Othello, Shakespeare’s’ Aristotelian tragedy, plays upon a twofold focus to portray the demise of the general to ‘martyrdom’. Initially, the responder is drawn upon the manipulative power of Iago as he exposes not only the fragility of Othello, but also Roderigo, Cassio, Emilia and Desdemona. Then as the play progresses, Othello’s trust in Iago and ultimately himself is questioned almost to the point of gullibility. Shakespeare relies upon on dramatic structure, motifs and manner to convey the deception of Othello. Ultimately it his exploration of binary opposition in an isolated society (Cyprus), vulnerable to devices of villainy, that allows him to conform to the Aristotelian manifesto. Iago’s orchestrating power over Othello exposes the fragility that engulfs Othello’s mind whilst undermining the trust Othello places in this villain. Shakespeare capitalizes on Iago’s cryptic manner of speaking exemplified by the binary oppositions “an old black ram is tupping your white ewe” and “I am not what I am” to highlight his source of power, deception. The binary oppositions such as black/white, honest/dishonest, light/dark play as underlying notion to exaggerate Othello’s visible and character difference. Deception is evident when Iago notes “she did deceive her father marrying you” placed in an elliptical style. Iago’s insinuations about Desdemona have taken Othello, in a mere 100 lines from belief in his conjugal happiness to belief in his abandonment. These initial feelings of abandonment cascade to eventuate in the general’s downfall as he murders Desdemona. Othello’s imagery finds Desdemona to be a mere “creature” of “appetite” and imagines himself as a “toad” in a “dungeon”. The recurring motifs of animals and militarism with “dungeon” imparts upon the theme of the incompatibility of military heroism and love. This theme is pursued further as Othello cries out "Arise, black vengeance, from the hollow cell!” Othello uses images of darkness in...
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