Free Essays - Evil and Good in Othello

Free Essays - Evil and Good in Othello

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Evil and Good in Othello



Life in general is often used as a system of ways to define what kind of person you are by its end. Shakespeare takes that theory into test upon his characters in his work of the famous play Othello. Through the verbal twists and turns along with the addition of color symbolisms, the personalities of Othello, Iago, Desdemona are revealed to their fullest extents, along with their own balance of good and evil within. When this is realized by this famous Shakespearian work, the judgment of good and evil is carried out, and as a result of mass purging of emotions, neither prevails in the resolution.


Othello, due to his Moorish nature but at the same time morally white and untainted, can be considered grey with the opening of the play, but possesses the potential to become either the most brilliant white or the darkest black. From the way that he is described by Iago and sometimes Brabantio, he is a dark beast lurking in the shadows, but he is as white as he can be by the Duke. Grey is a color not quite white nor black, hesitation and confusion wavering behind his eyes. This confusion is caused by his naiveté at trusting people too easily, and Iago eagerly takes this weakness to his advantage. So that when Iago manipulates Othello, Othello unknowingly gives in to the temptation, even going as far as telling Iago "I am bound to thee for ever" (III. iii. 242). Othello at this point is completely taken in with Iago's mind poisoning and willingly submits to him, yielding to his trickeries. Inevitably with a little push from Iago, Othello slowly goes down the path of dark and pure blackness, with murder evident in mind. With Iago's tampering of his inner moralities, Othello turns black like a speeding snowball, once Iago set him on the right path. Everything else Othello had done the damage himself; Iago only suggested the notion in the most subtle of ways. Thus he sometimes "breaks out to savage madness" as Iago put it, when being put under such pressure (IV. i. 65). He is so far gone that he even has epileptic fits hearing of Desdemona's infidelity.

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Othello turned out to be evil when he became so mad that he extended his hands to Desdemona's neck and smothered her to death with a pillow. Only after he kills her he realizes too late that Desdemona is innocent from the start, and has been shining ever since, and only the darkness has clouded his vision and perception of her tempting him to kill her. The fact that he has succumbed to that temptation shows how the good in him has lost its battle to the evil corruptions of Iago, even though he made some futile struggles against them. Othello has given in towards evil because of his weakness and his judgment is heightened by his murder of his wife Desdemona. Even though at the end he seems repentant towards the deeds that he has done, he still lost, and decides to end his sufferings by offering his final defeat -- his life.


Even so, evil has not truly prevailed by the end of the play, and is instead overcome by the good that is the Venetian society. Iago holds one true goal in his plotting -- to corrupt Othello so that he will turn against the ones closest to him. But as the play progresses, there also seem to be a power struggle, whereas Iago is jealous of Othello's position and empowering authority and wants Othello out of the way so that he can assume power. Iago is tired of acting like one "courteous and knee-crooking knave" like he always appears to be (I. i. 46). He does not the type of servant that is humble and waits for his master like an obedient mule, and only to be tossed out when he is all weathered and old. No, since Iago is unable to choose to be a master, he is the servant that feeds off the fame and "keep yet their hearts attending on themselves," still showing his service to his master but instead is more self-preserving with no attachments at all towards the master (I. i. 52). Iago chooses to follow someone who is able to be manipulated, and declares upon the opening of the play that he is no loyal servant to Othello. He puts up a front of honesty and seeming whiteness, but inside he is just as black as he is white on the outside. In this way he goes to battle the good, the whiteness in Othello, and in turn making his defeat beneficial to his evil plans. It is very obvious that his challenge against good is a victory when Desdemona is murdered by Othello, but evil's victory is short-lived. Almost immediately, Iago's wife Emilia turns against him and uncovers the blackness that he truly is underneath his false honesty. Ulterior moves exposed, he is hunted down by the officials of Venice after killing Emilia and brought back to be tortured. His plans have failed, lost to the good and foiled by societies' ironies, betrayed by his wife, after successfully making Othello kill Desdemona for doing the exact same thing. In this way, evil has not prevailed, and goal gone unaccomplished by good's interruption. Evil may have won Othello and Desdemona's soul, but in itself evil did not triumph over good, as Iago lost his power and discovered and punished accordingly.


All in all, evil and good is expressed as a never-ending fight in Shakespeare's tragedies. None overcomes the other, ending the play in a stalemate and effectively purges deep emotions within the audience. Also, the inevitable stalemate that leaves both sides wounded stirs some incomprehensible feelings as to why humans even bother fighting at all in the first place. It is not humans' place to judge, but to act accordingly to the great director that is the world. World puts humans through excruciating hardships in order to define a person's soul's worth at the time of death. Life is the judgment for humans, as they, like Othello, contain both black and white and has the potential to turn either way down each individual life's paths. Evil and Good is recognized as each quality manifests during a person's lifetime, and only at the moment of death is he able to look back and see what he truly is without hindrance of the other.


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