Is it essential to the development of the play’s tragic situation that Othello and Cassio are soldiers. How far do you agree with this statement: in your answer you should:* 1. Discuss character’s and their motives, as well as Shakespeare’s handeling of the narrative development and setting in the play.* 2. Give your own response to the critical view expressed, weighing how far you can agree with it and why.* 3.
Show an understanding of Elizabethan attitudes to 1.gender, 2. honour, and 3.status, as well as an awareness of Shakespearian Tradegy.
Othello is a play about the tragic fall of the Great Othello. This of course would not be possible unless Othello was conveyed as a most powerful and significant figure in the Play. As the foremost in the state of Venice and the new Govenor-General of Cyprus, Othello is clearly a general in rank. Therefore they way people behave infront of him, convey his importance.Being an important officer in the Army meant that Othello must posess all the virtues for a general prescribed by Renaissance military treatises. He is of noble birth, he is self controlled, he is religios, he has the respect of his men and he demonstrates the most advanced military knowledge. He can speak well, to a court for example, and chooses Cassio over Iago, as he feels that Cassio will be better respected by the men as he is more acceptabel, this of course presents the audience with the basis for which Iago can place his deep resentment on as he feels that ~Othello chose Cassio, unwisely as all he does is ‘QUOTE ABOUT COUNTER CASTER’.Therefore the fact that Othello is a high ranking member of the arny contributes to the image of Othello as a tragic hero, as he is magnified and ennobled, (ACT ! SCENE ï¿½ IDENTIFIES HIMSELF WITH THE GREAT ONES OF THE WORLD).
But at the same time Othello is not arrogant or treat those below him as inferior beings.The fact that Othello is a soldier also means that he will unvariably view the world in the same frame of mind that he enters a battle. Thid is frequently demonstared in the fact that his speaches are full of epithets of war (QUOTE AND EXAMPLE). We must remember that Othello has been a soldier since he was seven years old and therefore it is uneveitable that he will tink like a man going into battle and is not familiar with other peoples emotions and way of thinking.
. Therefore though he loves Desdemona pasionately, he will hate passionately, too and it seems that there is no middle ground . Othello sees the world in extremes, therefore when faced with the prospect of Desdemona being an adulteress, violence and force overcome him, and therefore feels that he must kill her. Therefore Othello can any see Desdemona as either an dirty whore or a Godess.The fact that they are in Cyprus maknig Othello, the most senior member on the Island would contribute to his sense of power and almost invurnerability, and therefore he is highly aware of this high position he has and it overwhelms him into thinking that he can take drastic measures without severe conseuqences. And at the ned this builds up the desperatness of his situation ,as he was supposed to be the man in controll of the whole island and yet, he can’t even control his own jealous, and lets it lead him to murder.The change in setting between Venice and Cyprus is important in conveying the vhange in Othello and Iago.
Venice is associate with all things cultutred and sophisticated. Therefore for Othello to have a high position in the society of Venice, is a great achievement. But when Othello moves to Cyprus, Othello is in an unfamiliare envirnoment, isolated from the ordered world he is used to, passion, violence and jealous are unleasesd to dramatic effect. There is the storm on the way to Cyprus reflecting the fear and violence that will greet Othello, once in Cyprus. The little island of Cyprus is claustrophobic, and the plot centres on few characters and the same main theme. The war with the Turks before reaching Cyprus is yet futher indication of the malevent evil waiting to happen in Cyprus.The fact that Othello is a man of high power, with thousands of men under him (not literally) means that he is a person that should be in control nd infact this feeling of ‘control’ is a theme through his speashes, (QUOTE) and the feeling that he may not dries him wild (ACT ï¿½ SCENE ï¿½ 400 – PASSIOn, DEATH and DAMNATION O!)Shakespear make it clear in the firt act of the play that Othello is respected by many people even though he is balck, whoch in those times was a great disadvantage as people were mostly racist, with such remarks as ; ‘Here comes Brabantio and the valient moor A1S3 47, and the Duke of Venice calls him ‘Valient Othelolo’ and trsut in his hand the ‘general enemy Ottoman’. Therefore not only d othey respect him but by being a military leader ,we can see the power and importance he presents at the importantnessa and criticness of the task given to him to command.
Also of course, if Othello had not been a great general he could not have won his case against Brabanio ,or even had a chance or being able to put his case forward. But even futher back, Desdemona might not have wanted to amrry him, because he would no longer be interested in his stories of even ‘devoue up my discourse – line 149 Act 1 Scene3). QUOTE MORE ON HOW DES SAW HIM.Othello using th einvasion of Cyprse (CHECK) as a distraction in which he can enlope with Desdemona, and therefore if this had not occired the fact that they were intending to marry might have come out before they were able to find a chance to escape together.To Othello, war is a glorius and dignifies affair; (QUOTE FAREWELLETC) Thus when thinks that Desdemona has been unfaithful he feels that he can no longer enjoy like, and conveys this by admitting that the joy of battle, which to him is everything, he will never again be abel to enjoy partly also due to the fact that he feels that Desdemona has disgraced him, therefore he cannot ‘LEAD MEN’ … as he need to be respected and admired .
Therefore is not only important to him in terms of their relationship, she also affects the way he feels about battle as she compliments the image of Iago as a senior and respected man, and therefore with her betrayal, war which is his life, is deeply affect too. From this it is clearly evident that othello attaches his honour to the way he views Desdemona. In Elizabethan times honour was extremely important. In actual fact the basic characteristics of the nobility, like those of the poor, were ferocity and childishness and lack of self control, all to retain ones honour, therefore if Othello really had been cheated on then the Elizabethans would see it fit that he take some decisive action to maintain his dignity.QUOTE FROM WHEN THEY ARE WAITING FOR HIM TO BOARDThe fact tha Othelo could almost be two different people when comparing him form the beginning of the play and him at the end, as his first person displays great dignity and self control; PUTUP YOUr SWORDS OR THEY WILL RUST.ETC IE MORE. Othello has confidence in himsel and in his ability to make descions, he is not provoked by other’s hysteria, e.
g Brabantio’s wild condemnnations of him as a Witch, rather though othello turns into this raving, fanatic ma who will not see the truth as he is blinded by his oen preconceived idesa. This morph of Othello from a ANOTHER WORD FOR DIGNIFIED into a SOMETHINg, is not only clear to the audience but alos to the confused characters in the paly (LODVICO; SAY IS THIS THE NICE MAN I KNOW; WHEN OTHELLO SLAPS DES).Othello is too easily fooled by Iago’s web odf deceit, probably because n the battlefield, Othello has to trut his men, and Iago being his ‘ancient’ a sort of right hand man, and Iago’s reputaiton for honesty, it makes it hard for him to throw Iago’s ideas away as rubbish.Shakespeare keeps the tension and suspense going throughout the whole paly though it seems only to hinge on Othello’s view of Desdemona, thus Shakespeare using long scenes of powerful and moving exchange or confrontation, only to suddenly inject a short scene or moment of violence or faced paced highly charged action to give dramatic consequences. Also the play’s structure centres around the development of Iago in act one he is clearly the insignificant ensign, that has no control over anything or anyone. In Ac 2 we see him plot his revenge and in act three his ideas take shpae and come alive far more vividly that he could have expected.
Act four simply backs up act three, a short of repetition, that effectively emphaises and confirms Othello’s determination for revenge, and act five it is not clear whether Iago has suceeded in his aim or whether his aims have defeated him. Thus leaving the audience pondering over many things.It is extremely important ot the play that Iago is a soldier. No other profession could appear more distant from an evil villian than tht of an ordinary, honest soldier with nothing of the smooth and courting behaviour to arosue suspcion.
It fact it seems to those around him that his chief fault is too much plzin speaking! Iago being staying as an ensign (which was traditionally thourght of a aa a postion taken by the brave, trusted and well liked) instead of becoming Othello’s lieutenant, which carries higher military prestige, supplies the audience with Iago motivation behind his hatred of Othello and jealousy of Cassio. Therefore to hide his angry and HATRED he reinforces his image as the ‘honest’ soldier to maximum effect, and he achieves this admirably with Cassio saying ‘You advise me well…Goodnight honest Iago’, Desdsemona commenting that Iago is ‘an honest fellow’ and lodovico saying tht Iago is ‘a very valient fellow’.The fact that Iago and Casiio ar e both in the army also helps to represent that diffeneces, in personality through their positions. Cassio sees Iag oas meerly a blunt soldier, he is the traditional presentation of a soldier, he sings manly and crude drinking songs,, he enjoys good drink, cracks witty jokes and one-liners and is liked by his fellow soldiers. In all, Cassio actually sums it up nicely saying ‘He speaks home madam; you may relish more in the soldier than in the scholar.
‘ Act 2 Scene 1 line161-2 In stark contrast Cassio is educated, polite and aware of social graces. He has studied war fare though he has not activley take part in battles. So Iag osees him as a ‘conter-caster’ and comments on his ‘bookish theoric’.Iago gets away with using crude and courselanguage because of his just a simple soldier image, but he uses it to great effect, for example incitng Brabantio’s anger of Othello by saying ‘an old black ram is tupping your white ewe’ and disgusts Othello and greatens his hatred ofCassio and Desdemona by saying ‘ would you the superviser grossly gape on behold her topped. And then goes on to say ‘Were they as prime as goats, as hot as monkeys, as salt as wolves in prode..
.’Othello uses his ‘honest’ image to great effect, and the essence of why people believe him his Iago freuently implies that he is reluctantly withholding the truth to avoid the blame being placed on particular persons:’ I had reather have this tongue cut from my mouthThsnit should do offence to Mmichael Cassio.’ Act 2 Scene 3 Lines 202-3His honest image even allows him to condemn his vile and false thourghts as just that, and actually condemn himself as the wrongly accusing villain, but because of this honesty, he infects Othello, curiosity even more:’As I confess it is my nature’s plagueTo spy into abuses, and oft my jealousyShapes faults that are not-‘ Act 3 Scene 3 lines 146-8In this way little of what Iago says its acutalu lies.Of course, the situation of Cassio being in the army, means that by getting drunk, it is far more serious and wounding a senior office it is far more serious as his creer is in jepordy, plus acts as SOMETHING ELSE.In essence the rivalry between Cassio and Iago is basically over socail class. The attiude of the Elizabethans over this is that it is only natural for Cassio to be promoted over Iago because precedence (Which refers to ranking ) is much higher than that of Iago’s as Iag ohas no land, hardley any money or educated. Whereas Cassio is ‘handsome, young, and hath all those requisities in him that folly and green minds look after’.
Because Iago feels that a main reason that Cassio was choosen is due to his higher socail class and makes it clear saying that:’Preferment goes by letter and affection,Not by old graduation…’In using a military settting, this is clearly highlighting and emphaising the osical order and hieracy, present in Elizabethan England (though it is still evident, now) that makes Iago the cynic that he is, who refuses to believe in basic humanity, and the audience must feel sympathy that though he has given Othello loyal service for a far greater time than Cassio, he is rejected on the ground of something that he has no power over.In the Elizabethan period it was generally considered foolish to marry for love, therefore Desdemona and Othello’s marriage is exceptional. Women, or rather wives are seen as the property of their husbands, and it is assumed that a womans gole in life is to get married.
In Othello we are given three diffent sterotypes of women. There is Desdemona, the loving and gemtile wife, there is Emila the nagging and cynic wife and of course Bianica the prostitute. Cassio irs in most cases repectful when in the presence of women, this is in contrast to Iago who treats thwm just the same as they were a fellow soldier, and in fact is quite insultive. Though Iago cast’s Cassio in the role of ‘Lady Killer’ through manipulating his polite and courteous nature when dealing with women and giving them the required attention. SO WHAT?It is essential to Othello that the characters are set in a military environment with various rankings with in the system because it gives Iago a prefect imGE TO HIDE BEHIND AND CREATES A GREAT SENSE OF TRAGIC IRONY, WITH Othwllo being a magnificant leader, commanding thoussands of men and outwitting the most powerful enemeies yet when it comes to the flimseyidea that his wife may be cheating on him he can not cope with it. Even though tragic heros are normall reserved for the position of Kings and Princes ,it is important that Shakespeare has rejected this in favour of a valient and courageous commnader who was deeply admired and respected for his dignity.