Othello Essay, Appearance vs Reality

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Throughout history there has been a general understanding that appearances can be deceiving. A person may go through life without anyone understanding the true reality of their character. William Shakespeare, one of the greatest writers of all time, understood the relationship between appearance and reality and often gave characters two sides to their personality. One of the most fundamental questions in philosophy is the one of appearance vs. reality. We find ourselves asking the question of what is genuinely “real,” and what is viewed merely as just an “appearance,” and not real? It becomes difficult when we assume there is a difference in the two to determine which is which. Generally, what we label as “real” is regarded as external and eternal. What we refer to as just an appearance is regarded as temporary and internal. Many early as well as modern day authors use the theme of appearance vs. reality to portray a character in a certain way. In Shakespeare’s play ‘Othello’ the theme of appearance versus reality emerges in the play as Iago who is manipulating appearances works to deceive Othello who has difficulty distinguishing between what seems to be true and what really is true. The tragic plot of Othello hinges on the ability of the villain, Iago, to mislead other characters, particularly Roderigo and Othello by encouraging them to misinterpret what they see. Othello is susceptible to Iagos ploys because he himself is so honest and straight forward. In this play Shakespeare plays with the idea of unreliable reality in a number of ways. They language of the play, which time and again refers to dreams, trances, and vision, constantly highlight the way in which what seems to be real may actually be fake. In addition Shakespeare extends the theme of appearance vs reality to include the art of playwriting and acting. As he develops his plot against Othello, Iago creates scenes within scenes. He sets up encounters between two characters and putting a third in...
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