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Othello Act 5, Scene 2 Lines #338-356

By mcpenguin2006 Oct 27, 2013 839 Words
Commentary on Othello Act 5, Scene 2 Lines #338-356
Within Act 5, Scene 2 of the Shakespearian play Othello, Lodovico tells Othello he is to lose command and Cassio will become the governor of Cyrpus instead. Subsequently, Othello is to be held prison and will await trial. It is from this point in the play that Othello protests his great service to Venice. From lines 338 to 356, Othello states his final speech before ultimately taking his own life. Here, Othello expresses his grief over what he has done feeling a strong sense of sin in his actions. His ego is still intact however as he mentions that he has done a great deed to the state despite the overshadowing for his act. Othello reaffirms his position as a figure who is simultaneously included and excluded from Venetian Society. Apparent in his final statement, he uses contradictions to explain his mental state before and after the manipulation of Iago. Another aspect revealed is the extent to which his sins have affected him and how he longs for the battles that helped him woo Desdemona’s love through his heroic stories.

Despite having done his services to the state, he reveals his foolishness as someone who existed within and outside Venetian society giving rise to a series of contradictions. In line 342, he asks others to speak of him as he truly is being, “nothing extenuate, Nor set down aught in malice.” The first contradictory sentence reveals that he does not wish for his guilt to be lessened as suggested by the diction “extenuate.” Nor does he want be considered evil which he would feel ashamed for as Iago is the real villain in the play. Othello reveals in the next line that he has “loved not wisely, but too well” indicating that he was unable to convey the same amount of affection back to Desdemona as she had done to him. Othello’s love for Desdemona reveals a sensitive part of Othello despite his military background. It was Othello’s love for Desdemona, however, that acted as a catalyst to which Iago manipulated and used to his advantage. In the next contradictory statement, Othello states that he was “not easily jealous, but, being wrought.” Othello is referring to his previous assessment of Desdemona’s relation with Cassio where he told Iago that he had nothing to fear and thus would not become jealous. However, the audience knows that this is no longer the situation as the “honest” Iago made Othello into a pawn of a greater game.

Othello comments on his how he won the affection of Desdemona enchanting her through his heroic tales. Othello mentions the “Arabian trees Their medicinal gum” and “Aleppo” which were elements in his heroic tale. He cherishes his memories of when he spoke of such places to Desdemona further emphasizing his love for her. It is evident that no medicine in the world can cure him of his agony and torture referring to the medicinal properties of the “Arabian Trees.” However, the burden of his sins become overwhelming referring to a “base Judean, threw a pearl away.” This quotation suggests that he has angered the heavens and makes a religious reference to the betrayal of sacrifice of Jesus. Similar to the betrayel of Jesus, he has betrayed Desdemona’s pure qualities and love. There is irony involved because he killed Desdemona who had the qualities of a Saint who was always willing to forgive Othello for his actions. This trait was emphasized previously in the play where Desdemona wished for the heavens to forgive Othello and send him to Purgatory rather than hell so that he may repent for his sins.

Despite Othello’s pains and cries, he briefly manages to calm himself thus regaining his dignity that gave rise to his higher state of power in Venice. This indicates that his ego is still intact and has not been completely shattered as he works the persistence reveal his innermost feelings of being an outsider. He mentions “Aleppo” which is translated as a significant staging post for trade between Europe and the East where it was said that the punishment there should a Christian strike a Turk was immediate death. Othello make this reference because he feels that he has been an outcast of Venetian society despite his title. He feel that he has been struck to death in comparison to Christian who struck a Turk. Considering the severity of the punishment, it is evident that this is not small matter, but rather a serious one with racial discrimination. While in the act of killing himself, he alludes to the metaphor of the killing of a Turk. He acknowledges that he will forever be an outsider.

In summation, Othello’s final remark has allowed him to personally reflect his actions and to reveal to the audience his remorseful feelings. While establishing the difference between one who was included and exclude in Venetian society, he makes his final act of martyrdom. The only opponent left for him to conquer becomes himself.

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