Essay on Othello

Essay on Othello

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"Othello" is a good example of Aristotelian drama. It is simple play and the focus is on a very small cast of characters. It has few distractions from the main plot and concentrates on just a few themes, such a jealousy, prejudice, pride and honesty. Jealousy is the emotion that drives the action of Othello. It has the classical unities of time, place (setting is in Venice in the first act and Cyprus thereafter) and action. Othello's cast is made up of "ordinary" people of moderate rank, and not of heroic stature and the dramatic action is interpersonal rather than universal.

The opening act in Venice serves as a prologue to the tragedy. It introduces the characters and gives us some insight of the authoritarian government controlled by the Venetian senators. Also, we begin to understand Othello's tenuous standing in Venice, as a well as Desdemona's privileged background. The opening scene establishes Iago's malicious character, but it also sets forth the key elements of the tragedy's conflict - that is, it reveals Iago's deep resentment toward Othello. Iago was deeply upset and his pride hurt by Cassio's promotion over him. This establishes the motive for his hatred toward Othello and his jealousy toward Cassio. Another key element introduced is Othello's race. Racial slurs such as a "thick -lips" "an old black ram," "the sooty bosom of such thing as thou art,"1 are made by Roderigo, Iago and Brabanito. In order to disguise his deep disappointment and conceal his plans for revenge, Iago begins early in the play to strengthen his image as "honest Iago." He openly divulges his plan of destruction and admits "I am not what I am." Outwardly he hides his hostility behind a mask of loyalty and duty.

Othello's...


... middle of paper ...


...ce and comes to a more complete self-knowledge before death. He realizes that she was blameless, but has difficulty dismissing the idea that she was unfaithful until Emilia discloses Iago's wicked scheme. He justifies that he kills her out of "duty" and not out of revenge. In his words, he kills her "else she'll betray more men." 3 In the end Othello destroys his reputation, his happiness, himself and what he loves best, his wife.

"Although the spotlight is on Iago throughout most of play, in the end it is Othello's tragedy- the pain and suffering and misfortune that make this drama so compelling."3

Footnotes


  1. Bloom, Harold. William Shakespeare The Tragedies. New York: Chelsea House, 1985
  2. Fallon, Robert Thomas Shakespeare. Chicago, Ivan R. D.
  3. Mason, Pamela "Othello" Cambridge University 2003


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