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A Literary review of William Shakespeare's play Othello - Essay Example

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2. Othello has a heroic background as a general. The government of Venice has placed great faith in his judgment. Montano, the out-going governor of Cyprus, praises Othello's character and leadership. What is it, then, in a man so well-respected, that makes him so vulnerable to Iago's machinations that he turns his love for Desdemona into jealousy and hatred?…
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A Literary review of William Shakespeares play Othello
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Download file to see previous pages He is admirable in many ways, and seems to have led a blameless life before the meddling of Iago in his relationship with his wife Desdemona. Despite all his heroic attributes, there is one thing that proves to be his downfall: Othello cannot free himself from the prejudice against his religion and race which he faces, and this makes him over-sensitive to criticism and much too hasty in defending his honor. Iago describes Othello at the very start of the play as “The Moor” (1.1.39) and Roderigo calls him “the-thick lips” (1.1.65) before we have had a chance even to meet him, and this sets the scene of a society which judges people by the color of their skin. In Shakespearean times English audiences would very rarely have seen a black man, and so this element of difference would have been something exotic and perhaps also a little shocking to them too. It is clear that Iago does not like Othello. The men of Venice suspect that he has used witchcraft, which is not permissible for Christian citizens and a Senator asks “Did you by indirect and forced courses/ Subdue and poison this young maid’s affections/ Or came it by request and such fair question/ As soul to soul affordeth? (1.3.111-113) Against such a scandalous suggestion, Othello responds with an answer that would stresses his own bravery and her own freely given love for him: “She loved me for the dangers I had passed,/ And I loved her that she did pity them. This only is the witchcraft I have used.” (1.3.166-168) Othello wants to be like the rest of them, successful in his job and happy with his wife, whom he loves. Unfortunately, this is precisely what Iago resents, because Iago is jealous and thinks that people who are not Venetians and Christians should not enjoy the benefits of a noble position. When Iago sets up his plan to trick Othello by pretending that Desdemona is unfaithful, he is targeting the point where Othello is most weak. His pure and beautiful wife is, to Othello, the most precious thing in his life. For Othello, Desdemona’s love signifies acceptance in this new world, and her conventional innocence and beauty are the qualities that he cannot have himself, because of his appearance and background. Through her, he feels at peace with the and successful at last after many years of hardship. This is a kind of pride, but most people would forgive him for this because he is a faithful husband and dutiful servant of the court. One of the interesting aspects of the play is the fact that Othello believes Iago’s accusations, and does not trust in the faithfulness of Desdemona. His reaction to the accusation is very extreme and he can hardly speak before falling down in a trance. (4.1.42) His honesty and truthfulness are no use to him in the face of such deceit, and the supposed knowledge completely overwhelms him so that all he can think of is revenge. The irony of the play is that it is his high moral standards, and his attachment to honor and duty that make him so intolerant of supposed infidelity. At the end of the play, when Desdemona is dead and Othello is about to kill himself he tries to explain this paradox to himself and to the audience. He wants to be remembered as he was, a man of high honor but also one who made a dreadful and violent mistake: “An honourable murderer, if you will,/ For naught I did in hate, but all in honour.” ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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