Othello the Outsider Essay

Othello the Outsider Essay

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Othello the Outsider

      Shakespeare's tragic hero, Othello, was a man whose gifts far outnumbered his weaknesses. On the battlefield, he was accomplished; in his profession, he was highly ranked; and, in his life, he was blissfully married. Despite these great advantages, however, Othello's destiny was ruin. Everything he had so carefully made for himself would be destroyed by one flaw: his fear of remaining an outsider. He feared this fate, yet he harped on it continuously, tearing himself between his identity as a foreigner and his desire to live as a normal citizen. Even so far back as his first public speech, perturbations caused by this internal unrest surfaced, and it was unrest that would ultimately lead to his horrible and complete undoing.


      Othello's first speech is an address to the Venetian council, through which he introduces himself to the council members. Brabantio, Desdemona's angered father, has accused Othello of bewitching his daughter and stealing her away into marriage, and Othello is defending himself against these charges. To start his case, he begins thusly, "Most potent, grave, and reverend signors, / My very noble and approved good masters, / That I have ta'en away this old man's daughter, / It is most true; true I have married her" (page 19). Just by itself, this is perhaps the most poetic stanza of the play to this point, yet he continues it in short order with, "...Rude am I in my speech, / And little blessed with the soft phrase of peace" (page 19). Now, only seven lines into Othello's first public text, he has already made use of his outsider status. By humbling himself amidst spectacular oration, he is appearing non-threatening to the judges, while still making a great case. T...

... middle of paper ...

... true; true I have married her.

The very head and front of my offending

Hath this extent, no more. Rude am I in my speech,

And little blessed with the soft phrase of peace;

For since these arms of mine had seven years' pith

Till now some nine moons wasted, they have used

Their dearest action in the tented field;

And little of this great world can I speak

More than pertains to feats of broils and battle;

And therefore little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnished tale deliver

Of my whole course of love - what drugs, what charms,

What conjuration, and what mighty magic

(For such proceeding I am charged withal)

I won his daughter.


Works Consulted


The Tragedy of Othello the Moor of Venice, William Shakespeare, I.III.76-94


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