Othello Is a Play About the Desperate Need for Certainty

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Othello is a play about the desperate need for certainty
The theme of certainty pervades the play from the opening scence, and as it progresses, the quest for certainty becomes more desperate and frantic; not only within the minds and actions of the characters, but also within the audience as we become desperate to know and understand the outcome of Iago’s malicous plan.

Shakespeare introduces the protaginist, Othello, to the audience through the malicious and predujiced tongues of Iago, Roderigo and Brabantio. Iago condemns Othello for favouritism and shows obscenley to Brabantio that Othello is an ‘old black ram’, the ‘devil’, a ‘barbary horse’ copulating with his daughter. Rodergio too describes him as a ‘lascivious moor’ and ‘an extravagent and wheeling stranger.’ This causes Brabantio to feel certian that Othello, repulsive in his blackness, must have seduced Desdemona by withcraft, magic spells or drugs. The picture echoes aspects of medevil and Elizabethan traditions about the devilish, cruel and lustful nature of moors, and Brabantio would most certainly rather believe these acceptable truths as opposed to reality- his ‘pure’ and virginal daughter is partaking in a sordid affair.

Othello’s own desperate plea for certainty is also evident from the offset. Although he refuses to hide from Branbantio and denounce his frabrications, he suggests that Desdemona should testify freely how their love came about. Some may argue that Othello holds a number of insecurities about himself and this is a prime example of him desperatly needing Desdemona to justify her reasoning for marrying him. After all, he displays an incredible vulnaribilty, ‘a free and open nature, that thinks men honest that but seem to be so.’ Iago works on these traits and his pretended disapproval of the relations between Cassio and Desdemona rouses Othello’s curiosity, thence his insistance that he be told, and finally his fear that Iago’s information, got in his duty as an honest man,...
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