Use of Irony in Othello


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Use of Irony in Othello

 

      Shakespeare's plays rely largely on irony.   There are three kinds

of irony presented in this novel.  They  are: situational, verbal, and

dramatic.   Irony plays an important role in Othello.   It creates suspense,

and adds interest to the story.

 

      There are many examples of situational irony in this play.  Cassio

was the one Iago wanted dead or out of his position. At the end of the play,

Cassio was the only one that did not die and Othello actually promoted him

to a higher position.   In the end Iago never accomplishes what he started

to do-- to get back at Othello and take Cassio's place.  Both Othello and

Iago treat their wives horribly.  Both killed their wives even through

their innocence.  Iago killed his wife because she was working against his

plan.  Othello killed his wife because he thought she cheated on him when

she really  didn't.  Before he killed her,  Iago used his wife in a way

that helped him to betray Othello.  She was a good friend of Desdemona's

and she worked against her friend without knowing it.  She took Desdemona's

handkerchief because Iago said he wanted it.   Iago then placed the

handkerchief in Cassio's room to make him look guilty.  Also,   throughout

the play, it seemed that Othello was the only one who didn't know the truth.

 Shakespeare uses situational irony well to  make the story more

interesting.

 

      The verbal irony  in this novel can sometimes be humorous because

of how ironic it is.

 

        Othello often said things that were actually the opposite of Iago:

"O, thou art wise! 'Tis certain"(IV.I.87),  "Honest Iago . . . "(V.II.88),

(II.III.179) & (I.III.319),  "I know, Iago, Thy honesty and love doth mince

this matter"(II.III.251-52).   These lines are just a few of the ironic

that Othello says to Iago.  They show the trust that Othello mistakenly

puts in his "best friend."  Most things Iago says are ironic and he's

always lying.  Othello still considered him his best friend but Iago was

the only one Othello trusted although he was constantly lying. He says, "My

lord, you know I love you"(III.III.136).  This is a blatant lie - Iago does

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and would do anything to make "his lord's" life miserable.  He does not

love Othello.  One line that Iago says is very ironic in several ways.  He

says, "O, beware, my lord, of jealousy!  It is the green-eyed monster,

which doth mock the meat it feeds on"(III.III.192).  This line covers many

things because jealousy is the reason Iago is betraying Othell o and

ruining everyone else's lives in the first place.  Also, jealousy is what

causes Othello to eventually kill his wife.  Just a short sidenote, the

metaphor coined by Shakespear of jealousy being a "green-eyed monster"  is

very famous and a very  well written phrase.   Early in the play,

Desdemona's father says to Othello, "Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes

to see.  She has deceived her father, and may thee"(I.III.317).  This is

not good for Othello to hear.  This just helps to enforce what Iago is

trying to him to believe about Desdemona  cheating on him.  There are many

examples of verbal irony in Othello that add humor to the story and makes

it more interesting to read(or watch).

 

      Dramatic irony plays an important role in captivating the audience.

Dramatic irony makes parts of a story more interesting for the audience to

know something the characters don't.  The strongest piece of dramatic irony

which plays out throughout the story is the fact that the reader/veiwer

knows that Desdemona is innocent.  Along with this, the audience also knows

that Iago is really crooked. The reader knows all of Iago's schemes and

lies.   Othello knows none of these things.  He believes that Iago is

honest and that his wife is guilty of adultery.  More instances of dramatic

irony show up as characters think aloud to the audience through asides.

Then, the audience knows what is going on when most characters don't.

Dramatic irony is exciting and it makes the reader feel like part of the

story.

 

        Throughout the play, Shakespear uses irony to add humor, suspense,

and just to make it more enjoyable.  The three different kinds of irony;

situational, verbal and dramatic, all make the play a classical

Shakespeare play.


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