Othello Analysis

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Shakespeare, in keeping with the conventions of a revenge tragedy, undercuts the nobility inherent in the protagonist by presenting an individual too easily made 'jealous'. G.A. Wilkes in 'The compulsive Course of 'Othello'' asserts that Othello's 'openness and innocence make him vulnerable' and through Iago's soliloquy's, Shakespeare affirm these as possible weaknesses in Othello. So the simile 'And will as tenderly be led by the nose/as asses are' and the high modality of Iago's language 'I put the Moor into a jealousy so strong/That judgement cannot cure' convey the villainy that will ultimately corrupt Othello's dignity. This insight into Iago's character, introduced a rough paradox 'I am not what I am' and the dramatic iron of his assertion in the opening scene 'Where I the Moor, I would not be Iago', foreshadow the malignant manipulation of a man with 'a free and open nature'. Yet Shakespeare extends our response to Othello's weakness by also establishing Othello's stature as a product of his military prowess. This link between a 'valiant General' and a 'noble Moor' suggests that Othello's role in a white Venetian society is limited to his experiences in the metaphorical 'tented field'. The play emphasizes this point by juxtaposing Othello's comment, Her father (Brabantio) loved me, oft invited me' with Brabantio's contemptuous dismissal of Othello as 'an abuser of the world, a practiser/of arts inhibited'. Through this juxtaposition, Shakespeare introduces us to another aspect of Othello's character which makes him susceptible to Iago's manipulation. This aspect, which is embodied in the metaphor 'My own weak merits, is based on Othello's outsider status in a white Venetian society. Initially this is evident in the harshly racist imagery of Brabantio's denunciation of Othello such as 'the sooty bosom/of such as thing as thou art' and practices of cunning hell' which evoke the reality of Othello's exclusion from a white society.
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