Black Heart in a White World: Othello

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In the play, Othello written by William Shakespeare in 1602, the protagonist Othello has three distinct personalities that abide through the conflicts in the play and define his personality more and more through each page turn. Throughout the play the reader witnesses many different personalities carried out by Othello, the most prominent being; doubtfulness, rationality, and his being a “jealous monster”. Even though on the surface, his personalities may seem very contradictive of one another, they are not. Through his rationality he becomes doubtful, unfortunately making him a jealous monster in regard to Desdemona leading to his psychological weakness of inferiority.

There are many instances in the play when Othello’s personality can be described as doubtful. One of the utmost occurrences of Othello’s doubt can be seen when he was questioning his wife, Desdemona about where her handkerchief was. He and Iago saw it at Cassio’s house earlier that day, so he jumped to the conclusion that he she left it at Cassio’s house when she “slept” with him. The handkerchief has important significance to Othello because it was his first gift to Desdemona and a symbol of his love for her. The fact that she has misplaced it leads Othello to believe she doesn’t care about their relationship anymore thus creating massive amounts of doubt within his heart. However, Othello is partially creating the doubt on his own because he isn’t certain that Desdemona slept with Cassio, he is just relying on what he saw and heard from Iago. Othello also displays doubt in his servant, Iago. This is seen when Othello keeps questioning him about what he is thinking in regard to Desdemona and Cassio, asking him what he’s trying to imply after Iago has stated sev...

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...e of less stature and it was breaking the rules of society to break the color barrier in regard to marriage. Through his suffering came jealousy which has a direct effect on Othello’s actions, such as threatening to kill the lovely Desdemona. His inferiority has also lead Othello to be skeptical of his marriage, wondering why Desdemona married him, and if she plans on leaving him anytime soon due to societal pressures and Cassio’s “love.”

Through Othello’s three distinct personalities the reader gets a taste of the play that they wouldn’t have otherwise. His actions speak loudly, and the audience is never left in confusion as to why Othello is doubtful, rational, and a jealous monster. Through clear characterization in regard to the character, Othello, Shakespeare does a nice job of showing his psychological weakness without writing it word for word in the text.

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