The Process of Change in Othello

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The tragic significance of the entire play revolves around the fact that the greatness and goodness of any man, his achievements in his profession and his success can be swiftly and utterly undone; that he could sink not only from bliss to despair but from the heights of human excellence to the very baseness of our animal instincts. We are first introduced to Othello from the thoughts of Iago and Roderigo. These comments in the opening scene have a mostly racist nature and Othello is described as barbaric and a Negro – he is referred to as “the thick lips” in the opening act. He is also full of “his own pride and purposes” (Iago – Act 1, scene 1, line 12) Racist innuendoes are continued when Brabantio is awakened. Iago cruelly says: “an old black ram is tupping your white ewe” (Act 1, Scene 1, line 80-90) and tells Brabantio that his nephews will “neigh to you”. (Act 1, Scene 1, line 113) The contrast then surprises the reader in Scene 2 of the same act where Othello is seen to act very noble. He will not run and hide but will defend himself. The Moor is revealed as an honest and distinguished member of Venetian society, who not even the noble Brabantio can go against. With his calm and superior poetic speech he is depicted as a well respected military commander. Othello accepts the challenge to defend himself and with his declaration, Othello manages to prove himself. The duke in fact says: “Your son-in-law is more fair than black”. (Act 1, Scene 3 , line 287) In his declaration, Othello hints that this charm and poetic speech is what also drew Desdemona to him; “she loved me for the dangers I had passed” (Act 1, Scene 3, line 166). In fact she had told him that if he knew a friend, he should teach him this story in order to woo her. We tend to warm up to the character of Othello, especially when we see the evil in Iago’s plans and therefore tend to disregard the racist comments of the first scene. Iago turns crueller and crueller and uses the good...
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