabotage Othello.
The first scene of the play does not end with the development of Barbantio’s anger. That same night, for the same reason, Roderigo begins to present his jealousy. Roderigo once asked for Desdemona’s hand in marriage only to be turned down. Roderigo is devastated. Roderigo feels cheated when he finds out that Othello will be Desdemona’s husband instead of him. His jealousy is aggravated when Iago attempts to explain that Desdemona’s and Othello’s love for each other is not real: “. “Mark me with what violence she first loved the Moor but for bragging and telling her fantastical lies. To love him still for prating? Let not thy discreet heart think it. Her eye must be fed” (Shakespeare 2.1.230). “When Chaos Is Come Again” by Marcia Macaulay may explain the way Iago manipulates characters feelings the best. The article describes, “[Iago] commences with an imperative, follows with a question in which he answers himself, and ends with a bold assertion” (Macaulay 3). Roderigo leaves his life behind. The power of jealousy clouds his mind; he is willing to do whatever it takes to get the girl he believes he deserves. Roderigo will sell everything he has in Italy and give up his life for the futile pursuit of Desdemona.
The plans Iago has to ruin the Moor and Cassio are clearly triggered by his spite of not receiving the promotion he desired combined with the thought the general has slept with his wife. After Iago finds another individual with the same burning passion to get back at Othello, he immediately starts to establish a dangerous plan to ruin the people who have bestowed this jealousy upon him – Othello and Cassio. The lack of a promotion was the first cause of Iago’s jealousy. The fact an inexperienced general got the position instead of him drug Cassio into harms way. Iago complains, “And what was he? Forsooth, a great arithmetician, One Michael Cassio, a Florentine, A fellow almost damn’s in a fair wife; That never set a squadron in the field…And I – God bless the mark! – his Moorship’s ancient” (Shakespeare 1.1.20). It is clear Iago is clearly jealous of the promotion of Cassio and the fact he himself remains a simple worker for the Moor. Iago complains to Roderigo to further ignite the jealousy in him. Iago’s evil plans and deceitful nature begins to take form in the early stages of the play, and it will continue in the scenes to come.
Iago reveals the second part of his jealousy in act two – this time toward Othello. Iago suspects that his wife and the Moor have slept together, and the only way to get back at Othello is to sabotage Othello’s marriage: “For I do suspect the lust Moor hath leap’d into my seat; the thought whereof doth, like a poisonous mineral, gnaw my inwards; and nothing can or shall content my soul till I am even’d with him, wife for wife” (Shakespeare 2.1.55). All of this hatred and envy is based on what Iago thinks he knows; however, there isn’t enough evidence to prove him correct. This makes his Iago’s motives are clearly spawned by his jealousy of Othello, and Shakespeare makes it apparent Iago’s jealousy guides his thinking and actions through the remainder of the play.
Hiding her envious thoughts a little better than any of the other characters of the story, Bianca, a prostitute, finally explodes at the thought of her love, Cassio, seeing somebody else. Bianca finally confronts Cassio about the handkerchief that he asked her to copy. She “knows” that the handkerchief is from another woman and refuses to copy the pattern. The plague of jealousy seems to reach every character in the play. The story itself is based on jealousy, and it is that fatal emotion that brings down Othello himself.
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of Iago’s plan to ruin Othello is warning him of the state of mind that would later destroy him: “O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on; that cuckold lives in bliss, who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger” (Shakespeare 3.3.165). Iago hopes that Othello may deny any envious feelings in the future. This is when Iago will begin to plant the seeds of doubt into the mind of Othello. He begs Othello not think about his wife sleeping with Cassio, which of course, as Karl Zender concludes, only causes Othello to think of it more constantly (Putnam 45). Easily persuaded by Iago, since he seems to be the only one that actually cares, Othello will re-think everything his new wife does. Every little thing that she says will sound like proof that she is being unfaithful. As Putnam points out, Othello never actually goes and asks his wife and/or Cassio of their affair. He only listens to what Iago says and the premeditated evidence that is presented to him, such as Desdemona’s handkerchief found in Cassio’s bed chamber (46). Othello is obsessed with jealousy and now will only trust Iago since he is the one “helping him.”
Othello is completely overwhelmed with jealousy that he believes the only other way to rid the world and himself of the injustice is to kill Desdemona himself. He is tricked into believing that Desdemona has been unfaithful, and like the characters before him, he acts on what he “knows.” He is certain she has been sleeping with Cassio and takes his anger out on her. Ironically, Othello mentions that he is not a jealous person. In reality, he is the ultimate reason for Desdemona’s death and his own – he could not see past the deceptions Iago sent his way. He announces to the world, “Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate, Nor set down aught in malice: then must you speak of the one that loved not wisely but too well; of one not easily jealous, but being wrought perplex’d in the extreme” (Shakespeare 5.2.345). The tragedy at the end of the play was based on what Othello thought he knew.
The play itself revolved around the theme of jealousy. Each character’s problems toward each other lead them down there separate roads in order to get even with the opponent. Roderigo wants to get back at Cassio and Desdemona, Roderigo at Othello, and Iago at Othello and Cassio. In each case, the jealousy that triggers this reaction is not entirely based on fact. They all assume they know best, and take their actions based on this assumption. The tragedy speaks the warning, “beware of jealousy.” The play ends when the truth comes out and the mess cannot be undone.
An Analysis of Iago’s Manipulation of Virtues
Question: With reference to Acts 1 to 3, how far do you agree that Iago’s main technique is to use people’s virtues against them?
I largely agree that Iago’s main technique is to use people’s virtues against them, as examples of him employing this technique is evident in Acts 1 to 3 through the ways in which he manipulates Cassio, Othello and Desdemona. However, he also makes use of the weaknesses of certain characters as well, such as Roderigo, Cassio and Othello.
Firstly, Iago takes advantage of Cassio’s virtues of courtesy and integrity. In Act 1, Iago states that Cassio “hath a person and a smooth dispose / To be suspected, framed to make women false”, which is what spurs him to “gyve” the latter “in [his] own courtship” in Act 2. Through exaggerating and creating false reports of Cassio’s displays of courtesy towards Desdemona to Roderigo and Othello, Iago begins his attempts to prove Cassio to be a flirtatious man engaged in an adulterous relationship with Desdemona, therefore paving the way for Cassio’s demotion.
Also, Iago poses as sincere, trustworthy companion to Cassio by advising him to “Confess [himself] freely to [Desdemona]” and “importune her help to put [him] in [his] place again” after the drunken brawl which resulted in him being stripped of his rank. By mourning for his loss of reputation and displaying his feelings of self-contempt, Cassio shows high regard for his integrity, thus giving Iago another opportunity to further his plans and tie Cassio’s downfall in with Desdemona’s.
Similarly, Iago makes use of Othello’s love towards Desdemona and trust in Iago to provoke feelings of suspicion and doubt. As “the Moor is of a free and open nature, / That thinks men honest that but seem to be so,” based on Iago’s own observations, Othello’s trusting nature makes him susceptible to being “led by th’nose / As asses are.” As a result, Othello’s virtues are exploited, and he then falls prey to Iago’s insinuations.
This is particularly evident in Act 3 when Iago warns Othello to “Look to [his] wife; observe her well with Cassio;” and “Wear [his] eye thus, not jealous nor secure.” While Othello’s trust in Desdemona is shaken due to the suggestion of her unfaithfulness, his trust in Iago is reinforced in turn, as Iago presents himself as a friend who “would not have [Othello’s] free and noble nature, / Out of self-bounty, be abused.” This also allows Iago to continue twisting Othello’s views of Desdemona, as the Moor’s almost gullible state makes room for plenty of misconceptions and dubiousness.
Furthermore, Desdemona’s kindness and loyalty to her friends play huge roles in Iago’s scheme. Whilst consoling Cassio, Iago mentions that Desdemona “is of so free, so kind, so apt, so blessed a disposition, she holds it a vice in her goodness not to do more than she is requested.” As Desdemona possesses a generous spirit, not only will she agree to appeal to Othello about Cassio’s situation, but would also be unsuspecting to Iago’s machinations, as her good nature drives her to help Cassio without asking for anything in return or considering whether there are ulterior motives involved.
Finally, as Iago is aware that “[Desdemona]’s framed as fruitful as the free elements, and knows she would do all that she can to push for Cassio’s reinstatement, he uses Desdemona’s compassionate and loyal qualities to his advantage. Despite this, because Iago had planted ideas of adultery in Othello’s head, Desdemona’s requests that Othello make peace with Cassio would then only fuel Othello’s suspicions and convince him even further of her infidelity.
While the ideas above show how Iago mainly uses people’s virtues against them in order to exact his revenge against Othello, another technique he utilizes is making use of a few characters’ weaknesses, namely, Roderigo’s, Cassio’s and Othello’s.
In Act 1, Roderigo presents Iago with his dilemma of being in love with Desdemona by proclaiming that “It is silliness to live, when to live is torment”. Despite the fact that Desdemona had already married Othello, Roderigo’s passions blind his sense of reason, and leave him defenseless against manipulation. Consequently, Iago urges him to “put money in [his] purse” and takes advantage of Roderigo’s foolish naivety, filling him with hope by reassuring him that Desdemona would soon tire of the Moor and yearn for a younger man to satisfy her needs. By doing so, Iago manages to secure himself a pawn who would willing aid him in his plan, which he points out by saying “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.”
Likewise, Iago’s success in using Cassio’s virtues against him in Act 2 is by firstly taking advantage of Cassio’s lack of self-control. As Iago reveals in his soliloquy, “If [he] can fasten but one cup upon [Cassio], / With that which he hath drunk tonight already, / He’ll be as full of quarrel and offence / As [his] young mistress’ dog.” Through drinking, partaking in a brawl (which had also been set up by Iago) and subsequently getting demoted, the high value at which Cassio holds his reputation and integrity is revealed, thus giving Iago the perfect chance to continue orchestrating his plan by advising Cassio to seek Desdemona’s help, all the while maintaining the facade of an honest, trustworthy man. By exploiting Cassio’s weakness, his virtues become open for manipulation.
Lastly, both Roderigo and Cassio’s weaknesses contribute to Othello’s ultimate weakness: irrationality, which led to the tragic collapse of his relationship with Desdemona. Another of Iago’s soliloquies in Act 2 unveils his plan to “put the Moor / At least into a jealousy so strong / That judgment cannot cure”, and Othello clearly displays jealous rage in Act 3 when Iago’s words finally convince him of Desdemona’s promiscuity, as he says that “Her name that was as fresh / As Dian’s visage, is now begrimed and black / As mine own face.” He also makes the decision to “withdraw to furnish [himself] with some swift means of death / For the fair devil”, hereby showing how Iago’s words have successfully induced a feeling of anger so strong that he resolves to kill Desdemona himself, regardless of how the only proof he’s been given are Iago’s words alone. Hence, we are presented with how Iago provokes Othello’s irrationality through lies and deception, and uses this moment of weakness to his advantage.
To conclude, Iago’s main technique is indeed to use people’s virtues against them, as can be seen by how he manipulated Cassio, Othello and Desdemona, but he also took a step in advance by exploiting some characters’ weaknesses as well, such as Roderigo’s, Cassio’s and Othello’s.
Damned Character of Iago in William Shakespeare’s Othello
Shakespeare, one of the most beloved authors in history, chose his words very carefully. It is no accident that the word “damn” is used by the characters in Othello frequently and always with the same connotation. “Damn” is used to reference hurting or killing someone, specifically by Iago and then Othello, the two evil characters in the play. “Damn” is Shakespeare’s word of choice to characterize people as evil. This word sticks out in intensity and profanity among the emotional, evil conversations and asides that the characters have as they “damn” each other throughout the play. Shakespeare even has a clever plot twist using this word as the play comes to an end where it almost resembles the Pandora’s Box story. Pandora’s Box is a story where all of the evils of the world are contained in one box or jar, and in the story are released, never to go back in, when the box is open. The world becomes polluted with this evil. The story of Pandora’s Box is comparable to Othello because the play ends with the word “damn” being used by multiple, random characters, no longer with the same significance!
The word “damn” is used by Iago repetitively in the first acts, when he is plotting against Othello and Cassio. Iago introduces Cassio in the opening scene of the play as “Michael Cassio, a Florentine, A fellow almost damned” (1.1.21). “Damn” in this context is to hurt, die, etc. The beginning storyline of Iago hunting Cassio is introduced early and uses “damn” to characterize Iago as the villain and this is the first time we see the connection between this word and evil characters’ actions. The use of “damn” immediately demonstrates how intentionally Shakespeare uses this word and how he wants to convey to the audience how Iago is the villain, even before the audience knows anything else about him or the story. Because the rest of the book challenges the original established characterization of villian and hero, this word becomes key to understanding the dynamic that Iago and Othello have; foil then mirroring. Of all the words that Shakespeare uses, this one is immediately present. This tell the audience that the choice was no coincidence and is a symbol of its own. This line is here to establish the connection between “damn” and evil characters that later continues. The word “damn”, as a tool to demonstrate evilness in characters, is repetitively used by Shakespeare.
Iago starts off as the main evil character and the evilness of the book is concentrated in him. He contrasts the prideful, good Othello in the beginning, as we see Iago’s evil side immediately. However, as the play goes on, Iago is not the only one with evil intentions, or intentions to “damn” someone. Othello goes through a transformation in the later acts of the book, when he thinks Desdemona is cuckolding him. Othello goes from being a positive leader in the community, as the leader of the military at Cyprus, to displaying just as much evilness as Iago after this transformation. Shakespeare uses the word “damn” to demonstrate this and characterize Othello this way. Since there is already have an established connection between a character being targeted and the word “evil”, it stands out. To make it stand out more, Shakespeare has Othello use the word three times to reference Desdemona, “Damn her, lewd minx! O, damn her, damn her!” (3.3.541). By repeating the word, Shakespeare emphasizes this new characterization. This line is much later in the play than Iago originally uses it, at a different part of his plan to hurt Othello. We see Iago’s progress at his plan by this new Othello, who has adopted evilness and “damn”. Othello even admits that he has changed emotionally, no longer the loving husband to Desdemona when he says, “Ay, let her rot and perish and be damned tonight, for she shall not live. No, my heart is turned to stone.” (4.1.202). This quote clearly shows how Othello has now been changed. Shakespeare makes this profession of transformation using “damn” to connect these characters and show how Iago as a constant evil character now mirrors, instead of foils, Othello. He makes it clear that he wants to “damn” her, in the same way Iago said of he and Cassio in the the beginning. It is also worth noting that after Othello starts using this word, Iago stops. This shows how the evil of the play is first within Iago, and then is opened up like Pandora’s Box.
“Damn” is one of the most obvious ways Shakespeare choses to characterize and demonstrate change in his characters lines. There are other negative words that may demonstrate similar plot trends, like “kill”, “evil”, “hate” or even “moor”. However, it seems that there was a purposeful use of the word “damn” in Othello. It even seems to tell a similar story to Pandora’s box. Instead of being used in a very specific way by a few characters, Shakespeare ditches, or kills, this whole literary device. This mirrors the way the plot is changed when Othello, Emilia, Roderigo, and Desdemona are all dead in the end. Othello is not only a central character who goes through a transformation, but a play about evil and damnation.
Analysis of the Play Othello: Destructive Behaviour of the Main Character and Aesthetic Choices in William Shakespeare
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls welcome to yet another instalment of the amazing project we have undertaken here called Shakespeare in the Classroom. My name is Nihal Bains and today we will delve into the dramatized tragedy that is, Othello, an unadulterated Shakespearian classic. Our scope will be focussed upon the play’s protagonist, Othello, and how Shakespeare’s aesthetic choices are communicated through to us, the audience. We will also be analysing a soliloquy spoken by Othello of considerable significance that will help us understand his representation at such a point during the work. Othello himself is a man of great importance, a Christian moor of African descent, he upholds the honour of the Venetian army and is well-respected for his elevated status. As you would be aware, Othello’s demise comes when he falls victim to his own insecurities, which his supposedly ‘trustworthy’ ensign Iago uses to dismantle the powerful bond he has with his wife, Desdemona.
This leads him into a downward spiral of destructive jealousy, the tragedy of the play. The soliloquy we are going to focus on is from Act III, Scene 3, lines 262-281. Taking place at Othello’s castle in Cyprus whilst him and Iago are in conversation, this speech represents the dramatically psychological tipping point of the play. Up until now, Shakespeare’s characterisation of Othello has been honourable. A well-spoken individual who is a respected general on the battlefield, and a devoted husband. But from here onwards we witness a disintegration of this characterisation as Othello’s murderous intent develops with each passing word of Iago. We are given explicit insight into his vanities both as a reticent man and public figure. All of these synthesize to build the foundations by which Othello is induced to suspect Desdemona’s infidelity. What I would like you to recognise here is that all of the ideas, attitudes and values communicated through this speech open the way for the play’s progression. The speech begins with a truly ironic assertion in which Shakespeare represents Othello as naïve, someone who is easily deceived and unwittingly assuming of others qualities. “This fellow’s of exceeding honesty and knows all quantities, with a learned spirit, of human dealings.” Shakespeare clearly presents this as a proclamation, and so it should be enacted in a confident manner like so. The effect of this is that Othello’s representation as naïve is amplified to the audience because there is no sense of doubt in his statement.
The central irony here is the use of honesty and Othello’s belief that Iago is honest, because as we know, Iago, is really quite the opposite. Interestingly, this motif also intertwines with Othello’s false perception of Desdemona as being dishonest, which as we’ve discovered is first introduced in this soliloquy. Although some truth is spoken as Iago indeed knows all qualities of human dealings, it’s his utilisation of this knowledge which Othello fails to correctly acknowledge. So already after the first sentence we are provoked to believe that Othello is a naïve individual. Shakespeare carries this perception of Othello in the audience’s mind through the play’s entirety. Quickly following Othello’s false assertions is a sequence of suppositions which represent him as being characterized by self-pity. Here he looks for reasons as to why Desdemona may betray him. “Haply, for I am black and have not those soft parts of conversation that chamberers have”. The intended despondency of Othello’s manner here is obvious. Thus I’ve taken a slower, more emotionally intensified approach to this line, which in turn reinforces the representation of self-pity attached to Othello.
When doing so, the audience truly believes that Othello curses his racial trait, encapsulating his uneasiness with being a coloured man in a white man’s world. Othello also mentions that he has “declined into the vale of years”, furthering his representation of self-pity as he blames age as a cause of his wife’s alleged infidelity. You should also recognise that this shortened line confirms Othello’s anxiety with the audience. Shakespeare here alludes to the concepts provided in Christian Europe during the Elizabethan era, the time of his writing. His primary focus is on the Elizabethan value that suggests fair, pure and courtly people are the idealisms of nature. Being coloured, aging and married to Desdemona, a young and fair woman, Othello himself is a contradiction to these societal values. Now as the audience, we are aware that Othello’s mind is torn with suggestions of his own unworthiness, ideas that he fears could turn a woman from her husband’s bed. As we approach the climax of Othello’s mental agony, jealousy is soon at the forefront of his characterisation, abruptly taking over his representation of self-pity. It is this same jealousy introduced to us now that oversees the calamity of the play. “She’s gone, I am abused, and my relief must be to loathe her”. I enact this line in a more serious tone as Shakespeare’s intention is to indicate the peevishness of the legitimacy of Othello’s jealousy.
As the audience, we see this as a transfiguration of Othello, once devoting all his love to Desdemona, now foolishly ravaged by loathing for a crime she never committed. The further we develop into the speech the more increasingly urgent Othello becomes as evident in the next line. “Oh, curse of marriage! That we can call these delicate creatures ours and not their appetites!” As indicated by Shakespeare’s use of more vehement language such as curse, this line should be spoken in an elevated and irate tone. Here it’s important to notice the contrast between.
Welcome my Lord Duke of Venice, Senators and loyal citizens of Venice. We gather here today to mark the passing of out valiant Othello. A noble leader, gallant warrior, devoted husband and loyal friend. His leadership unlike no other, his military prowess he used to lead his soldiers will for ever be high in the esteem of the Venetian State. This man woefully fell victim to his own fatal flaws as he was exposed to the trap of the “green eyed monster “. A tragic loss of a man founded by strength but plagued only by one weakness.
It prides me, Michael Cassio, former lieutenant of Othello to be able to stand before you, to express my gratitude and passion for our general. He was not only my officer, but a mentor and a friend. His death now casts a shadow on Venice and Cyprus, his light that shined as bright as a lighthouse, has smouldered into ash.
Othello and I met on the rough seas of battle, he was the leading general of our fleet. At the time I was a soldier, scrawny and doubtful. My persistence to one day stand before my proud general would be a day of great pride, but I was only another number. But if it weren’t for the stars alignment one day, when Othello saw something that not even I could see. He taught me not to accept defeat, but to get back up after I fell. There are no words for how thankful I am for his elite leadership, a man’s leadership build on pure trust, honour and faith. His trust in me helped me engrave my name as a soldier, a soldier that fought proudly beside Othello. If it weren’t for Othello, I wouldn’t be standing here, as the man I am today.
He was a man of strength, many who knew him gravitated toward such a warrior. He was a leader to many who fought beside him. He was a man poise; thus he didn’t ever use his authority to humiliate or degrade his fellow men. His exotic background brought our cultures and beliefs into a brotherhood. Our brotherhood did not have ranks or status, together we fought as a team, as a family. Othello, leading us every inch of the way , he knew royalty, and he knew the burden of the slave, both fostered in his compassion and understanding of a soldier.
But we all saw the change in his eyes when he first met Desdemona, She challenged his strength and was his true love, and only weakness . Desdemona gave him the comfort that was very foreign to him. Someone that loved him beyond his stories and stature, she cared for his misfortunes and shame. She became a part of him, an extra hand, a shield from his reality .
Othello’s strength proved to be one of his biggest weaknesses, he succumbed to the pressure of jealously. His strength tormented, rotted by dis-honest Iago . His lion heart squeezed dry by corrupt time. Not even a warrior could stand the pain of drowning in his own jealously and guilt. His promises fell through his fingers like sand, his words –
“I’ll see before I doubt; when I doubt, prove;
And on the proof, there is no more but this:
Away at once with love or jealousy .”
His demise was beyond repair, murdered by twisted words.
Let us learn from this man. His message needs to resonate between each city. Do not let us become misguided and swayed by those who present us with out own personal issues. Let us not become overcome by our own imagination that we cannot trust those who are devoted to. In his own words, “The robbed that smiles steals something from the thief, He robs himself that spends a bootless grief.” As we celebrate his passing, lets not weep to the fact he is gone, than it us who loses. Celebrate his passing so his rein lives on, his spirit will guide us into battle, lead us to the light and not be misguided.
Farewell Othello; noble leader, gallant warrior, devoted husband and loyal friend. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. We will remember him.
The Concept Of Human Nature in “The Crucible” By Arthur Miller And “Othello” By William Shakespeare
In nature, are humans good or bad? This is the question that philosophers have debated for decades that whether we are good and virtue in nature but is corrupted by the pressure from society or are we basically bad in nature. The concept of human nature can be seen through “The Crucible” written by Arthur Millar and “Othello” written by Williams Shakespeare. Each character from these texts represented some resemblances; having a strong desire to escape from the society and protect their freedom.
The Crucible is a 1953 play written by Arthur Miller which tells a story of the Salem witch trials that took place in Massachusetts Bay Colony during 1692. The play began when Parris discovered his niece and daughter and other girls dancing naked in the woods. Abigail is the vehicle that drives the play, she was responsible for the girls meeting in the woods and once the truth started to unravel, Abigail blamed on Tituba and others to conceal her behavior, “She sends her spirit on me in church; she makes me laugh at prayer!” Salem was populated by the Puritans who advocated strict religious discipline. The society was a theocracy which suggested that God is the leader of the society and he expressed his true will through his people, men and women. In the Old Testament, God guided his people through Moses; similarly, Salem, was led by a man who was directly connected to God. In Salem society; the leaders lusted after power; and they were the person who made rules. Among those rules, freedom of speech and movement were limited, corrupting basic human nature of the people in Salem and their freedom. The setting of Salem contributed to every action that has occurred. Abigail accused others of witchcraft to protect herself and her freedom from serve punishments of witchcraft and adultery with Proctor. Human’s readiness to defend their freedom is a part of human nature as showed by the character of Abigail, “Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word about the other things, and I will come to in the black of some terrible night”. The quote suggested that Abigail is a rebellious teenager who when caught in this circumstances which stifle her freedom, will fight them and thus break the rules. Abigail’s survival and freedom are at risk and it is said that survival mode is triggered. Survival mode, human will behave in a manner eliminating morality and ethic, Abigail likewise. Abigail sacrificed everything even knowing what is right and what is wrong. However this does not make her a bad person, it is evident from the setting of the play that her virtue is corrupted by the pressure from the society. Her freedom of speech and movement were limited since the first day she was born, the society locked away her freedom. Therefore the society is the rooted caused of this tragedy.
Othello is a tragedy written by Williams Shakespeare in 1603. The tragedy tells a story of a general called Othello who was manipulated by his lieutenant named Lago. As a result of Lago’s manipulation, Othello strangled his own wife to death. The play took place in Venice, a predominantly white society. Through Venetians’ eyes, Othello is a Moor, and every action of his is judged much more intensely than white man’s actions would be. Venetians respect Othello and his military reputation, he earned his position as a general because of his heroism at war and the Venetians needed someone to protect them, however when he married Desdemona, a white Venetian woman, he broke the protocol. Another aspect of the setting, Venice is known for its many prostitutes. While Venetians did not consider Desdemona as a prostitute however for Othello to believe that his wife committed adultery is easier for him as he knows that prostitution is a rampant in Venice and a part of culture she grew up with. The setting contributes to the Lago is undoubtedly the person who drives the play. He manipulated and elaborated lies in order to achieve his goals.
He devoted his whole life to take a revenge on Othello knowing that it was wrong. Lago never express his motive unlike Abigail who did such things for survival. It seemed as if Lago did it for his satisfaction. In Act1 scene 1, he expressed his anger for Othello was passing him over for a promotion, “In personal suit to make me his lieutenant”. He felt as if he deserved the promotion and he also earned it. In some aspects, it seemed as if it was Lago’s thirst for power that drove him to do such things however later on, he suggested that Othello had an infidelity with his wife, Emilia, “I hate the Moor. And it is thought abroad that twixt my sheets as done my office”. This suggested that Othello had done Lago’s job as a husband on his sheets which further suggested that it may be jealousy that drove him however in some aspects, it seemed as if he was plain evil like Samuel Coleridge suggested that his behavior was a “motiveless malignity” which described his sense of resentment and bitterness at being forgotten by his wife or being denied in power and his rightful sense of happiness. Lago is the opposite to Abigail, it seemed as if Lago was basically born to be bad. Throughout the whole play, Lago never expressed his motive, making it impossible to determine whether his virtue was corrupted by his hunger for power or an affair between his wife and Othello.
Analysis Of The “Othello” Written By William Shakespeare
Othello is a play written by William Shakespeare in the year 1603. It is a story that was adapted from a book known as “Un Capitano Moro” which was written by Cinthio. Cinthio was an avid follower of Boccaccio. The initial book was published in 1545. The tale is one filled with several twists and turns. Through the play, we get to learn plenty about the main characters. We get to understand their specific roles in the story (Werstine 57). The two tales, both the play by Shakespeare and the novel by Cinthio are based on the main character “Othello” and his unfaithful Ensign, Iago. Othello was a celebrated army veteran who had amazing stories to tell. So amazing that he wood Desdemona and even married her. Iago’s intentions are rather hard to understand in this plot. He seems to be a psychopath who likes playing both sides of the fence. On one side he is helping his friend, Roderigo to woo Desdemona away from her husband, but he pretends to also be on the side of Othello. His aims are quite unclear but he is a man who is very fond of chaos and violence, and it would appear that is all it ends. In my essay, I shall make a thorough psychoanalytical criticism of the play, “Othello,” by Shakespeare by giving a summary of the play; I shall complete full psychoanalysis of the play including the characters and the author of the play.
The plot opens with an argument between a wealthy man known as Roderigo and Iago. The former had paid the latter a sizeable amount of money to help him in his suit of Desdemona (Werstine75). He came to find out that she had already gotten married to a man known as Othello, to whom Iago served as an esquire. Iago confesses to hating Othello and promises to help Roderigo to steal Desdemona from her current husband and into his hands. Iago held a grudge against Othello because Othello had passed him by on promotion and gave it, instead, to Michael Cassio. Iago and Roderigo cry out to Brabanzio, Desdemona’s father, that her daughter had been stolen by witchcraft and was now married to Othello. Brabanzio became infuriated with this news. He gathered a group of a soldier to go and locate Othello. Iago, not wanting his hate of Othello to be known, runs ahead of them to go to Othello. Simultaneously, Cassius was arriving at Othello’s residence to tell him that his services had been requested in Venice to prevent the imminent Turkish invasion. No sooner had he finished reporting this, than a Brabanzio arrived and said that they all go to Venice before the Duke and the Senate. The Duke and the Senate are convinced with Othello’s narrative that he wooed her using the tales of war (Shakespeare 23). Desdemona confirms this and says to her father that she was not under the influence of witchcraft. Brabanzio, being very cross with his daughter. He, grudgingly, accepted the decision of the Senate and allowed the meeting to proceed.
The Senate sends Othello to Cyprus to help them defend that front from the Turks, whose approach seemed inevitable. The following day they got news that all the Turkish boats had capsized in the waters and their attack was defeated like that. Othello and others then resume home and are received warmly. Little did they know the plans that Iago had in store for them. Iago finds a way to convince Roderigo to slay Cassius. They hitched a project that involved getting Cassius extremely drunk. Then Iago would tell him to go and fight with Roderigo. Cassius charged towards Roderigo thinking that he had provoked him. He chased Roderigo across the stage, and when governor Matano attempts to hold Cassius down, he gets stabbed. When Othello finds out that entire mess, he asks who was responsible and Iago, feigning reluctance, pointed the finger to Cassius. Cassius tried to get on good terms with Othello by using Desdemona (Kastan 460). By so doing, Cassius used the situation to fabricate a false story about how Desdemona was having an affair with Cassius. Othello’s rage went even higher when his wife asked him to reinstate Cassius to his position. He took this to mean that the news from Iago was entirely accurate.
On a fateful day, Desdemona was arguing to herself about why the attitude of Othello had changed so sharply. While they were taking a meal, Desdemona tried to tie her handkerchief, the first present that Othello gave her, around his head (Kastan 470). He claimed it was too small and let it fall to the floor. Emilia, Iago’s wife. She found the handkerchief and gave it to Iago. Iago then asked a seamstress to replicate the design and keeps one copy in Cassius’ room where he would see it. The king was already furious and asked her about the handkerchief. She said she had no idea where it was. Then she attempted changing the subject by revisiting the reinstatement of Cassius. Iagos also organized for a meeting with Cassius, and they met with Othello just outside of earshot. They talked about hookers and, eventually, Cassius laughed, and Othello took this as confirmation that they were having an affair. Later that night, Desdemona comes with Lodovico who has papers calling Othello to Venice and leaving Cassius in charge (Kastan 469).
The letter was the final nail on the coffin. Othello flew into a rage-blinded by jealousy and ordered Desdemona to wait for him in bed somewhat ominously. She obliged. He then came back and smothered her with a pillow until she died. Simultaneously, Iago had organized for a fight between Roderigo and Cassius. Roderigo missed his mark and was killed. Iago then came to the court complaining that Roderigo had assailed him. After killing his wife, Emilia inquires why he killed her and his response. Emily asks him why he killed her and he responds that infidelity was the main reason and cited the handkerchief. Emily goes on to explain how she was the one who found the handkerchief and gave it to Iago. Othello then realized that Othello had duped him. He attempts to kill him but is disarmed. Iago then kills his wife and flees but is caught by Ludovico and Montano. Cassius, now in a chair, is also brought in. The plot ends with Othello ending his own life with a hidden sword after they told him the potential consequences of his actions.
The first feature to be noted here is the presence of hate. The first line that Othello said in the first page was “Thou told’st me thou didst hold him in thy hate.” (Shakespeare 12) Hate is as a central ground for psychoanalysis as is love. The two seem to merge as you cannot have one without the other. In the hearts of both Iago and Rodriguez, we can see a very hostile attitude towards Othello. The rationale behind the hate that Roderigo had for Othello. He was of the opinion that Othello had taken Desdemona away from him. He was jealous of that fact. His hostility led him into trusting someone as spiteful as Iago. He plotted with Iago on the best way to get Desdemona from the clasps of Othello without knowing that he was only being used the whole time. Iago made sure that Roderigo overreacted so that he could commence his selfish plan which is to see the destruction of the house of Othello solely. Desdemona was so consumed with hatred and spite for Othello that he merely followed blindly to whichever direction Iago would point. He became the tool via which Iago could perform his destructive plan but not be liable for any part of it. Rodriguez went a step farther and attempted to kill Cassius as he had been told to do by
Iago is perhaps the most hateful villain in the whole play. He understands how to meticulously plan something so that it happens in perfection and during the play, he aimed to destroy the Othello. He hated Othello with a great hatred that is hard to fathom. According to what he told Rodriguez, Othello had been passed by on the promotion to become the right-hand man of Othello and Cassius had been chosen in his place instead. He feels like this gives him a right to destroy Othello. He lays out well-orchestrated plans to put an end to his enemy, and he collaborates with Roderigo who also has a significant amount of hate for Othello. He assumes that because he hates Othello and Roderigo also hates Othello, they can unite on this.
The first step that he takes is by going to Barbanzio and insinuates that Othello has stolen Desdemona through the act of witchcraft. He was hoping this would tear them asunder, but the plan backfired completely (Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust). Othello was able to convince the Senate as well as the Duke that the only thing he used to woo his current wife was his mouth. He enthralled her with stories about the war and that by so doing, she fell in love with him. In addition to this, Desdemona stood up to defend her husband saying that she was there entirely out of her free-will. She said this in the presence of her father who went ahead to disown her swiftly.
The second plan that he made came utterly out of pure luck. While they, Iago, Desdemona, Emily, and Roderigo, were standing awaiting Othello’s ship to dock, Cassius greeted Desdemona by clasping their hands together. Iago sees this as an opportunity to entrap Cassius. He says how he will take advantage of “as little a web as this” to trap Cassius (Shakespeare 29). He decides to deceive Othello that Cassius and Desdemona are having an affair. His plan, this time, was to use Cassius by making him stay in poor graces with Othello. During the reveling, after they won in the war, Iago made Cassius stone drunk and incited him against Roderigo. Because of the poor judgment caused by the alcohol, Cassius charged against Roderigo causing a huge commotion. Governor Montano tried to restrain Cassius, but Cassius stabbed him ((Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust). Lego sends Roderigo to raise the alarm in town. When Othello came out to know why there was commotion, lego narrated the whole ordeal but first pretended to be reluctant to betray his “friend” Cassius. The king was so furious that he stripped Cassius of all his titles.
The final part of his plan was to make Othello believe that there was an existing sexual relationship between Cassius and Desdemona. The purpose of this is to make him jealous. Lego thought that the best way to finish Othello was by taking Cassius out of the equation. He organizes for Cassius to meet Desdemona in private to increase the suspicion in the mind of Othello. When the meeting is over, Cassius walks timidly past Othello because he is not sure whether Othello has forgiven him or not (Bevington et.al np.). It was out of respect that he humbled himself. However, the king was suspicious of him, and lego kindled the fire that was within him. He suggested that the only reason one would walk so timidly is if he had something actually to hide. Desdemona pities Cassius and over dinner talks to her husband about reinstating him. Her action ended up making the king even more jealous. She ended up bringing up the issue three times, and on the final time, she had lost the handkerchief that he had given her. In advance of this, Iago had staged for a performance where they would talk with Cassius just out of earshot from Othello (Bevington et.al np.). The happy nature of their conversation, in Othello’s mind, had the effect of confirming that Cassius had an affair with Desdemona.
Additionally, the woman they were talking about, came with a handkerchief that was a duplicate of the one that Othello had given his wife as her first ever present. Eventually, Othello smothered Desdemona with a pillow until she died (Kirsch 258). The degree of hatred that lego had in his heart for Othello cannot even be quantified. It is hard to understand what his goal was indeed but it was not forged from a place of happiness.
Jealousy is another psychoanalytical criteria that are present in the play. The most magnificent depiction of jealousy is in the play is that of Othello himself. His resentment is fueled by two main things, false information given to him by Iago and a lack of trust for his wife. Iago saw his wife holding hands with Cassius and decided that he would take advantage of that to bring Othello and his wife asunder inevitably. When Iago told Othello that his wife was having an affair with Cassius, he was not sure whether to believe him or not (Bevington et.al np.). Over supper, he did not bring up the subject, but Desdemona asked him whether he could reinstate Cassius to his former position. Her act cast a considerable shadow and just like that; he believed what Iago had told him. Later, Iago staged a show for Othello to see but he would not hear what exactly was going on (Kastan 480). However, after all that, his wife was still insistent that Cassius is reinstated to his former position and this was driving the commander mad because she seemed to be confirming what lego was claiming. Her loss of the handkerchief appeared to be the last nail in the coffin. He was so jealous that he ended up killing her. His mistrust was also another reason for his jealousy. In the play, he did not, even once, ask her whether the claims were valid and even to give her a little time to defend herself at least. He took someone else’s word for it, and he ended up killing his wife who protested the whole time that she was innocent.
Where there are hate and jealousy, there must also be love. These features are interdependent. Othello had a great love for his wife. He accepted to take her with him to war because she insisted. He also defends her in court saying it was her decision and that he did not have anything to influence her decision (Shmoop Editorial Team). Desdemona is also shown to have a great love for her husband. In the courthouse, she was disowned by her father because he did not approve of the man she had married. She stuck by her man at the risk of losing her father.
Othello is in line with Shakespeare’s traditional approach to literature. He places a heavily drawn out, considerably extravagant, phrases or narcissism. His sense of style most times is pompous or even extravagant. He is always looking for theatricality. Additionally, he places a lot of tragedies in his plays. Most end with the main characters dying due to some unnecessary family feud. He continually uses metaphors to create melodrama (Freelance Writing 2016).
Othello: a Critical Character Analysis of Desdemona
An unfortunately common critique Desdemona’s character in Othello is that she presents a passive character, who is virtuous, yet lacks any real depth or resolve, and thus the tragedy is unfortunately hollow because of this problem. This critic is not well founded, as Desdemona, on the contrary, presents an image of a woman going against the cultural expectations that society has placed on her, and instead choosing to follow through on her own convictions which primarily concern loving her husband Othello, proving to be a great and resilient woman. The tragedy does not suffer from any passivity on the part of Desdemona. Rather, it is her strong resolve to trust her husband in times of crucial doubt that emphasize the tragic elements of the play.This essay will observe the many aspects of Desdemona’s character throughout the play, such as her role in the play itself as a supporting character, her inaction actually constituting strength, her initiative in pursuing Othello, her loyalty to her husband over her father,choosing to go to war, and her unconditional love for Othello. Ultimately, Desdemona is a strong-willed character who actively chooses to love her husband over any obstacle.
A major issue that critics may have with Desdemona stem from a lack of focus on her actual role in the play itself, placing unreasonable expectations on her as a supporting character.As Harley Granville-Barker suggests “Desdemona’s part in the play is a passive one” and this is true if we judge her with respects to her role in the play as a unified whole, a tragedy with all the plot elements of which a tragedy consists, without judging her character itself. Desdemona is not the focal point of the play and therefore her character must be passive enough in order to facilitate the overarching plot of Othello’s tragic fall. If Desdemona had played as large of a role in the action as Othello, the balance of the play itself would be overthrown, and the plot could not be sustained. Thus, the character of Desdemona as a truly strong willed and resolute woman, must still take a back seat, which may come across as passive to an unmindful audience. This passivity, while truly apparent, is one with reference to the Desdemona’s influence on the plot, and not to her character itself. In regards to her character, she is strong willed, and displays these qualities as the play permits.
The inactionthat critics observe with respects to Desdemona, is not truly inaction, so much as a decision to trust Othello, which at times presents itself as a type of inaction. It is important to observe a distinction between a weakness of character and inaction, and although Desdemona tends toward inaction especially toward the end of the play, she cannot be criticized of displaying a weakness of character. If she truly were to act, it would be to distance herself with her husband because of his suspicion, which would be a less noble action than trusting him, despite the result. Further, Desdemona’s apparent inaction in the play stems from her innocent nature, always believing the best of her husband, despite his often suspicious behavior. In her conversation with Emilia, she finds it hard to believe that any woman would cheat on her husband:
I have heard it said so. O, these men, these men!
Dost thou in conscience think – tell me, Emilia –
That there be women do abuse their husbands
In such gross kind? (4.3. 56-59)
She is does not lack intelligence or an ability to sense when something is amiss, as she does sense that something is wrong with Othello asking: “Why do you speak so faintly? Are you not well?.” Her awareness of the situation simply does not extend to the level of suspecting her husband of questioning her fidelity. The idea of Othello’s deep and immediate lack of trust is not given much thought, because for Desdemona it is not truly a possibility. Othello displays a weakness of character though is jealousy and lack of trust, while Desdemona’s strength of character lies in her confidence in her marriage, and unwavering personality.
Desdemona, does show a forceful personality, and she confidently moves toward her goals in the beginning of the play. Shemarries Othello, her own choice, against the Venetian suitors who her family believes she should marry. This action breaksa venetian custom through interracial marriage, displaying Desdemona’s assertive personality and ability to choose her own path, over the pre-ascribed expectations of society. Further, the ability to see Othello for who he truly is, rather than focusing on the negative reputation that he has because he is a moor, reflect Desdemona’s own depth of character. Carol Thomas Neely describes Desdemona’s actions as being without concern for the material things such as rank and class. In this action she mustalso ready to stand firm in her marriage, despite the onslaught of problems that may arise from this departure from established custom.
Desdemonacorrectly chooses to be loyal to her husband even over her father, since being Othello’s wife, her loyalties lie primarily with him. She with Othello, being strong willed, and going against her father’s wishes, and she later questions whether to show more loyalty to her father or her husband, and after deliberation she rightly chooses her husband:
My noble father,
I do perceive here a divided duty:
To you I am bound for life and education;
My life and education both do learn me
How to respect you. You are lord of all my 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.(1.3. 178-187)
She is wise in her deliberation and her ultimate choice to ally herself primarily with her husband on the basis of morality, because once she and Othello are married, her primary duty is to him over her father. Desdemona also displays her initiative and strength of will in going through with her decision, and shamelessly presenting it to her father, despite his probable reaction.
Her loyalty seems to know no bounds as she even chooses to go to war with Othello, something that is unheard of during this time in history. She explains:
I saw Othello’s visage in his mind
And to his honours and his valiant parts
Did I my soul and fortunes consecrate.
So that, dear lords, if I be left behind
A moth of peace, and he go to the war,
The rites for which I love him are bereft me,
And I a heavy interim shall support
By his dear absence. Let me go with him. (1.3. 249-256)
This unwavering resolve to support her husband through the harshness of war, challenges the established cultural norms that permeated contemporary Venice. Yet Desdemona characteristically does not concern herself with the expectations of society in this scene, even if it means going to war, something so active that it is regarded as exclusively masculine. Her concern is with the good of Othello, and not her own reputation.
Desdemona is often criticized for accepting Othello’s faults and displaying symptoms of battered wife syndrome, yet perhaps this critique is a misconstrued theory which actually relates to her active and unconditional love for Othello. The necessary function of unconditional love, the truest and purest form of love, is that it by definition knows no limits. The actions of Othello, however evil, are simply conditions that Desdemona chooses to overlook, opting for a deeper, immutable love for her husband. Her love for Othello is so strong that even after she has nearly been murdered by him, she still will not admit that he has attempted to kill her. This shows an extreme strength of character as she even now puts Othello before herself. Ironically, she parallels Othello in this continual choice of trust throughout the play, as he makes an early decision to accept Iago’s word over his wife’s. Thus, far from a passive response to the challenges that she faces, Desdemona actively chooses the more difficult path, ultimately sacrificing herself for the sake of trusting her husband. The tragic outcome at the end of the play is heightened in our minds, the more we observe the fairy-tale-like marriage between Othello and Desdemona in the beginning. Because Desdemona loves her husband to such a great extent, her murder has a greater impact on the reaction of the audience, and the tragedy is all the more forceful.
In Conclusion, we can observe that Desdemona is a strong and noble character through her various actions and speeches throughout the play while keeping a few things in mind. Her role in the play itself only permits a certain amount of activity as a supporting character, yet in the few scenes that we observe, she proves to be strong-willed and active. The inaction that we observe is more properly viewed as a firm resolve to trust her husband despite the obstacles. She willfully goes against custom when she marries Othello because of the interracial nature of the marriage. She shows a primary loyalty to Othello, her husband, over her father. Being more concerned with Othello than custom, she actively decides to go to war with him. Finally, she displays an unconditional love for her husband, deciding to trust him until the last possible moment. These actions display Desdemona as a character who is truly strong-willed, and actively chooses to love her husband, regardless of consequences.
A Review of Othello’s Decisions in Othello by William Shakespeare
Othello Revised Essay
Killing, cursing, and hurting emotionally or physically are valid proofs of cruelty. In Shakespeare’s play Othello, Othello is an honest and justice general in the citizen’s view; however, Shakespeare depicts Othello as a perpetrator of evil since his jealousy and doubts drive him to smother his beloved Desdemona. This brutal crime illuminates the idea that personal envy inevitably leads to a recession in one’s intellect.
Human always hurt the people they love the most first in life. Desdemona receives savage behaviors from Othello throughout the whole play. After Othello decides to trust Iago, he begins attacking Desdemona with filthy words. A distinctive shift occurs that if Othello were a gentle and honest man, he would never show his disrespect to a woman at least not saying them in one’s back. Iago’s fake evidence encourages him to abuse Desdemona physically. Othello slaps Desdemona in front of her cousin and other nobilities. Finally, Othello releases his inner beast, which implies he is not a polite and an educated man. In fact, the abuse is a way to convince others that he doesn’t care about rules and even his own love. Usually people exhibit their best side to the nobles and their love whereas Othello displays his extremely evil side to Desdemona’s family in order to claim his authority. Such foolish action makes people cast more doubts on his crime and his position whether he is qualified to be a respectable general.
Othello’s cruel motivation derives from political factors and the major social aspects such as discrimination on the Moor. Under society’s pressure, like calling him “the Moor”, “thick lips”, and comparing him to animal, all above discriminations drive him crazy and cause him to act in inhumanity. Such long-term pressure explodes at the same time when Othello finds out “the affair”; he finally releases his inner dark side to the audience. Another aspect is about politics that it is hard to hold such high-level occupation. Since Othello is not a noble born, he has to demonstrate his power and ability in order to prevent the White people’s mocking. If the others use his wife’s rumor as a weakness against him. Not only will his reputation be eliminated, but his power will reduce as well because a noble should not be bothered by fussy domestic things like arguing with his wife.
Othello in the entire play is surrounded by prejudice from the white people. Othello’s cruelty is derived from his prejudice towards Cassio and Desdemona. As a perpetrator, misrecognition reveals his shortcoming, which is having prejudice on others. Desdemona, as a victim, suffers cruelty all the time but forgives it, and displays an innocent and pure heart. Desdemona receives more wounds than Othello, however, she still forgives him and convinces herself not to blame on Othello. Her kindness provides Othello opportunities to kill Desdemona. Two extreme comparisons of Desdemona and Othello’s responses to one’s misrecognition clearly explain that cruelty eventually leads to evilness.
Although Othello is considered a tragic hero, he does not deserve this title because he has never admitted his cruelty in public. Othello is a perpetrator since his jealousy drives him crazy. Killing Desdemona exposes the concept that personal misunderstanding eventually leads to a decline in one’s saneness.
How Othello’s Personality Evolves in The Tragedy of Othello by William Shakespeare
The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice is a famously written tragedy play by William Shakespeare. The main character of the play, Othello, is introduced in the beginning as a brave, almighty general and is surprisingly evolved into a character whose naivety and jealousy has lead to cruel murders. Othello goes from being head over heels for his newly wed wife, Desdemona, “But that I love the gentle Desdemona,” to evilly plotting her death “I’ll tear her to pieces” (Shakespeare, 1985). The personality change that took place in Othello was mainly due to Iago’s cunning plans of deceiving him, and this paper will explore the evolution of Othello’s personality change by examining the emotional and psychological journey Othello undergoes as well as the reasons for this life-changing journey which will reveal the personality of Othello early on in the play and the personality of Othello at the end of the play along with the transition point that changed him.
The play opens with a scene of Iago and Rodrigo talking about their hate of Othello, and how Brabantio wants anything but his daughter to be married with Othello. In Brabantio’s opinion Othello is a Moorish soldier who is like a well-behaved barbarian that isn’t worthy of his daughter. However, after hearing Othello’s talking of how Desdemona fell in love with him, Brabantio agreed for his daughter to be wedded to him. When he talks about his love to Desdemona, Othello states things such as “I will… deliver of my whole course of love” and “phrase of peace” which reveal his wholehearted and never-ending love to Desdemona (Shakespeare, 1985). Despite being happy as a newlywed, Othello has other things going on for him; he’s also a triumphant general in war and well-liked within his society. While Roderigo’s hate for Othello stems from his love for Desdemona, Iago’s hate for Othello stems from being passed off to a lesser military position by Othello.
Othello begins to change from his rational and calm composure to a ferocious and groundless one as Iago begins spreading rumors of Desdemona cheating on Othello with Cassio. Iago sneakily plans out various events that lead up to him revealing the rumor. For instance, after Cassio’s reputation is damaged, Iago tries to urge Desdemona to talk to Othello for Cassio, so he can be promoted again, which can give Othello the implication that Desdemona cares for Cassio. Also, when Cassio walks out in Act 3 as soon as Othello and Iago enter, Iago states that “Cassio wouldn’t act like a guilty man when you approach,” which utilizes reverse psychology to further manipulate Othello before even revealing to him the rumor (Shakespeare, 1985). Iago’s aim was to have Othello collect his own clues and hints which would verify Iago’s rumor when he told it. Even though Iago ultimately reveals to him the rumor, the transition point in Othello doesn’t become fully evident until the scene of Othello finding Desdemona’s handkerchief in Cassio’s room.
Othello, being a man of action and being of high reputation, was enraged with the idea of being cheated on. Having a linear point of view, which can be seen from him taking everything at face-value, such as seeing the handkerchief and immediately thinking that he is being cheated on. Othello fails to ask the right questions and is easily affected by his emotions. From the play, one can see that after finding out the handkerchief, Othello has no remorse for Desdemona, and degrades himself to calling her a whore, hitting her in front of others, and at the end killing her in an unfounded jealous rage. From the beginning, Othello should’ve suspected that Iago, someone who is upset for being passed off as a lieutenant by Othello, should care for the well-being of Othello.
As can be seen from Othello’s play, Othello who started off as a selfless and moral general and newly wed groom ended up in turmoil and in killing himself due to the betrayal he believed had been done to him. Othello’s self-inflicted pain blocked him from being able to see anything, including Iago’s cunning plots, Desdemona’s never-ending love for him, and Cassio’s lack of involvement with Desdemona.