OTHELLO COMMENTARY ACT 5
Act 5, Scene 2 (lines 334-352)
Act 5 Scene 2 is the last speech made by the eloquent Othello in this tragedy, taking place on the secluded island of Cyprus, a world apart from Venice and the rest of the world. It occurs in the last scene of the play where Othello has recently smothered his wife with the believe that she had been unfaithful to their marriage and later been made aware it had all been a plot of manipulation at the blame of Iago, the man he had trusted and sought advice from. The main goal behind this speech is to make sure his spectators are left with a dignified view of him, making it clear he is intending on the end of his life to follow shortly. Othello seems obsessed with, not only love, perhaps the main and obvious theme of this speech and the whole play, but also his reputation and the name he has worked so hard to make for himself.
I could be argued that love is the main subject of this tragedy. It begins with the winning of consent of Desdemona’s father, fueled by the great and passionate love the couple feel for each other, and ends in it being the cause for Othello’s madness, jealousy and later lethal act. During this speech, line 340 demonstrates Othello making his strong love for his late wife continuously obvious to his audiences with “of one that loved not wisely, but too well”, referring to himself having been bewitched by love, and later controlled uniquely by the apparently jealously with which it came. He claims to have “thrown a pearl away” (line 342) using the imagery of a pearl as a representation of Desdemona and her perfection, beauty and innocence, a common motif of the play. Othello, after having committed an act he would consider deserving of torture as he earlier expresses in lines 277-8, “Roast me in sulphur! Wash me in steep-down gulfs of liquid fire!” is remorseful and repeatedly expresses the sorrow he has for the true and love which he did “too well”, which he has now lost...
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