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Othello: Cathartic Speech

By NooWill May 05, 2013 965 Words
Othello Essay

Othello’s cathartic speech comes at the end of the play, after killing Desdemona and is prior to killing himself. The play, set in the 16th century, is one of William Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies. Othello’s final speech concludes his tragic destiny of the fallen hero, one who is most noble and brave but is destroyed by the fatal flaw that consumes him. The monologue raises several key issues. Othello as the tragic hero and a man in command are highlighted, specifically by his actions post monologue and throughout the play. Shakespeare’s tragic heroes all poses the same quality; the fatal flaw, which ultimately leads to their down fall and destruction. Similarly, Othello has a quality that reflects two of his most important relationships, his trust of his ancient and later Lieutenant, and the lack of trust in his wife. Ultimately, Othello’s cleansing speech at the end of the play reflects many issues that are highlighted throughout the play. Othello as the tragic hero has his command questioned and examined as he descends into darkness. “Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate.” Othello’s plead to his audience in the monologue, is key to his remorse as the tragic hero who has fallen into darkness. As the commander that he was, able to defeat the Turkish army and defend Venice and Cyprus, he still begs to be remembered as what he is and what he has done at that moment and forever more, and not to be let free because of his heroic deeds and past as the “great Moor of Venice”. At the beginning of the play, Othello’s many epithets run along the lines of “the great Moor of Venice”, and “Noble Moor” and “Valiant Othello”. These are example to the tragic hero’s life before falling into darkness and being portrayed as the noble hero that he needs to be before falling. All these epithets define how we portray the heroic Othello as well as how the characters also portray him even as he descends into chaos, which are key to his command over the Venetian army and Senate. Similarly throughout the play, Othello as the commander, is never questioned publically, as Othello has never lost on the battlefront or off; “the war is won!” as he informs the people of Cyprus to where he takes refuge. Ultimately, Othello as a man in command and as the tragic hero are highlighted throughout the play and particularly so in his finally monologue, as one who is true and honest. The fatal flaw of the tragic hero is key in all Shakespearean tragedies, and in Othello, his fatal flaw drives him into chaos and almost into insanity. “Of one not easily jealous, but, being wrought, Perplex’d in the extreme;” is Othello’s final words on his fatal flaw; jealousy. Shakespearean tragic heroes all are destroyed by their fatal flaw; Othello in which kills himself out of the sheer misery and disbelief of killing out jealousy against his wife and his ally. Moreover, Othello is warned not to become jealous; “Beware the green-eyed monster, which doth mock the meat it feeds on” is the foreshadowing warning which Iago gives Othello, manipulating his decisions throughout the play. The foreshadowing warning is key as it blurs Iago’s stance on the whole situation in Othello’s point of view, but really Iago is trying to plant the idea of jealousy into Othello’s mind, kick-starting a weakness that Othello has. Ultimately, the tragic hero’s fatal flaw is important in Othello as it is in any other Shakespearean tragedy as it defines the tragic heroes fall from grace.

Othello’s judgement on trust is greatly tested throughout the play on two main characters, his wife Desdemona and his Lieutenant/Ancient Iago. His judgement of trusting is effectively the reason of his jealousy and his fall from grace. His trust in Iago in his final monologue expresses Othello’s unapplauding defeat by the cunning Venetian man; “Where a manlignant and turban’d turk beak a Venetian and traduced the state”. It is only when Iago’s plans against Othello are revielled that Othello sees the wrong in his ways and the trust he placed in the most mistrusting man. The innocent Othello at the start of the play is caught speaking of his Ancient is such positive ways;” My ancient; a man he is of honesty and trust”. Othello’s innocence to Iago gives hint to the audience of the effect that Iago’s plan has on Othello, backstabbing him to place himself only at the top. Additionally, Othello’s mistrust in his wife, Desdemona comes from his trust in Iago who he claims to be honest and trustworthy. Iago’s initial sole bargaining point is that Desdemona deceived her father to marry Othello, so why should Othello trust her not to deceive him. All though Iago gives no evidence that Desdemona has done wrong against Othello, he manipulates Othello’s mind to see one thing differently to how everyone else sees it. He moulds Othello’s deception into believing that all innocent things that Desdemona does, are actually attacks against Othello himself personally. Ultimately, it is Othello’s judgement of trust that is able to deceive his mind and play on his fatal flaw to bring him to a tragic fall. In conclusion, Othello’s final monologue is the ultimate summary of the factors that caused Othello’s fall from grace. His fait of being the tragic hero as a man of command, by means of his noble and honest self, that is tampered with and manipulated to create an selfish and angry man. His fatal flaw of jealousy and its warning from Iago again is summeried by Othello, realising all to late that he had been tricked, and finally his judgement of trust in his Lieutenant and his mistrust in his wife.

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