Othello Essay

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Choose a play in which a character is seen to change significantly over the course of the play. Explain the change and show to what extent you find it credible.

Shakespeare's 'Othello' is a tragedy based around the Moor Othello - who is cruelly manipulated by his ensign Iago from a noble general into a murderous husband. The themes of this play include love, jealousy and evil. This essay will examine how the man Othello changes significantly throughout the play and how credible his change is to the audience.

At the beginning of the play, Othello is regarded as a noble and kind general, through Shakespeare's effective characterisation. Othello's military skill and respect is established as the Duke greets him by saying ' Valiant Othello, we must straight employ you/Against the general enemy Ottoman.' The repeated references to him as 'valiant' highlights his position and status within the army as a brave man, as well as how much the powerful Duke respects him. It gives us an insight into what a good a leader Othello is and makes us question what such a strong, commanding leader's flaw might be. Shakespeare's solid characterisation of Othello in Act One sets him up for his downfall throughout the rest of the play. This therefore make's his change more credible, as we know what his personality was like before Iago's manipulation takes hold.

Othello's transformation from noble general to murderous husband is portrayed by Shakespeare's use of dialogue and the symbolism of the handkerchief, in Act Three, Scene Three. Iago has persuaded Othello that Desdemona is in love with Cassio (a soldier, recently appointed as Othello’s second in command), using the handkerchief as proof of her adultery. Once Othello sees Cassio with the handkerchief, he vows 'let her rot and perish, and be damned tonight,/for she shall not live. No, my heart is turned to stone'. Since Othello gave the handkerchief to Desdemona as a first gift, the handkerchief functions as a token of...
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