The Issue of Time in Othello

Topics: Othello, Iago, Michael Cassio Pages: 4 (1050 words) Published: September 2, 2006
Since the middle of the 19th century, many critics have analysed the double time scheme in Othello. This time scheme involves proceedings happening in both short and long time.

There is no doubt that there are discrepancies in the way time is presented within the play.

Shakespeare uses short time to heighten the intensity of the drama and to give us an impression of the reckless nature of the tragedy. Short time is basically just the action of the play taken literally.

To add plausibility to his play Shakespeare uses a longer time to establish and reinforce the idea that a sufficient period, of time has elapsed during which the supposed affair between Desdemona and Cassio could have taken place and for Iago to plant Othello with his deceptive lies so Othello's jealousy evolves creating the tragedy itself.

That is… It appears that the dissolution of Othello's mind and marriage occurs at a rapid velocity. In addition, Iago himself realises that he must move promptly if his plots are to remain veiled, but at the same time there are references suggesting that time is moving slower than the action suggests. Let us look at long time a little closer we will come back to short time shortly… Can anyone think of some examples of where the time mentioned does not match the action in Othello, examples time contradicting itself? of long time?...

Here are a few overt examples:

In act 3 scene 3 Iago describes Cassio's lustful dream which we are told occurred lately when the ensign shared the lieutenants bed.

In act 3 scene 4 Bianca complains that Cassio has stayed away from her a week and in act 5 scene 2 Othello himself says he believes Desdemona has actually committed adultery with Cassio ‘a thousand times'

To me it also seems exceedingly unlikely that Lodovico would be sent from Venice to install Cassio as governor, within just a week of Othello's arrival in Cyprus.

Shakespeare's intended purpose for long time in Othello was to make Othello's...
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