How does Shakespeare present disturbed characters?
Othello is a tragic hero whose jealousy is cleverly manipulated by the maleficent Iago, transforming him from a noble figure to a disturbed murderer. In keeping with the tragic genre, Shakespeare depicts a sequence of events through which bring about Othello’s decline. The playwright slowly escalates the emotional intensity of the play as Othello becomes more obsessed and less rational. The audience experience a range of emotions as the emotional escalation created is at last over.
At the beginning of the play, Othello is considered as a very respectable man and is even referred to as a moor, which shows his strong authority. In Act 1 Scene 3 however, we find Othello in a council room in Venice in front of the Duke, senators and officers with a concern about his marriage with Desdemona. In this scene, Othello is a highly respected man who has been promoted to a high office, despite the prejudice he has encountered. In the court he states that he is not a good talker when he says ‘Rude am I in my speech’; which shows that he is an honest and valued man. However he is eloquent speaking in Iambic pentameter, and is in fact a great speaker. Throughout this scene, it is discovered that Othello and Desdemona had run away together to get married. Brabantio, whom is Desdemona’s father, does not approve of this, and accuses Othello of drugging his daughter and using witchcraft on her to make her fall in love with her. Brabantio makes many crude comments such as “Against all rules of nature, and must be driven to find out practices of cunning hell” and “Or with some dram, conjured to this effect, he wrought upon her” and “To fall in love with what she feared to look on”. All of those negative and hurtful comments are the accusations that Brabantio used against Othello. He states that there is no real love there, and that Othello has surely tricked Desdemona into loving him. However Othello is restraint and remains calm and doesn’t retaliate to Brabantio’s accusations. Othello simply explains how he and Desdemona fell in love, and that what they feel for each other is true. He explained how he used to be invited round Brabantio’s and would tell him stories of his tragic, yet heroic past, and how Desdemona used to listen. He explained how Desdemona came to love him for the dangers that he had survived, and he loved her for feeling such strong emotions about him. “Would Desdemona seriously incline.” He explains how he used no witchcraft and only took the subtle hints that she made. “I saw Othello’s visage in his mind”. This shows how strong and spiritual the love is that they share, and how it is not based on sexual desires, they are simply in love with each other’s minds. Brabantio finally gives in as he is told that Othello and Desdemona are truly in love and realises that nothing he could do or say would influence their relationship. When the audience realise that Othello is true to his words, this increases their respect for him as his fundamental goodness is present. It also helps the audience to feel Othello’s emotions throughout the play, such as at the end when Othello is sorrowful as these qualities diminish.
In Act 2 Scene 3 we see how Iago is trying to persuade Cassio to have a drink, knowing that he gets drunk very easily. “But one cup! I’ll drink for you.” Cassio is very reluctant, but then decides to have a cup. When Iago sees that Cassio is drunk, he sends Roderigo, whom is in love with Desdemona, after Cassio. Suddenly Cassio re-enters, angrily pursuing Roderigo. Montano, (the Governor of Cyprus before Othello) try’s to restrain Cassio. “Come, come, you’re drunk.” Cassio is enraged and strikes Montano with his sword. Othello later enters and attempts to find out how the brawl started, he deals justly with Cassio and dismisses him as his lieutenant, “Cassio – I love thee, but never more be officer of mine.” Othello feels betrayed by Cassio; he has lost his...
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