How is language used to persuade the viewer in Act 3 Scene 3 of Othello?
This scene is the most important within Shakespeare’s “Othello,” as it Iago’s plan finally becomes fully known, and the effect that it has upon Othello himself begins to suggest that he is not the “noble savage,” that has been thus far portrayed. Language is used to both hint at further developments within the plot and also to expand upon characters’ personalities. This essay shall examine in turn how both of these aspects are conveyed through the use of language.
Prophetically persuasive language is employed extensively throughout the entire scene, by all of the characters. Cassio exclaims at the opening of the scene “Whatever shall become of Michael Cassio?,” a phrase which suggests that some fate shall before him, as even he himself is unsure of his destiny or future. The ambiguity of the question allows the audience to consider him as a character, and is thus persuaded to consider his role within the play, and how he shall shape the plot. Only a few lines later, Desdemona similarly provokes the audience into questioning her fate, as she emphatically exclaims that “thy (Cassio’s) suitor shall rather die than give they cause away.” Such a bold statement immediately exposes her as vulnerable and sets her up for a fall, as rarely within Shakespeare’s plays is arrogance or certainty remained unchecked, for example Tybalt or King Lear. The audience’s suspicions are later confirmed by Iago’s disconcerting statement of “Long live she so; and long live you to think so,” when he is questioned upon his views of Desdemona’s honesty. Such a statement can only lead the audience to think that some mishap shall befall both Othello and Desdemona, and an idea such as this planted so early on re-enforces the tragic theme of the play as a whole. Perhaps the most significant example of persuasive language being used to hint at future occurrences within the play is when Emilia discovers Desdemona’s...
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