Othello Has Been Described as ‘Fatally Self-Centered’ and ‘Lacking in Self-Knowledge’.

Topics: Othello, William Shakespeare, Iago Pages: 4 (1397 words) Published: April 18, 2013
Othello has been described as ‘fatally self-centered’ and ‘lacking in self-knowledge’. Evaluate Shakespeare’s presentation of Othello in view of this.

There have been two traditional views about Shakespeare’s presentation of Othello’s character. One of those is that Othello has been described as ‘fatally self- centered’ and ‘lacking in self knowledge’. According to Collins dictionary, self-centered describes someone who is only concerned with their own wants and needs and never thinks about other people and a lack in self knowledge is a lack in knowledge of one's own character. The question is, are these qualities related to Othello’s character? At the beginning of the play, Othello is portrayed as a cultural and racial outsider in Venice, his skill as a soldier and leader is, nevertheless, valuable and necessary to the state. The Duke and Senators are choosing the best warrior to defend their country: ‘Valiant Othello, we must straight employ you/ Against the general enemy Ottoman.’ That makes Othello gain the power and confidence from his services in front of the state. When Brabantio, Desdemona’s father, comes with his people to fight Othello on the grounds of witch crafting his daughter, ‘the noble Moor’ reacts very calmly: "Hold your hands, both of you of my inclining and the rest./Were it my cue to fight, I should have known it without a prompter". He is in total control of the situation which shows self-awareness of his value. Another view of Othello, most famously expressed in the work of T.S. Elliot and F.R. Leavis, suggests that he is a vain egoist who deserves his fate: a man so in love with his self-image that he is incapable of loving Desdemona except as the projection of his own ideal. Othello didn’t really know her before they got married, he fell in love with her because she admired him (“She loved me for the dangers I had pass'd, /And I loved her that she did pity them.”). An author D.A. Traversi mentions in his essay that “his (Othello’s)...
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