Othello Question notes and answers

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Othello Monologue/ Soliloquy Study

B. Mitic

Act II Response

Shakespeare hints at jealousy from the very first act of the play, with Iago confessing his jealousy at Michael Cassio’s recent promotion to lieutenant. He asserts his opinion that Cassio is of less experience than him, with phrases such as “never set a squadron in the field” and “mere prattle without practice”. The latter phrase contains violent alliteration with the ‘p’ sound, giving the audience an insight into Iago’s frustration anger and jealousy at the fact that he was not promoted; one can almost imagine him spitting the words out in rage. These quotes may also give the reader an insight into Iago’s past, showing on the other hand that he had experience ‘in the field’ of battle, and that he had, judging by his evident disappointment at lack of promotion, served for quite a long time at Othello’s side. This is also shown when he states “Othello’s eyes had seen the proof at Rhodes”. This is very much Iago's scene, and we see the versatility of his linguistic gifts most clearly throughout: where Othello's poetry serves to discover beauty and wonder in the world, Iago's language is fundamentally dishonest, allowing him to seem whatever serves his purpose. while taking his new friends into his confidence about Casio's "vice"; he protests that he would rather have his tongue cut from his mouth than "it should do offence to Michael Cassio", and suggests that Cassio's conduct must have been provoked by "some strange indignity" from "him that fled". Othello sees this as covering up inexcusable violence and demotes Cassio, who believes nevertheless that he has "well approved" (that is, proved) Iago's friendship. Shakespeare adds another twist in the plot, which draws the audience in to explore the full intentions of Iago's plan. In his remarks upon “reputation”, Iago comes as close as he ever does to revealing his true opinions: the notion of deserved reputation or integrity does not enter into his view, which is that reputation bears little relation to merit in many cases. Shakespeare releases pieces of information that may change the audiences perspective on lago, whether he gets caught saying to much or indefinitely follows through with his initial plan. The informality of Iago's prose in praising English drinking is explained by the situation; but in consoling Cassio, as in his conversation at the start of the scene, Iago's informal prose suggests intimacy and friendship. He does not need to make this effort with Roderigo, as he is able, for once, to show his dupe some return on his expenditure: he has seen his "rival", Cassio, "cashiered" in exchange for some "small hurt", and Rodrigo is sent away unceremoniously. Shakespeare creates an image for each character, and with certain language choices he raises or downgrades a character. The continuous lines of lago that seem to be successful initiates irritation within the audience.

Act III Response

Othello’s speech of Act III, Scene iii, represents the dramatic and psychological tipping point of the play. Up until this point he is characterized as a sturdy, stentorian nobleman, brave warrior, and devoted husband, from here we witness Othello’s murderous intent build and his personality disintegrate. Shakespeare use of rhetoric, reveals some of Othello's most private, powerful anxieties, his vanities as a private man and public figure. All of these coalesce to create a foundation of credulity for Desdemona’s betrayal, pointing the way forward to his ultimate undoing. Many of the play’s core motifs, recurring ideas, concepts, images and figurations, are furthered in this speech, and open the way for subsequent events. Shakespeare use of irony influences the audiences interpretation of several characters, in contrast to what is really happening in the play. For example: Othello's single true soliloquy opens with the most ironic of statements, that is, his reconciliation of Iago’s...
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