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Othello Literary Analysis

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2/12/11
Block C
British Literature
Othello Literary Analysis

Othello, Shakespeare In Shakespeare’s play Othello, Iago uses racial distinction to persuade Othello into believing there is an affair between Desdemona and Cassio. Iago feeds upon Othello’s insecurities to raise his fury. Othello's self-doubting eventually leads to downfall; his doubt within himself causes him to distrust Desdemona and her love for him. Othello uses his race as his scapegoat for his belief in being poor spoken and revolting, as he states, “My name, that was as fresh as Dian’s visage, is now begrimed and black as mine own face” (III.iii.441-43). As Othello falls deeper into his fury he is seen as regressing back to his vicious native heritage. Iago continues to feed the fire pointing out Othello’s savage actions, for example, “I have seen the cannon when it hath blown his ranks into the air and, like the devil, from his very arm puffed his own brother…”(III.iv.154-59). As the story progresses Iago pushes Othello into uncertainty and drives him mad.
Iago is a character who owns tragic flaws, and is responsible for Othello’s demise. Through the first few acts, Othello seems strong, noble and boastful, but this swiftly changes when Iago puts his plan into action. Iago’s accusations of Desdemona and Cassio’s affair affect Othello severely and brings out his insecurities. Jealousy is Othello’s major tragic flaw. Iago ultimately leads him to the decision that he will kill his once beloved Desdemona. “Ay, let her rot, and perish, and be damned to-night: For she shall not live: no, my heart is turned to stone; I strike it, and it hurts my hand.”(IV.i.65) Othello drastically changes from a character that loves and is compassionate to admitting that his heart has turned to stone and he can love no more. His distrust and gullibility overcomes his noble and caring qualities which lead to him murdering his wife, and his ultimate death by suicide. "I kissed you, ere I killed you: no way but this, killing myself, to die upon a kiss." (V.ii.359-60)
Iago’s manipulation is the cause of Othello’s personality change. Maybe the most interesting and unusual character in the tragic play is "Honest Iago”. Through exploitation and abuse, Iago is able to manipulate others to do things in a way that benefits him and moves him closer toward his goals. Iago is devious; he is skilled at judging people and their behavior and uses this to his advantage. For example, he knows Roderigo is in love with Desdemona and figures that he would do anything to have her as his own. Iago says about Roderigo, "Thus do I ever make my fool my purse." (I.iii.426) by playing on his trust, Iago is able to swindle money from Roderigo. He also thinks quickly on his feet and is able to improvise whenever something suddenly occurs. When Cassio takes Desdemona away to speak with her privately about Othello’s arrival, Iago notices that Cassio takes Desdemona’s hand as he talks to her and plots to use this to frame him so that he loses his newly gained promotion to lieutenant. “With as little a web as this I will ensnare as great a fly as Cassio,” (II.i.169). His sneakiness and shrewdness show that he is apparently the antagonist.
As the story progresses, Iago pushes Othello into uncertainty and drives him mad. Othello does first and thinks later. Even in the end, when Desdemona tries to prove she is innocent, he unwisely hushes her and denies listening to her plea. Although Othello does have an evil side and the anger to kill his innocent wife, it was all a matter of insanity on his part. Othello plays as a child in this play and thus his actions are just. Othello is simple minded in the complication of thought. Because Othello is so childlike in his actions and believes he became a victim to the cruelty of Iago. Othello was easily controlled by Iago and his wit. A child is very gullible this is what Othello became. Uninformed on all the facts, Othello made his action. His naive childlike behavior merits him to be credited as a victim to ghastly Iago.
Some men die for glory, some men fight for love, and one man lived for revenge. Iago uses racial distinction to manipulate Othello. Iago feeds upon others insecurities. He is the key to all the destruction and tragedy in the play.

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