Othello- the Importance of War

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Othello is a man of war- it is all he has ever known and he has now proved himself a worthy soldier, which has given rise to the status he holds. His tales of battles and hardship are the determining factor in Desdemona’s initial adoration towards him. And without his heroic achievements in war, Othello remains an ‘outsider’ in the society of Venice. Therefore war essentially defines him as a character, and becomes highly important throughout the play. In both the extracts we see Othello as a man dominated by war, who acts with the approach of a soldier, all the time being manipulated by Iago in a ‘psychological’ war.

In Act one, scene three, Othello presents himself as a soldier, and acknowledges that he is used to the hardships of military life “the tyrant custom…Hath made the flinty and steel couch of war my thrice-driven bed of down”. Othello would have traditionally been an outsider in Venetian society due to his race, however his remarkable life history sets him apart and gains him respect- without his military background Othello would most likely have been considered as ‘just another’ Moor, so we can see how essential and defining war is to his character, without he would be a cast aside. By undertaking “these present wars against the Ottomites”, he places his familiar military role over that of his new found role as Desdemona’s husband. He does not seek her advice on an upheaval to Cyprus, but simply assumes that he is the commander in the relationship, as he would be on the battlefield. We also see that Othello places little importance on loyalty, but rather focuses more on military conquests, for he is in fact sent to fight his own people. From this we can see that war dominates his mind- the professional is more important than the personal. Essentially he is a mercenary, and it can be argued that he is seen as expendable by the Venetians, as a “substitute of most allowed sufficiency” is available, but is not...
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