Mr. Alex Perez
10 February, 2011
Manhood and Honor
William Shakespeare, in his 1603 play, “Othello” shows a lot of different emotions and themes. The one that truly caught my attention was Manhood and Honor and the similarity in them from that century to ours. Between 1603 and 2011 manhood is still pretty much how much respect others have for you, and how highly you are looked at. Honor is a well known term these days due to the military service men and women, firefighters, police officers, and paramedics. However, instead of calling them honorable like back then, their referred to now as hero’s, or life savers.
Once learning about Othello’s marriage, Iago calls upon Brabantio, Desdemona’s father, hoping that he may be able to stop this or at least bid his daughters otherwise. Iago calls to him” Zounds sir, you’re robbed. For shame, put on your gown! Even now, now, very now, an old black ram is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise! Awake the snorting citizens with the bell, or else the devil will make a grandshire of you. Arise, I say!” (Shakespeare 1251) When saying this to any man you are pretty much spitting on their face and telling them they are being disrespected by their own daughter. However in this case Brabantio is senator, and makes him look even worse than any other man. In those times you had to ask for a daughters hand in marriage or either she was told who she would marry. Since she never told her father she was getting married it made Brabantio look as if his own daughter didn’t respect him, so why should anyone else.
Since Cassio is Othello’s first hand man, or lieutenant, Iago tries to break his manhood and honor by getting him drunk. Iago wants close to Othello to sabotage his marriage and believes if Cassio loses his honor, or respect, then he would become lieutenant and Othello’s right hand man. Iago breaks Cassio down by getting him drunk, but Cassio tries to recover before he leaves by saying, “Do not think, gentlemen, I am drunk. I can stand well enough, and speak well enough. Why very well then; you must not think then that I am drunk” (Shakespeare 1281). This quote in itself pretty much tells that Cassio is trying to make himself look macho but soon loses himself in the alcohol. I believe this is also used in our military today. If you miss behave or act out your rank could easily be taken from you. Even though in today’s military I highly doubt it would be taken because of a fight but would definitely be taken if you were to stab a fellow soldier, which as we know is what happened to Cassio.
Iago now tries to break down Othello with jealousy and lies. “In sleep I heard him say, “sweet Desdemona, let us be wary, let us hide our love!”And then sir would he grip and wring my hand. Cry “sweet creature” and then kiss me hard.” (Shakespeare 1304) Iago is trying to build up Othello’s jealously by feeding him little lies here and there. Also Iago plants evidence to look as if Cassio and Desdemona are having an affair. Iago is playing Cassio, Roderigo, and Othello through the entire play.
Othello’s jealousy got the best of him which is exactly what Iago wanted. Consumed by jealousy, without his honor, he has become the animal that the prejudiced characters have described him as being. However, when Cassio didn’t die and Roderigo did, Iago’s plans started to crumble. Even as Othello was telling Desdemona that he was going to kill her she still plead that he had done no wrong. She still believed that she brought him honor and manhood by respecting his wishes and commands. As any man would, when a woman was trying to say she didn’t cheat, Othello didn’t believe her and thought she was only trying to cover her whore-like ways. This made him even madder. Iago tries several times to control his wife towards the end of the play when she is telling everyone of what he did. “What are you mad? I charge you, get you home”,”Zounds, hold your peace”, “Be wise and get you home”. (Shakespeare 1342, 1343) At this point in the play all of Iago’s plans are now back firing on him and is only putting him in a worse situation. Since his manhood is being questioned as she still continues to speak, Iago decides to cease her disrespecting him and stabs her. I believe that any man would act in a manner like this one, when his wife is telling more than need be he may slap or even push her out the door and into their home or at least their car to get home. However I do believe that in those days that is how everything was handled by killing the person. As this play started off as a love story it turns into a tragedy in the end. The play shows us how the centuries have changed men for the better. It also shows that jealousy can and will get the best of you if you let it. I believe this play can be visualized in the 21st century as a typical teenage relationship, just without the killing and violence. And never forget a good name in a man and woman is the immediate jewel of their souls.
Bloom, Harold. Bloom's Notes. Broomall, PA: Chelsea House Publishers.1996. Print.
Kennedy, X.J, Gioia, Dana. Literature: Drama. United States. Longman, Pearson. 2005. Print. “Othello: Themes”. Litcharts. Web. 01/19/2011.
“When was Othello Written”. Blurtit. Web. 02/09/2011.