top-rated free essay

Psychoanalytical Perspective: Othello

By ndakv5 Nov 19, 2011 787 Words
Psychoanalytical Perspective
Karen Driver
South University Online
Compositions 2
October 13, 2011

In order to use psychoanalytical perspective to analyze a play the reader must first understand what it means. “Psychoanalytical interpretations aim to reveal the influence of the subconscious in the text’s plot, setting, conflict, symbols, point of view, language, and character development”(South University Online, 2010, para. 3). Using this style to analyze the play, the reader can focus on certain areas of conflict in the play. One example of this is the belief that Desdemona has been cheating on Othello with Cassio. Although the reader knows this is not the case, Iago wants Othello to believe it to be true. Another thing that can be examined is the significance of Desdemona’s handkerchief. There is a definite meaning for this item, and for that reason it is important to examine its use in the play. Finally the reader is lead to look at the overall attitude of Iago throughout the play. Taking all things into account; the deception on Iago’s part regarding Desdemona’s infidelity, Desdemona’s handkerchief as well as Iago’s attitude throughout the play, it is easy to see how psychoanalytical perspective is an important way for the reader to look at the play.

Deception is a key factor in Iagos’ plan. Iago is able to make Othello believe that Desdemona is cheating on him. He starts a plan in motion that is not only untrue, but also spiteful. Iago takes the trust that Othello has bestowed upon him, and completely twists everything in a way to benefit himself. “Or to be naked with her friend in bed An hour or more, not meaning any harm?” (Shakespeare, 2011, 4.1) Iago tries to make Othello believe that Desdemona is having an inappropriate relationship with Cassio. Iago takes the time to set things up to help strengthen his case in this respect. He has his girlfriend take Desdemona’s handkerchief and make a new one that is exactly the same and has it planted in Cassio’s room for them to find at another time “I will in Cassio’s lodging lose this napkin, And let him find it”(Shakespeare, 2011, 3.2). In the beginning of the play Iago takes great care to make Othello jealous. It appears that Iago has succeeded in this task.

Using psychoanalytical perspective the reader can determine the significance of the handkerchief that Othello has given to Desdemona. This one item was given to her before they married, and she should never be without. Iago arranges for it to be stolen in order for it to be placed in Cassio’s room “What handkerchief? Why, that the Moor first gave to Desdemona; That which so often you did bid me steal” (Shakespeare,2011,3.3). This is something that is very recognizable to Othello as belonging to his wife. When he discovers it has been found in Cassio’s room, what is he to believe other than that Iago is telling him the truth? This is a one of a kind item that only Desdemona has. Any other handkerchief would not be as recognizable. Once the reader learns the importance of the handkerchief they are able to see how Iagos’ attitude also affects the other characters.

Throughout the entire play Iago has an attitude of revenge. He is upset that Othello did not choose him to be in charge. For this he creates a plan to make Othello miserable, and jealous “I hate the Moor: my cause is hearted; thine hath no less reason” (Shakespeare, 2011, act 1). Iago does everything in his power to make Othello absolutely miserable. He leads Othello to believe his wife is unfaithful to him to the extent that at the end of the play Othello kills his wife. Not only does he kill his wife in a jealous rage, once he learns the truth he kills himself as well. If not for Iagos’ plan Othello would have had no reason to be jealous and kill his wife. Shakespeare leads the reader to view the play in many different ways. The attitude of Iago throughout this particular play leads the reader to view him as the devious, evil character. The use of the handkerchief throughout the play is genius. To take something that would normally have little meaning and make it pivotal is impressive. Psychoanalytical perspective is a definitely a great way to view this particular play.

Shakespeare, W. (2005). Othello [electronic version]. Retrieved from the William Shakespeare SiteMap: South University Online. (2010). ENG1002: Composition/literature: Week 3: Psychoanalytic ways of reading The Awakening. Retrieved from

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • othello

    ...Towards the ends of Othello both Emilia and Desdemona are confirmed as tragic heroines. Throughout the play, Emilia is beaten down by Iago, as a result of the gender inequality of the time and her low status as a woman. In the last scene though, she finally breaks through this and finds her voice and stands up to patriarchal domination, whic...

    Read More
  • Othello essay

    ...tragedy Othello is about a Moorish general in the service of Venice who is lured into murderous, self-destructive jealousy by a scheming subordinate. Andrew Davies's modern retelling is set in New Scotland Yard and has all the Bard's wit, romance, pity, and terror -- and then some. Davies is the screenwriting sensation behind a fascinating mi...

    Read More
  • changing perspectives on Othello

    ...Depending on cultural differences and upbringing a text will have different impacts on the audience. Like any great piece of literature, William Shakespeare’s plays deal with timeless concerns that have the ability to be adapted and presented to remain relevant for modern audiences. Shakespeare’s Othello is a Jacobean play written in a time ...

    Read More
  • othello

    ...‘O, beware, my lord, of jealousy. It is the green-eyed monster." (Act3.3) Describe the changes that Othello undergoes as Iago succeeds in arousing his jealousy.' From Act One to Act Three of ‘Othello', we witness the course of Othello's transformation from the beginning of the story to Iago's success in arousing his jealousy. ...

    Read More
  • Othello

    ...English Literature The focus of the play Othello is not so much Othello’s flaws and weaknesses but more Iago’s villainy. A thorough analysis of the play Othello tends to reveal that the focus of the play is actually about Othello’s flaws and weaknesses rather than Iago’s villainy. This conclusion has been reached due to the fact t...

    Read More
  • Othello

    ... Iago’s exploitation of elements such as symbolism and repetition to execute his plan, influence Othello in his speech and emotions. Iago uses symbolism throughout the play in order to suggest that Desdemona is having an affair. Furthermore, the “ancient” repeats specific words that impact Othello’s sense of hearing and vision to a...

    Read More
  • Othello

    ...quote, Iago is trying to convince Othello that Desdemona is cheating on him with Cassio. In the story, Othello is going to have a lot of emotion in the way of his reasoning and will have a hard time believing the truth. Shakespeare created the character of Othello as a warning for people to use their mind rather than their heart to make decision...

    Read More
  • Othello

    ...William Shakespeare's play Othello, written in 1603, is set in Venice and follows the 'valiant' general Othello who is manipulated by Iago into his own downfall; being the murder of his wife then suicide. The play explores some of the deepest characteristics of human experience, including moral decay, emotional suffering and strong moral acts. T...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.