Othello's Fainting as a Point of No Return

Othello's Fainting as a Point of No Return

Length: 1022 words (2.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Othello's Fainting as a Point of No Return

In Act IV, Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s Othello, Othello faints when confronted with the possibility that his wife has been unfaithful. Through the past few scenes, Iago, exploiting Othello’s concerns about his race, has performed a delicate act, slowly but surely leading him towards the inevitable conclusion that his wife and Cassio have ‘cuckolded’ him. When Iago finally refers explicitly to Desdemona’s sexual betrayal, Othello can bear it no longer and faints to escape the reality he cannot bear.

From the outset, Othello has been uncomfortable in aristocratic Venetian society. He has deep insecurities about his ability to fulfill his role as Desdemona’s husband, both sexually and socially. Othello is elated when he realizes that beautiful young Desdemona is attracted to him since he perceives himself to be unworthy of her love, primarily due to his old age, physical unattractiveness, and most importantly because he is a black Moor. Thus, his realization of his racial identity figures prominently in his mindset. Sexually, he fears being unable to satisfy his wife’s desires; for it would be only natural for her to, having sealed the vows of marriage, seek a companion more like her. For he is “rude […] in speech, / And little blessed with the soft phrase of peace” (1.3:81-2), most unfit to wed the daughter of the noble senator Brabanzio[1]. Thus, he makes it clear that he prefers the military atmosphere to the aristocratic civilian one.

While Othello has thoroughly internalized his concerns regarding his marriage, shrewd Iago is able to perceive and exploit them. Iago’s villainous brilliance is manifest in his ability to take himself into Othello’s confidence. The relationship that develops between the two is of great significance. Iago is most careful to avoid explicitly accusing Desdemona of adultery until the time is right. Instead, he gradually weaves the thought into Othello’s mind so that Othello is able to independently arrive at the same conclusion. While initially Iago exhibits deference and fear of his king, the power dynamic progressively shifts so that the two become almost equal allies in an unholy conspiracy. Othello, at one point, is almost thankful to Iago for revealing to him the truth, declaring that “I am bound to thee for ever” (3.3:218). Iago reciprocates in the next scene upon being appointed lieutanant, vowing “I am your own for ever” (3.3:482). Especially in this scene, Iago can be seen as representing Satan himself, inducing good Othello to err thereby securing a vow of loyalty from his servant.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Othello's Fainting as a Point of No Return." 123HelpMe.com. 23 Jan 2020

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

The Point of No Return Essay

- The Point of No Return In 1763 Britain tended not to involve itself in the welfare of its colonies but after the expensive wars fought on American ground disputes arose over money. British troops had been left in America in case of further battle with the Red Indians or French-Canadians, beforehand the colonists had not been heavily taxed but the government viewed the fact that British troops were at hand in America as a profitable situation and therefore raised taxes with the excuse that the British troops were present for colonist defense....   [tags: Papers]

Research Papers
892 words (2.5 pages)

The Mysterious Author of “The Return”: Alistair Macleod Essay

- Since the short story “The Return” was just discovered a few months ago, the author remains unknown; unknown until now that is. This paper will prove without a doubt that “The Return” was written by author, Alistair Macleod. The mother character in “The Return” shows resemblance to the female characters in other stories written by Macleod. Also the tense of the story is also the same as most of the stories Macleod had written. As “the return” is a story based around a family, just like many of Macleod’s stories,....   [tags: Return, Alistair Macleod, ]

Research Papers
539 words (1.5 pages)

Othello is Solely Responsible for his Downfall in Shakespeare's Othello Essays

- I believe Iago has nothing to do with Othello's downfall as Othello is an easily mislead man who is easily influenced. Not only did Iago not directly say Desdemona was having an affair, he neither didn’t give proof to confirm the rumours. By Othello believing the lies, it surfaces his inability to trust and have faith in his own wife. Othello is written by William Shakespeare and was set in Cyprus and Venice during the 16th century. It is about a well-respected military soldier who due to lies and deceits killed his wife for no reason and after turned the knife towards himself....   [tags: othello]

Research Papers
1629 words (4.7 pages)

Othello is Not a Tragic Hero Essay

- Othello has been described as one of William Shakespeare’s most popular plays because the play focuses on its themes of good and evil, military, politics, love and marriage, religion, racial prejudice, gender conflict, and sexuality; but the controversy and debate surrounding Othello is “Why is Othello a qualification for a tragedy?” Most readers are aware of the many famous deaths or acts of death within the Shakespearean plays. And when the main characters die in Shakespeare’s plays, indeed, the readers would categorize the play as a tragedy....   [tags: Othello Essays]

Research Papers
1483 words (4.2 pages)

Essay about Othello And Desdemona

- Obsidian and Alabaster: Othello and Desdemona Othello and Desdemona’s marriage was doomed from the start. Even considering the racial nature of the marriage, his lack of a constant home, and the improper method of his courting, there is another reason why their marriage would never have worked. Othello’s label of Desdemona prevents him from considering her a person. He thinks of her instead as superior to himself in every way, to the point that she is a god. Her race, beauty, and status make her godly in his mind....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Othello and Desdemona]

Free Essays
986 words (2.8 pages)

Essay on Mood, Atmosphere and Place in The Return of the Native

- Mood, Atmosphere and Place in The Return of the Native Throughout The Return of the Native, Thomas Hardy is very successful in creating mood and atmosphere. Some scenes are so descriptive that a very clear mental picture can be formed by the reader, causing a distinct sense of place. It seems that through his words, Hardy is submerging the readers into his story letting us take part only as an onlooker. It is at the beginning that the strongest mood, the heaviest atmosphere and the most obvious sense of place occurs, as once the scene is set and the characters are introduced, scenery is much repeated....   [tags: Return of the Native]

Research Papers
1013 words (2.9 pages)

Solomon's The Return of the Screw Essay

- Solomon's The Return of the Screw Mrs. Grose, playing cleverly on the governess' visions, convinces her she is seeing Peter Quint and Ms. Jessel in an effort to drive her mad. At least, that is according to Eric Solomon's "The Return of the Screw." Mrs. Grose tries to remove the governess to get to Flora. Mrs. Grose will do anything to gain control of Flora, as she proved when she murdered Peter Quint. He, along with Ms. Jessel, was too much of an influence on the children....   [tags: Solomon Return of the Screw]

Free Essays
798 words (2.3 pages)

Shakespeare's Othello - Desdemona in Othello Essay

- Desdemona in Othello         In William Shakespeare’s tragic drama Othello, the wife of the protagonist is Desdemona. She is a lovely, intelligent, wholesome and pious person. This essay will analyze her.   In Act 1 Scene1, Iago persuades the rejected suitor of Desdemona, Roderigo, to accompany him to the home of Brabantio, Desdemona’s father, in the middle of the night. Once there the two awaken him with loud shouts about his daughter’s elopement with Othello. In response to Iago’s vulgar descriptions of Desdemona’s involvement with the general, Brabantio arises from bed and, with Roderigo’s help, gathers a search party to go and find Desdemona and bring her home....   [tags: Othello essays]

Research Papers
1775 words (5.1 pages)

Essay about Elements of Fantasy in Catwings Return

-     Although it is a children's book, Ursula Le Guin's short story "Catwings Return" is a perfect example of the Fantastical genre. Published in 1989, "Catwings Return" has some elements similar to those found in Magical Realism, but the story mostly has elements of Fantasy in it. By examining the American story "Catwings Return," a reader will be able to see the similarities and differences between Magical Realism and Fantasy.   In order to have some characteristics similar to those in Magical Realism, a text must contain both realistic elements and magical elements (Flores 112)....   [tags: Catwings Return]

Research Papers
1387 words (4 pages)

Macbeth and Othello Essay

- Macbeth and Othello “Upon my head they plac’d a fruitless crown And put a barren sceptre in my gripe, Thence to be wrench’d with an unlineal hand, No son of mine succeeding” (Macbeth, III.i.62) “Renew I could not like the moon” (Timon of Athens, IV.iii.68) What distinguishes Macbeth and Othello from other tragedies is the fact that their protagonists are neither fathers nor sons, mothers nor daughters. We know nothing of Macbeth or Othello’s parents, and neither of them has children....   [tags: Shakespeare macbeth Othello Essays]

Research Papers
2878 words (8.2 pages)

Related Searches

Since Othello has overcome the intellectual hurdle of his belief in Desdemona’s flawlessness, his next step must be to sacrifice his wife and to depute Iago to execute the adulterer Michael Cassio. In doing so, he fulfills his own desire for personal revenge as well as his commitment to Iago.

In order that he may have a healthy marriage, Othello had excised any possible doubts about Desdemona, replacing them with an idealized conception of a virginal eternally faithful bride. Thus, if he wished to achieve his end, Iago would have to destroy Othello’s perception of Desdemona’s purity. It seems that nothing offended Othello more than the image of another man copulating with his wife. When Iago suggests that Othello witness for himself Cassio being intimate with Desdemona, Othello is visibly shaken, and backs down in his insistence on spectral evidence. Throughout all this, Iago does nothing more than insinuate wrongdoing. When Iago explicitly charges Cassio with admitting to adultery, Othello asks if he did “lie with her”. Exploiting the nuances of English diction, Iago slyly responds “With her, on [top of her], what you will” (4.1:33) While Othello has, to a certain extent, conditioned himself in his sessions with Iago, it is the physical component of Desdemona’s adultery that overcomes with emotion, leading to him fainting in a trance. Being a warrior, he is able to intellectually think of the concept of adultery. But when he is himself the victim, when he imagines being cuckolded in such a way that another man occupies the position on top of his wife, he is nauseated.

Othello’s fainting represents a climactic moment in the play. Having crossed the point of no return and declared fealty to Iago, he can no longer harbor tender feelings towards Desdemona. Picturing his wife with another man enables him to realize his difficult duty. Moreover, it allows him to move on and to go about the rectification of the situation.

[1] William Shakespeare, Othello, In The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces. (New York: W.W. Norton, 1999)

Othello's Suicide as a Means of Escape

In Shakespeare’s Othello, Othello’s suicide represents the culmination of a gradual progression. The Moor starts out confronted with racial insensitivities that tarnish his image as a brilliant Venetian general. His insecurities regarding his sexual appeal to Desdemona define the nature of their future relationship. Iago’s brilliant manipulation of the general’s weaknesses allows him to lead Othello to his doom.

While Desdemona’s betrayal harmed Othello, it also reinvigorated him as it provided him with the mission of seeking vengeance against his wife. Initially though he may have fainted upon imagining his wife and Cassio intimate with one another, his skills as a soldier enable him to focus on the task at hand. He efficiently deputizes Iago to execute Cassio while he himself kills Desdemona.

Earlier, Othello commented that with Desdemona his world was ordered and without her there was chaos. However as time progresses, Othello becomes desensitized to the violence he must direct; he assumes the cold-hearted character of Iago, with whom he had traded vows of allegiance. Othello’s true emotional breakdown occurs as he listens to Emilia’s revelations about the origins of the handkerchief Cassio flouted around. Othello, in his own mind, followed a precise chain of evidence, provided by Iago, to convict Desdemona of adultery. His realization that he has failed, not as a husband, but as a military tactician is what he cannot bear: evidence of his own great flaw. He realizes he is responsible for the deaths of Desdemona and he has no option but to escape, which he does—by taking his own life.
Return to 123HelpMe.com