William Shakespeare's Othello

William Shakespeare's Othello

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William Shakespeare was born in Stratford upon Avon in April 1564. He was married to Ann Hathaway and had 3 children with her. He started his theatrical career at the rose theatre and continued to work there until the company had to build a new theatre. By this time Shakespeare was very successful and was able to partly fund this. Shakespeare plays were often written and performed to the Queen.
Othello is considered by many to the finest of all Shakespear's tragedies. The main reason for ‘Othello's success was that the play contained – arguably – one of the greatest villains in any play. Iago is seen to be such a fasinating character, mainly because of his apparent lack of motive for harming Othello.
Othello is a black general who marries a young woman called Desdemona and promotes the ‘bookish' Cassio above Iago. Iago then sets out, seemingly, desiring to sabotage Othello's life; telling Desdemona's father about Othello's marriage, getting Cassio drunk and into a fight and finally tricking Othello into believing that Desdemona and Cassio were ‘making the beast with the two backs'. This eventually leads to the; death of Desdemona, Othello and Iago's wife-Emilia, the mutilation and promotion of Cassio and the arrest of Iago.
Iago is a twisted character who seems to believe he is on a mission from heaven but constantly uses very hellish imagery. Iago draws you into his sinister plot yet never tells you why he constantly harms Othello; this has you thinking about the play long after it has ended. As the play develops you see Iago's ability to adapt and change his scheme to any circumstance. In the end the events take a very different turn to how Iago originally intended yet the result was much the same and Iago always seems to be in control.

Iago draws you into his plot via his soliloquies. These tell you his innermost and darkest thoughts. They give you an often disturbing insight into his reality which you soon find out to be detached from the rest of the worlds. In his soliloquies he confides in you his excessive misogynistic tendencies and how he squanders his wealth, yet others (Rodrigo) are only to happy to subsidize his lifestyle. His speeches are often conflicting as in the space of three lines he can go from cursing ‘the moor' to praising him as innocent brave and sweet. His

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inconsistency is not just restricted to his emotions for Othello, he often claims to be on a mission from the heavens while maintaining a cool and calculating aura, yet the origins of his mission can change as quickly as his mood and he inevitably becomes angry and hellish. These inconsistencies are arguably the only constants within his character and the only thing you can be certain of is that his personality will flip like a spinning coin. Yet the importance of his soliloquies is that they lead you into a false sense of security, making you believe that you know all that is going on and have the advantage over all other characters, this naivety means that each change comes as an even bigger shock as you think that you know Iago more than anyone else. In this way you have been turned into the character of Othello believing that you know Iago for exactly what he is yet he cheats you with hidden motives that leave you feeling betrayed. The structure of Iago's soliloquies – iambic pentameter, gives them a sense of rhythm which drill into your head and you find yourself predicting what he will say next which puts you into the mind set of the character much the same way as shadow walking.
Dramatic irony is when the characters on stage do not know something which you do, and so say things in innocence of the plot around them. An example of this is the way Othello acts around Iago. Othello often calls Iago good and honest immediately after Iago has done something wicked or drawn Othello even closer into his plot.

Iago is such an amazing villain as he seems to have no motive. He often draws on various qualities of Othello's character or certain unproven events yet soon after he usually brushes them aside as of no consequence.
At the time that the play ‘Othello' was written dark skinned people were emigrating from Spain this provoked much racism and the fact that Shakespeare has drawn on that is evident when reading or watching ‘Othello'. Othello is often the target of racial abuse via his enemies; because of this some characters try to subconsciously use him as a scapegoat. Blaming him for their ills and even accusing him of witchcraft. Racial differences is one of the main issues that Iago draws on as a potential motive but he only seems to use this when in company and rarely in his soliloquies. When Iago does use racially abusive terms such as ‘the Moor' in his soliloquies he seems to use this more as the most effective way of frequently insulting him rather than that being the reason for Othello invoking such powerful emotions within him. Iago instead tends to use such terms in company as a way of enticing others to hatred and justifying his emotions to them in a way that they can easily digest.

Iago's lack of justification for his actions at the end of ‘Othello' leaves you feeling empty. From the start of the play you can feel that it all leads up to a particular point where all explanations will be given and understanding will be total. Yet at this precipice of knowledge Iago remains silent. When his actions have already been detailed and all you now need to know is one question; why? And yet he does not speak, this person that was always so desperate for an audience that he spent half the play talking to himself, now at this crucial moment wont give you your only request seems so selfish. Yet maybe that's why he did it all because he always felt that he had to have total power.
That could be the reason that he made everyone do exactly what he wanted without them knowing. Perhaps the promotion of Cassio was what set him off. Possibly he always knew he could control Othello but Cassio was an unknown quantity that had to be eliminated. Then again he could have done it for any number of reasons.
That is why I wrote the final soliloquy- Iago's explanation.

In my soliloquy I have Iago detailing how he was in fact saving ‘the brave and noble Moor' yet in fact unbeknown to him he is actually ranting about his obsessively misogynistic tendencies and the fact that if you look very carefully the whole thing hints that he was in love with Othello. I have him finishing in true Iago style- the consistently inconsistent- with how he hates the Moor and is glad that he killed himself. When deciding upon what Iago should say I thought back to what he had always included in his previous soliloquies; how he hated women, his hellish language, his belief that he was on a mission from the heavens, his particular hatred for Desdemona, his conflicting emotions toward Othello and his belief that women should admit that they were only good as whores. When I combined all of this with my own theories of his motive and various other aspects of the play I came up with the soliloquy.
The homosexual aspect of my soliloquy came from linking clues that may have been meant to mean something completely different. I considered the fact that Iago has conflicting views of Othello and obviously greatly admired him and used that to explain why he hated women and that his lust for them always seemed fake just like his racial hate for Othello this would also explain his insecurities and permanent emotional confusion. Also it is widely believed that Shakespeare was bisexual therefore he may not have been shy in including it in one of his plays.
I have made Iago pleased about the deaths of Emelia and Desdemona calling his wife a traitor and Desdemona a whore who cast a spell upon Othello. At the beginning of the soliloquy Iago is distraught at Othello's death yet by the end he is glad and even more pleased that he will have no honor as he committed suicide. I hope that my soliloquy will show the audience that I think Iago is twisted beyond repair and has some deep underlying psychological faults. Also that he may have found love yet unfortunately he was fearful of what it might entail and so forced it to tear him apart. I chose my rhyming couplets by writing the penultimate line linking to how I wanted to show a different view of Othello in the final line. I then wrote my final line to rhyme with the previous and then adjusted both accordingly so that they both flowed. Although I think Iago is a twisted character I still think that he is a fantastic one you never know where he stands and he adapts so quickly to any circumstance, truly amazing.

‘Othello' is a masterpiece harnessing its own social historical context. It evolves, and although you may think you know what the ending will be, it comes in weird and wonderful ways and yet that still isn't the best part, the most important thing is how you got there. It gives you a character to love yet you start to feel ashamed of him as weak and suspicious, although at the end he redeems himself. Best of all it gives you a villain who you can hate but more so you are intrigued by. Iago fascinates you and you have a conflict of interest as you really want him to succeed just so you can find out how he will react and what he will do next.
The hero villain role is almost switched halfway through the play as Othello becomes a disappointing character just as Iago becomes all the more intriguing – you still know which one is good and which is bad yet the dark side had never been so tempting. Iago all in all is a fantastic character with unknown depths and dark mysteries. This made the soliloquy so much harder to write. I found it easy enough to physically write but I would never want anyone to add anything to the end of Othello because although it is what you think you want anything that followed would disappoint you bitterly because we all want to think that our theory was right. And although it is a burning question that you want to know more than any thing else (because you know that your theory is obviously correct) it is better that the answer died with Shakespeare himself. And hey who knows maybe he never knew why Iago did it.

Final soliloquy

Warped and so crumbled, a pain in my heart,
The brave moor once noble, his truth now ruined,
A plume on his breast, red blood shall not fade,
Yet in death he doth, vanquish her curse spell,
Once fair now crushed, in their bed of lust,
Tiss fitting for her, a warm shallow grave,
For women chained to, their place of work,
And admitting tis, their place are honest,
Unlike these devils, who seduced men,
To led them to hell, never back again,
Who corrupt the honest, mere mortal men,
To go against their, companions loyal,
Long suffering are we, a talisman or charm,
To ward off these sirens, wreakers of men,
Who beguile us turn, us into mere babes,
What chance have we? Should we turn our cheek?
No I shall not for, killed demons I have,
And would do so again, and without a flinch,
With heaven as my, judge Beelzebub death,
As harpies should be, back to realms of fire,
I save him in friendship, yet none he shows me,
Tis fitting his death, be own hand should be.
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