Othello is a play about a black ‘noble moor’ who has an ideal marriage. This ‘ideal’ marriage, however, is destroyed by Iago’s deception and disloyalty; his motives for causing this uproar are unclear. Through encouraging the growth of doubt in Othello’s mind his marriage expires and in its place jealousy and anger grows to the point of death. There are many key scenes throughout Othello, although act3/scene3 is important as it contributes greatly to the outcome of the play. There are a great range in characters and a long list of themes explored.
These factors are both significant to the story, as without the variety it would not have appealed to such a range of viewers when performed to a Shakespearean audience in the Elizabethan era. When studying this book it was important to think how this would have been performed on stage and its affects on the audience. Othello was black therefore there would have been a heightened racist response from the audience. His race was linked to evil so his character would have been expected to be sexually immoral, ignorant and brutal. However, Othello betrayed this stereotype until the end of the play.
This play, in particular, would have interested all as the vulgar language and sexy scenes would have appealed to the groundlings, and the Lords and Ladies would have appreciated Othello’s eloquent and graceful speech, “Keep up your bright swords for the dew will rust them” Page 77, line 58. Act3/scene3 is significant to the play in terms of plot as it is this scene that begins to structure what is to come. Desdemona promises Cassio that she will help to persuade Othello to give him is job back, “Be thou assured, good Cassio, I will do all my abilities in thy behalf. Page 163, line 1.
It is this innocent behaviour that supplies Iago with the opportunity to suggest something going on. Iago begins to twist Othello’s mind by portraying Cassio to be guilty of a crime. This temptation of Iago’s begins the doubt in Othello’s mind. Dramatic Irony strikes when Othello states that when his love for Desdemona is gone, chaos will come. The audience immediately begins to construct a visual idea of what is to come although Othello remains oblivious, “But I do love thee; and when I love thee not, chaos is come again. ” Page 171, line 92.
Othello and Iago begin to discuss Cassio’s honesty, throughout Iago interprets Cassio to be untrustworthy. The key part of the plot is when Emilia steals the handkerchief from Desdemona’s chamber. This is used as the symbol of adultery throughout, as Iago uses this to portray Desdemona’s infidelity to Othello. Othello demands ocular proof as to the whereabouts of the handkerchief that had previously been his mothers. We know that this will lead to trouble. By this point in the play Othello has begun to change and both his mental and physical states begin to deteriorate.
Iago tells Othello that he heard Cassio talk of his love for Desdemona in his sleep. The overall situation destroys Othello’s love for Desdemona and hate develops when he requests for Cassio to be killed, “Within in these three days let me hear thee say that Cassio’s not alive. ” Page 197, line 470. The variety in characters helps the play to appeal to a wide variety of people. The varied cast permits the improbable story line to succeed. Desdemona throughout the play is an innocent, loving and caring character.
In act3/scene3 she appears more nai??ve although persistent and remains to be a strong but loyal character, “Be thou assured good Cassio… ” Page 163, line 1. Following act3/scene3 Desdemona’s character remains sweet although she begins to worry for her life and is amazed her husband doubts her love for him. Desdemona begs for mercy when Othello talks of killing her in her bed, “Then heaven have mercy on me. ” Page 271, line 33. She argues that she naught not feel fear as she is innocent although she does because she recognises Othello’s capability of fatal doings, “And yet I fear you: for you’re fatal then…
Why I should fear I know not, since guiltiness I know not” Page 271, line 39. Before act3/scene3 Emilia seems to be more of a background character. All we are aware she is a loyal friend of Desdemona’s. In act3/scene3 Emilia shows her true colours. She is a loyal, supportive and faithful friend of Desdemona and this is why the reader/audience is shocked when she steals her handkerchief, “If it be not for any purpose or importance… “Page 187, line 314. Emilia feels guilty for stealing the possession of her friend so demands that if it is not needed for a purpose she wishes to return it.
After act3/scene3 Emilia remains loyal to Desdemona as she stands against Iago. Honesty rivals her mind so she confesses to stealing the handkerchief and in the process reveals Iago’s sick plan, “O thou dull moor, that handkerchief thou speak’st of I found by fortune, and did give my husband. ” Page 285, line 224. In the end Emilia dies for Desdemona. Iago is a cruel, cunning and manipulative character. “I am not what I am… ” Page 63, line 66. In act3/scene3 he develops his persona and remains a sick and twisted man with little respect for his wife, “It is a common thing… o have a foolish wife” Page 185, line 300. Towards the end of the play he becomes a more withdrawn character although his sick manner is shown greatly when he suggests the method for killing Desdemona, “Do it not with poison, strangle her in her bed…. ” Page 227, line 203.
Othello is an eloquent, respected, controlled and poetic character to begin with then this deteriorates as doubt infects his mind, “Put up your swords for the dew will rust them” Page 77, line 58. He becomes vulgar and aggressive with little respect for anyone except Iago, “My friend, thy husband, honest, honest Iago. Page 281, line 154. Following act3/scene3 Othello progressively gets worse although he often quavers from his old eloquent self to the vulgar man he had become. Othello himself has all the elements of a tragic hero: he is a gentleman held in high esteem; he has the tragic flaw (gullibility) and the sacrifice of suicide. Othello’s self-betrayal is much to do with his flaws within his qualities, as he trusts Iago he betrays himself in being ignorant to the truth. By having these flaws he gives in to temptation from Iago – whereby he sets him self up to be vulnerable/paranoid and loses control.
Once this happens Othello is led into a journey of mad jealousy. Iago’s methods used to destroy Othello’s faith in Desdemona throughout act3/scene3 are greatly significant. He used beastial imagery to make Othello jealous and aroused suspicion to cause Othello to doubt his wife. Repetition was used to emphasise important points, “… Honest… honest… honest” Page 171, line 104, and as a whole Iago really sucks up to Othello by being over loyal, “My lord, you know I love you” Page 173, line 116. Iago often leaves a point mid-sentence as though to raise Othello’s suspicion, “Nothing my lord; or if I know not what” Page 167, line 35.
He often contradicts himself as though to not give too much information away but this also keeps Othello’s interest, “Why then I think Cassio is an honest man” Page 173, line 129. Iago wants Othello to stay interested in what he may or may not know so that he can play on Othello’s doubt to cause travesty. Iago graphically lies about sexual relations between Desdemona and Cassio. This rages Othello and causes him to doubt, “… His leg over my thigh, and sighed and kissed… “page 193, line 420. There are many dramatic moments throughout Othello but the following are the most significant.
The intensity of some of these moments is very affective. I. e. Othello is on his knees claiming revenge against Desdemona. This makes the audience fear for Desdemona and clearly shows Othello’s physical change. Him kneeling shows the level to which he has stooped, lower than Iago in this case. This is morally but is shown physically. The handkerchief is a key symbol throughout act3/scene3; it is the symbol of adultery and soon becomes the key ingredient for Iago’s plot. It produces dramatic irony, as we the reader/audience know of Iago’s plans although Emilia doesn’t so continues to fuel Iago.
We worry for Desdemona as the outcome suddenly becomes clear. As Othello persistently demands from Desdemona to know where the handkerchief is, tension rises and doubt builds in Othello’s mind. The handkerchief itself begins as a trivial prop although as the play progresses it increases in dramatic power. It becomes a clear symbol of the deterioration of Othello and Desdemona’s love for one another. There is vast dramatic power in the language used by a variety of characters. E. g. Iago is describing Cassio in bed. This example is beastial in base and is very graphic, “…
His leg over my thigh, and sighed and kissed… “page 193, line 420. Othello’s language begins to change; this illustrates his rapid deterioration of character. His language begins to break down in act3/scene3 with the discussion between himself and Iago about the relationship between his wife and Cassio. As jealousy rises as does suspicion, “Ha, ha-false to me? ” page 187, line 331. Dramatic power is a key factor of Othello. It is explored throughout but two of the most memorable (for me) and most important are from act3/scene3.
When Desdemona and Cassio are talking we understand how Iago will use this against them and to change Othello’s mind. To Desdemona and Cassio it is an innocent, friendly thing to do. We know otherwise. Emilia’s stealing of the handkerchief causes the reader/audience to worry, as we understand the importance of what she may think of as a trivial thing. We begin to piece together the situation as a whole and when we imagine Othello’s reaction we immediately fear for Desdemona’s life. There are four main themes explored in Othello. They are: love, jealousy, appearance and reality (of characters) and revenge.
Love is always there between Desdemona and Othello but when Othello begins to doubt this love rapidly transforms to hate. My interpretation of the use of this theme is that Shakespeare is trying to explain what is needed in order for love to remain throughout a relationship. Trust is needed in order for love to remain consistent is a clear statement made by this play. Emilia and Desdemona’s love is consistent and trust is there between them until the end. It is also shown that it may be impossible to both love and hate one person at one time.
This is proved correct, as Othello still loves Desdemona but hate develops towards the end and it begins to take control. Jealousy is the prime theme of Othello. The points raised are that jealousy poisons the mind. Iago warns Othello of this, “… Jealousy; it is the green-eyed monster… ” Page 175, line 165. It is possible to develop jealousy; you are not automatically born as a jealous being. This is shown as Iago openly states that Othello is not naturally jealous, “The moor is of a free and open nature, that he thinks men honest that but seem so… ” Page 105, line 391.
It is thought that love and jealousy cannot exist together, “Away at once with love or jealousy” Page 177, line 191. The appearance and reality of the characters is sometimes completely the opposite. Iago appears to love Othello although in reality he is a conniving man with little love for anything except himself. It is easy to deceive and manipulate if you make out to be what your not. Iago does this, as he appears not the terrible sick-minded man he is but the loving, loyal man he portrays himself to be, “I am not what I am. ” Page 63, line 66. Othello’s character, in appearance, would have been expected to be evil.
In reality he is respected. He defies this theory until the end, as Shakespeare knew this would have been what the audience weren’t expecting. In Elizabethan times it wasn’t anti-social to be racist. Revenge is shown to become the strongest emotion. It destroys all love and is used to empower Othello, “… Wide revenge… sacred vow I here engage my words” Page 195, line 457. He eventually allows revenge to destroy the thing he loved most – Desdemona – and decided revenge is easier than forgiveness, “Come with me apart, I will withdraw to furnish me with some swift means of death… Page 197, line 474. Although Othello isn’t a ‘Revenge tragedy’ (a piece of drama in which the dominant motive is revenge for a real or imagined injury), the way in which Iago (the supreme villain of the period) takes his revenge on the Moor is what concerns the majority of the play. Dramatic irony occurs when the meaning intended by a character’s words or actions is opposite of the true situation.
Often the character cannot see or understand the contrast, but the audience/reader can. In this play dramatic irony occurs frequently i. e. Othello refers to Iago as “honest Iago. Unknown to Othello, Iago is a villain who deceives him into thinking that Desdemona has been unfaithful, this resulting in Othello unjustifiably killing his wife, believing the whole time in Iago’s honesty. Act3/scene3 is significant to the plays rhythm as it is in this act/scene that the audience sees the breakdown of Othello’s personality and begins to realise this is a tragedy in the making. Dramatic irony is important because it makes the audience part of the play as it encourages them to think about what has happened and it imposes the question upon the audience as to why it has happened.
Shakespeare does not make it clear what Iago’s motives are so we are left with many questions unanswered. Each of the themes; love, jealousy, appearance and reality (of characters) and revenge, are significant as they all raise valid points of the era and subject of the play and the variety of characters allows the play as whole to appeal to many. Othello as a character is fundamentally flawed, this allows Iago to exercise manipulation and control Othello’s mind. It is these flaws, which allow the tragic deaths of Emilia, Desdemona and eventually Othello himself to occur.