Othello: Victim of Vice

Topics: Othello, Virtue, Iago Pages: 8 (2113 words) Published: April 27, 2014
Othello: Victim of Vice

Depicted throughout the 1995 movie Othello, which is directed by Oliver Parker, although originally a play written by William Shakespeare, is a tragedy that takes place in Venice about a strong Moor solider who eventually suffers from a downfall when he is blinded by trustworthiness and pride. Even though Othello possesses various bad qualities, which portray him as weak, his good qualities such as leadership and patience depict him as a man of much greatness. His virtues augment his position as a leader, but especially serve as a contrast to his vices. In order to fully understand the character of Othello, played by Laurence Fishburne, it must be recognized that he is a tragic hero who portrays both positive and negative characteristics. In the beginning of the movie, Othello is married to the beautiful Desdemona, played by the actress Irène Jacob, whom he was sincerely in love with. Senator Brabantio, played by Pierre Vaneck, whose younger daughter is Desdemona, claims that Othello must have put a spell on Desdemona in order for her to fall in love with him. In this time, interracial marriage was not fully accepted, causing the marriage of Desdemona and Othello to be frowned upon because he was not only black, but also a Moor of Venice. As the story line progresses, Iago, played by the actor Kenneth Branagh, conceives an evil plot to tear the marriage of Desdemona and Othello apart, because he was in love with Desdemona while Othello had stolen her heart. Othello gives Michael Cassio, played by Nathaniel Parker, a position in the army that Iago believes he himself deserves, which leads Iago to take action in the evil plan against Othello. Iago convinces Othello that Desdemona has become unfaithful to him, causing him to turn against his own wife. He literally becomes mad, eventually leading him to his own demise. In turn, Iago plays a big factor in the downfall of Othello, using his ability to understand various people while recognizing their motives and weaknesses. It is seen throughout the play that Iago uses this skill to his advantage, manipulating people and their self-image. Othello has multiple virtues such as leadership and patience; but he exhibits several characteristics including trustworthiness and pride that eventually lead to his downfall.

Although Othello posses many bad qualities, he also displays good qualities, one of them being leadership. Since Othello is part of the Venetian military, he is a strong leader, being self-assured in his overall ability to take military matters into his own hands. Othello also possesses his leadership in the way he has control of power over any situation and self- awareness of what a great warrior he is. One example of Othello displaying his leadership quality is when Brabantio and two large groups of armed men confront him, accusing Othello of stealing his young daughter and therefore ordering the armed men to take Othello as a prisoner. Once this order is heard, swords begin to be drawn, hinting that a brawl will begin. At this, Othello claims, "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" (1.2.80-3). This scene portrays that because of Othello’s leadership qualities and past military experience, he knows when it is the proper time to either fight or hold fire. Othello is not the only one that recognizes his strong sense of leadership and control. Although Iago despises Othello, there are multiple incidents throughout the play in which he recognizes what an experienced leader he is. When telling the story of how he was passed over for lieutenant, Iago tells that on his behalf, three dominant men came to Othello but he made up military experience excuses in order to give the promotion to Cassio instead of Iago himself. Although Iago believes this, once hearing Brabantio declare that he will hunt down Othello, Iago states that Venice does not have a stronger...
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