Essay about Shakespeare's Othello

Essay about Shakespeare's Othello

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“I asked her to wear something revealing, so she showed up in a prophet's toga.”(CITE) Jarod Kintz’s words are an example of miscommunication, or failure to comprehend meaning. In this case, it is implied that one person misunderstood the message of another, but incomprehension also applies to problems other than falsely interpreted requests. Incomprehension can occur when people misinterpret another’s words or intentions, or when a person misreads situations or events. The outcome described in Kintz’s quote is unexpected and unintended, but there are instances of incomprehension that have consequences of greater severity. Perhaps a classic tragedy with a high body count falls under these parameters.

Nick Potter states: “Othello is a tragedy of incomprehension, not at the level of intrigue but at the deepest level of human dealings. No one in Othello comes to understand himself or anyone else.” Within Shakespeare’s Othello, no character fully understands themselves of one another. This is especially true in human dealings, where the intentions of characters and how others interpret them are often misaligned. Conflict, and eventually, tragedy arises in Othello due to the incomprehension between characters, as well as within the characters themselves. From the reader’s perspective, it is tragic to understand the reality behind all the incomprehension, since the characters are oblivious to what the readers are aware of.

Characters in the play fail to comprehend Iago’s true nature until it is too late. Those interacting with Iago fall into the belief that Iago is loyal to his superiors, when Iago is actually focused on bringing them (Cassio and Othello) down. Iago constructs a false impression of his loyalty to Othello through ...


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... as it unfolds. It is saddening to see these characters fail again and again to understand each other, and themselves. Within our own lives however, we are not so different from the characters of the play. Many things are beyond our comprehension, and it is easy for suffering to arise when people are without understanding. Alas, Shakespeare has given us fair warning of the tragedy that could spring from incomprehension. It would be unwise to take this warning for granted; perhaps a pursuit of greater understanding will correlate with less tragedy among our lives.


Works Cited

Crawford, Alexander W. Hamlet, an ideal prince, and other essays in Shakesperean interpretation: Hamlet; Merchant of Venice; Othello; King Lear. Boston R.G. Badger, 1916. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2009. (April 30 2014) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/othello/othelloessay2.html >.

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