The Theme of Control in Shakespeare's Othello

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The Theme of Control in Othello Throughout history, powerful empires with boundless control have had a tendency to fall victim to corruption. It is common knowledge, among political scientists and historians, that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. William Shakespeare's "Othello, the Moor of Venice" (reprinted in Laurence Perrine and Thomas R. Arp, Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense, 6th ed. [Fort Worth: Harcourt, 1993] 1060-1147) contains several themes, but one theme in particular supports the truth of this knowledge. In "Othello, the Moor of Venice," the theme of control is one that causes corruption. Othello's control is stolen by Iago and, Iago's overbearing control of Othello's emotions causes chaos and absence of control until Lodovico arrives at the end of the story. At the beginning of the play, Othello is in control. First of all, Othello has military control. Being a seasoned warrior, he is appointed by the Duke of Venice to lead the Venetian forces. This position entails a great deal of control; as general, Othello has the power to organize and order the Venetian forces at will. Secondly, Othello has control in dangerous predicaments. After discovering the harmful intentions of Brabantio, Othello shows confidence of his control in Act I, Scene 2, and relies on his credentials: "Let him do his spite. My services which I have done the signiory Shall outtongue his complaints" (1.2.18-20). When Brabantio arrives with his troops and both sides draw their swords, Othello demonstrates his control again: "Keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them" (1.2.59). Through the whole ordeal, Othello remains an author... ... middle of paper ... ...ello, "O thou dull Moor! That handkerchief thou speak'st of I found by fortune and did give my husband" (5.2.224-25), Iago stabs and kills Emilia from behind. Next, Othello wounds Iago, stabs himself, and he dies while kissing Desdemona's dead body. Finally, Lodovico arrives and the chaos ceases. To summarize, one important theme in Shakespeare's "Othello, the Moor of Venice" is the theme of control; possession of control changes dramatically throughout the play. Othello's control is stolen by Iago, and Iago's overbearing control of Othello's emotions causes chaos and absence of control until Lodovico arrives at the end of the story. William Shakespeare's Othello is a direct commentary on society. The theme of control in society, apparent to Shakespeare in this play, is a prevalent view of society today.

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