top-rated free essay

Othello Analysis

By anonymous4408 Oct 18, 2008 1179 Words
Williams Shakespeare’s, “Othello”, depicts tragedy through the eyes of jealousy, lust for power, and most importantly the complexity of love and relationships. This tale unfolds through a series of elegant yet, intense plot twists that inevitably leaves the entire ensemble of characters touched by the cold hands of death. “This play is the most intellectual of all Shakespeare's tragedies, despite its concern with elementary personal emotion“(Bell). Shakespeare’s tale of betrayal is truly ingenuous but upon closer examination, exposes the horrific possibilities and complexities of true emotions.

William Shakespeare's use of imagery and metaphors is significant in conveying meaning, as it helps to establish the dramatic and emotional atmosphere of the play and reinforce the main themes. “Shakespeare's Othello has provoked extensive interpretive response on how this murder is brought about. Some critics exonerate Othello of any blame, others see Iago as an honest realist, and a third camp sees Othello and Iago as sharing responsibility” (Macaulay). It is through character analysis that an insightful interpretation of the significance of all the swirling emotions involved in Othello can be examined.

The protagonist, Othello, personifies greatness and weakness in its purest form. Othello is a general in the Veniceian army but what differentiates Othello from his surroundings is that he is a Black man who is constantly referred to as Moor. Shakespeare depicts Othello as honorable, intelligent, and skilled at the art of war but lacking the social graces of upper class society. Although Othello is respected and honored on the battlefield, it is social interaction and respect that he lacks. This in turn creates a social isolation and longing for closeness and meaningful relationships, leaving Othello susceptible to Desdemona’s love and Iago‘s attacks. This lack of social understanding and misplaced trust within his social circle are what ultimately brings about the tragedy of this play.

A contributor to Othello’s rise in social class as well as his demise, was his beloved wife, Desdemona. Desdemona is the daughter of a prominent senator who wishes nothing more than for his daughter to marry into the right social class. Wed in secrecy, Othello and Desdemona’s marriage is at hazard from the beginning. Infatuated with Othello, Desdemona finds him to be exotic and through his immensely entertaining stories of his embellished world, she is won by his charm. For Othello, Desdemona represents purity, innocence’s and most importantly a connection to upper class society which Othello desperately longs to be apart of. Ironically, the society Othello desires to be accepted by, views him as nothing more then a mere guard dog; a guard dog that is black, of lower class standing and most importantly not fit to marry a lady as beloved as Desdemona. This places stress on Othello’s heart and mind and is a staging point for the antagonist, Iago to begin his attack on Othello.

Shakespeare paints the antagonist Iago as a realist and speaker of half truths. Iago’s character is not completely wrong in his view of society, it is just that he has become an extremist in his point of view that leads to a burning hatred for the world and especially Othello. Through his extreme beliefs his nature has been molded to seek power and achieve it by any means necessary. Iago is made to be a reprehensible villain but through his acts of treachery he exhibits the most poetic and polished gift of language. Iago’s conspiring behavior is not completely understood but several possible motivators are implied as reasons for his actions.

Iago’s manipulative and cunning behavior can be contributed to an accumulated effect of jealousy. Iago was overlooked by Othello and lost the promotion of lieutenant to Cassio. This is the first of many reasons that Iago truly abhors Othello. Iago feels inferior to Cassios privileged upbringing and detest his unqualified status over him. Iago feels overqualified for the job of lieutenant and can not make sense of Othello’s choice in Cassio. Another motive would appear to be the belief that Othello and Cassio had committed adultery with his wife. Although, this point is highly suspicious and more likely a fabricated fact, it gives Iago reason and confidence to act against Othello. A third possible motive for Iago’s betrayal is the difference status and power. The simple fact that Othello is a Black man with power infuriates Iago. All of these motives stem from want and envy contributing to another character possessed by jealously.

Through envy Iago despises Othello and through jealousy, Othello creates death and destruction in his path. Othello’s destruction is essentially influenced by others but primarily his death is caused by his own tainted actions of jealousy and insecurity. Othello’s air becomes poisoned by a conspiring Iago which in turn breeds jealousy into Othello’s mind and heart. This poisonous feeling turns Othello into a mad man and he indirectly causes the murder of the entire cast. Throughout Othello, constant discussion of poison is referred to by Iago, “The Moor already changes with my poison: Dangerous conceits are in their natures poisons“ (3.3.322). Shakespeare uses this metaphor of poison to appropriately define Iago’s character. Iago shares the same characteristics of poison as toxic and fatal. Iago's use of language is a primary weapon in manipulating Othello, “O, beware, my lord, of Jealousy. It is the green-eyed monster” (3.3.165). Shakespeare has the uncanny ability to compose plays full of humanities rawest of emotions. Throughout Othello, there are many themes interwoven to describe the author’s perspective of the true nature of the soul. Three themes critical to the play are doubt versus trust, monstrous imagery and the consequences of jealously. Shakespeare’s usage of the uncontrollable emotion, jealousy, ties flawlessly with the emotion of love. Because of the intense emotions that are involved, Shakespeare has made it possible for audiences to identify as well as sympathize with each character. Othello’s tragedy is not the fault of a single villain or Othello, but is the result of the ignorance and envious delusions mankind suffers from. Jealousy is an emotion that every character demonstrates in the play, but its effects vary from character to character. Iago’s jealousy leads him down a path of betrayal and treachery and for Othello it proves to be the most potent and ultimately leads to the tragic ending of the play. Shakespeare’s tragic play depict mans nature and emotions at its worst; jealousy, deceit, treachery, and murderous revenge all conceived in the names of justified rationale and love.

Word Count: 1155

Works Cited
Bell, Millicent. “Othello's Jealousy.” The Yale Review v. 85 (April 1997) p. 120-36. Willson Web. 14 June. 2007 . Macaulay Marcia. “When Chaos Is Come Again: Narrative and Narrative Analysis in Othello.” Style (DeKalb, III.) v. 39 no. 3 (Fall 2005) p. 259-76. Willson Web. 14 June. 2007 . Shakespeare, William. “Othello.” Literature: Approaches to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Ed. Robert Yanni. New York: Mcgraw-Hill, 2004. 209-219.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • othello

    ...JEALOUSY IN OTHELLO JENNIFER PUTNAM This paper was written for Dr. Brevik’s English 1102 class. Shakespeare is prominent in his use of recurring themes throughout his works, particularly those of love, death, and betrayal. All these themes are present in Othello. Most paramount, however, is jealousy. Jealousy runs the characters’ live...

    Read More
  • Othello

    ...Othello Essay B. C. Forbes, a Scottish financial journalist who founded Forbes Magazine, once said, "Jealousy... is a mental cancer." Jealousy is one of the strongest and the most uncontrollable emotions. It can alter anyone's perspective and lead them to do unspeakable actions, ones that they would never do under any other circumstances. Env...

    Read More
  • Othello Speech

    ...Othello Speech Hello, and good morning.I’m the director for a new, modern day adaptation of the Shakespearean play, Othello. Or as some may suggest should be called ”Iago“ as Iago is the central villain. This morning I would like to give you some direction regarding the character Iago and how I am going to portray him. Iago is a bitt...

    Read More
  • Othello and Greed

    ...William Shakespeare’s character, Othello, testifies to the fact that everyone, no matter their rank in society, can be made vulnerable when they are brought to questioning their sense of self. As a person matures and enters into adulthood, they take on many different types of responsibilities as a functioning part of society. Society charact...

    Read More
  • Othello-Comparative Essay.

    ...How successfully has Andrew Davies transformed William Shakespeare’s original text for a modern audience? In this essay I will explain how Andrew Davies’ film, Othello, 2001 released in 2001, is a successful transformation of William Shakespeare’s tragic play, Othello first performed in 1604. The play follows the events of the General ...

    Read More
  • Othello Through Marxism and Formalism

    ...that point of control that we so badly strive for. In Shakespeare’s tragically deceptive play, “Othello”, the symbolism and conflict throughout the play continually demonstrates Iago’s struggle to gain power. Through Iago’s miserable fail to obtain the power he so badly aspires, Shakespeare proves that the human race can never be happy...

    Read More
  • Othello Criticism

    ...good example of this is the drama Othello. In the drama Othello, Shakespeare shows how jealousy, betrayal, revenge can negatively impact people’s lives and can lead to series of tragedies in the life of a hero. At the start of act1, Roderigo was jealous of Othello’s marriage to Desdemona, and Iago promised that he will help him to get her b...

    Read More
  • Othello- Jealousy

    ...particularly those of love, death, and betrayal. Shakespeare repeats these themes to set the mood through his works. It is important for Shakespeare to be consistent with his themes, or the plays would lose their meaning and mood. All of these themes are present in Othello, but the most dominant is the theme of jealousy, which presents itself mu...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.