Free Soliloquies Essay - Othello’s Soliloquy

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Analysis of Othello’s Soliloquy

During Othello’s soliloquy in Scene 3, ll. 299-318, Shakespeare uses the literary devices of imagery, symbolism, and antithesis to develop the state of mind of Othello during this strenuous time in his life. Othello, who seems to intrinsically believe that as a public figure he is fated to be unsuccessful at marriage, is torn between his love for Desdemona and the possibility that she is having an affair with Michael Cassio. This particular passage comes at a juncture after he denies that this could be true, and before he is finally convinced of his wife's infidelity.

The fact that Othello is wavering between believing Iago and trusting his wife is reflected in the imagery Shakespeare uses in the soliloquy. The first image that is used is that of a falcon. Lines 301-304 read: “If I do prove her haggard, / Though that her jesses were my dear heartstrings, / I’d whistle her off and let her down the wind to prey at fortune.” This shows that Othello is still unsure about Desdemona, and claims that though he is in love with Desdemona, he would drop her if he found out she was cheating. This is quite a strong willed statement, but it is diminished by lines 319-320, which follow the entrance of Desdemona and Emilia into the chamber. Othello says, “If she be false, heaven mocks itself! / I’ll not believe ‘t.” This is an example of how turbulent Othello’s state of mind is. The steadfast determination expressed using the falcon image sort of “melts” when he sees Desdemona, and he immediately professes denial that she could be untrue to him. Yet, just ten lines earlier (l. 308), Othello says, “She’s gone! I am abused!” and proceeds to lament the very institution of marriage: “O cure of marriage, ? That we can call these delicate creatures ours / And not their appetites!” Shakespeare’s placing of these three different conclusions Othello has drawn in such close proximity is an example of antithesis, and a testament to the changing and chaotic state of mind of Othello.

Additional symbols are used in the soliloquy which exemplify this as well. In lines 311-314, he says: “I had rather be a toad / And live upon the vapor of a dungeon / Than to keep in the corner the thing I love / For others’ uses.
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