Shakespeare’s Othello is a Tragedy Essay

Shakespeare’s Othello is a Tragedy Essay

Length: 1445 words (4.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Shakespeare’s Othello is a Tragedy

A tragedy has many definitions, but the Merriam-Webster version defines it as: “a serious drama typically describing a conflict between the protagonist and a superior force (as destiny) and having a sorrowful or disastrous conclusion that excites pity or terror.” The latter part, about disastrous conclusion is true for Shakespeare’s tragedies, and Othello is no exception.

Roderigo blindly follows Iago’s lead and while his contribution to the disaster is minimal at best, he still is able to feed Iago’s desire for revenge, as all the characters do. The only difference between Roderigo and the other characters is how he does it. Roderigo is madly in love with Desdemona and wants her for himself. The first sign of Roderigo’s desires comes from Barbantio when he speaks: “I have charged thee not to haunt my doors:/In honest plainness thou hast heard me say/My daughter is not for thee…”(I, i)

Iago seduces Roderigo’s compliance in the disaster by dripping sweetened words of his attempts to sway Desdemona away from Othello. Roderigo, in his naïve and loving mind, give Iago the financial means to further his plot of disaster. Iago tells Roderigo that the money and jewels he spends go to Desdemona, but there is little evidence of this. And it seems unlikely that Iago needed large sums of money to exact his revenge on the Moor. He does it with words and a handkerchief, not rubies and emeralds.

But Roderigo’s lust for Desdemona leads to his attempt to kill Cassio. After Iago has convinced Cassio to plea to Desdemona for his rank back, Iago is then able to convince Roderigo that the way to take Desdemona is to kill Cassio (IV, ii) because, according to Iago, Cassio and Desdemona are now sleeping together.

It is ultimately his attempts to defile and kill Cassio that contribute the most to the tragedy. He causes Cassio to lose his rank (II, iii) and then attempts to kill him. The question Roderigo should’ve been asking himself is this: “If Desdemona is such a lovely, innocent creature, why does she jump from bed to bed? What makes me think that she’d stay in mine?”

Emilia’s role in the tragedy seems very small at first. Iago mentions suspicions of unfaithfulness very early on (I, iii) but it is not these suspicions that Emilia contributes to her death and the death of others. Rather, it is the very simple action of...

... middle of paper ...

... not a factor.

So what drives Iago to commit all these acts? Jealousy is a major portion, but perhaps Iago views this all as a game as well. He prides himself on his wit and cunning and is appreciated for it by his peers. Perhaps it is ego that drives Iago to do all of this, a test of his skills to see if he can keep so many threads playing together and for his benefit.

Almost all of his actions, plantings seeds of doubt (III, iii) or giving dangerous instructions (II, iii) lead to the tragic ending of the play. Even at the end, Iago refuses to explain his motives, by simply saying, “What you know, you know.” (V, ii). Perhaps this was Shakespeare’s way of saying not to look for a reason, but rather to appreciate what an amazing amount of cunning and patience this would’ve taken to pull off.

In the end, Iago’s last words perhaps best suit the play. “What you know, you know.” Everything is presented for the entire world to see, with little hidden meanings to things and actions. Roderigo’s lust, Emilia’s fear and loyalty, Desdemona’s purity, Othello’s trust and insecurities, and Iago’s jealousy and ego contribute to the “disastrous conclusion that excites pity or terror.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Tragedy Of Othello By William Shakespeare Essay

- The Tragedy of Othello, written by William Shakespeare, is a play about a Moor of Venice and his downfall by deception and love. The themes of two-facedness, narcissism, and honor are all prominent in this play; the theme overarching these, however, is loyalty. Similar to a satirist, Shakespeare shows that the true nature of a person’s loyalty is not always as it appears. Othello’s loyalty to his own honor exposes his false loyalty to his wife. Iago, the antagonist, is deceptive in portraying himself as honest and committed to those he supposedly loves, but at the same time he plans their downfall....   [tags: Othello, Iago, William Shakespeare, Narcissism]

Powerful Essays
877 words (2.5 pages)

The Tragedy Of Othello By William Shakespeare Essay

- The Tragedy of Othello “Racism springs from the lie that certain human beings are less than fully human. It 's a self-centered falsehood that corrupts our minds into believing we are right to treat others as we would not want to be treated.”- Alveda King Although most people will tell themselves that race is not an issue, the truth always is staring them straight in the eye. The fundamental crime is a flawed belief that some people are above others and deserve to look down on those different. In the play The Tragedy of Othello, William Shakespeare uses symbolism, imagery, and characters to illustrate the prejudice and racism which surrounds different ethnicities and its effects on society....   [tags: Othello, Iago, William Shakespeare, Roderigo]

Powerful Essays
1530 words (4.4 pages)

The Tragedy Of Othello By William Shakespeare Essay

- While reading the play “The Tragedy Of Othello” by Shakespeare I realized that it was almost like reading one big poem. Many of Shakespeare’s plays have a rhyme scheme this is called blank verse, “written prodomintaly in blank verse, Othello also includes prose passages (many spoken by Iago) and rhymed couplets (which punctuate the ends of some scenes)” (DiYanni 1011). The character I took the most interest in was Iago. He is portrayed as the villain throughout the play. Iago claims that he always speaks the truth when everything is an elaborated lie to manipulate others....   [tags: Othello, William Shakespeare, Marriage, Lie]

Powerful Essays
772 words (2.2 pages)

The Tragedy Of Othello By William Shakespeare Essay

- In the play “The Tragedy of Othello” by Willian Shakespeare, Othello Changes from an intelligent and confident person to a senseless and insecure person. This change in his personality occurs mainly because: Iago plans to ruin his relationship with Desdemona, he was an Outsider, he had bad judgement when it came to trusting people and failed to see reality, his negative thinking about himself and his relationship with Desdemona. Iago is a very strategic and clever person, and he despises Othello because Othello appointed Cassio as a lieutenant over Iago....   [tags: Othello, Iago, Brabantio, Desdemona]

Powerful Essays
2005 words (5.7 pages)

The Tragedy Of Othello By William Shakespeare Essay

- The Tragedy of Othello the Moor of Venice was written by William Shakespeare, and it is only one of countless notable plays he wrote. A reoccurring theme in Othello is jealousy brought on usually by deception; throughout the play people often hide their true intentions and are not always what they appear to be like W.H Auden said “There 's always another story. There 's more than meets the eye.” The relationships Iago built on manipulation, lies, and false promises were a crucial part of the play; Iago was able to deceive other characters by twisting the situation so that characters like Roderigo, Cassio, and Othello misinterpreted what they saw....   [tags: Othello, Iago, Brabantio, Desdemona]

Powerful Essays
1293 words (3.7 pages)

Essay on The Tragedy Of Othello By William Shakespeare

- In the tragedy Othello, by William Shakespeare, the main character, Othello, is being told many lies by a close friend which leads him to make rash decisions. Since Othello is a tragic hero, he has a flaw that he is not able to overcome and leads to his downfall. In this case, Othello’s flaw is his insecurities that enhance how easily he is able to believe that his wife is having an affair without any physical proof. The close friend, Iago, who deceits Othello engages in cruel acts to seek vengeance on Othello because he was not appointed second in command, but still decides to continue his malicious intent even after he attains this position....   [tags: Othello, Iago, Cruelty, Michael Cassio]

Powerful Essays
1456 words (4.2 pages)

Othello's Flaw in Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Othello Essays

- Othello's Flaw in Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Othello In Shakespeare?s play Othello, Othello himself is the tragic hero. He is an individual of high stature who is destroyed by his surroundings, his own actions, and his fate. His destruction is essentially precipitated by his own actions, as well as by the actions of the characters surrounding him. The tragedy of Othello is not a fault of a single person, but is rather the consequence of a wide range of feelings, judgments, misjudgments, and attempts for personal justification revealed by the characters....   [tags: Papers Shakespeare Othello]

Powerful Essays
809 words (2.3 pages)

To What Extent are ‘Othello’ and 'Oedipus Rex' Perfect Examples of Tragedy

- ‘Othello’ was written between 1601 and 1603. It was first performed in the Elizabethan courts during the Christmas season. The idea of a ‘perfect’ tragedy is the idea that the tragedy is faultless; it does what is expected; so makes the audience feel empathy and sympathy for the characters who suffer. There are two different types of tragedy: classical tragedy and Shakespearean tragedy. The tragic hero in this play is the main character, Othello. Othello's misfortune comes about because of his jealousy, trust, and his pride....   [tags: Othello, Tragedy, shakespeare, theatre, Oedipus Re]

Powerful Essays
1157 words (3.3 pages)

Essay about William Shakespeare 's The Tragedy Of Othello

- The presence of certain literary elements creates a more dramatic and realistic image for the readers throughout the piece. William Shakespeare included literary elements in The Tragedy of Othello to bring the story line to life. Throughout the tragedy, Shakespeare used the elements of theme, dramatic irony, and symbolism along with many others. These three literary elements are significant because they help readers fully understand the complexity of the plot. The theme of jealousy, the dramatic irony, and the symbolism throughout the tragedy create the thrilling atmosphere readers experience....   [tags: Othello, Jealousy, Iago, William Shakespeare]

Powerful Essays
710 words (2 pages)

William Shakespeare 's The Tragedy Of Othello Essay

- William Shakespeare’s “The Tragedy of Othello” shows how a manipulative villain can create chaos within a society. The play was written around the year 1603 and takes place in Venice Italy before it is repositioned to Cyprus. This Shakespearean tragedy shows the effects of jealousy, love, desire, betrayal and passion in a society with an imbalance of power in a race, gender, and social position. Shakespeare does not give specific details of Othello’s background, however, it is apparent Othello is a dark-skinned outsider....   [tags: Othello, Iago, William Shakespeare, Marriage]

Powerful Essays
928 words (2.7 pages)