Psychological Criticism Of Characters In Othello

2172 words - 9 pages

In William Shakespeare’s play Othello, Iago, the villain, deceives the main character, Othello into thinking his wife is unfaithful. Although Iago’s claims are not true, Othello believes him, and by the end of the play, jealousy overtakes Othello. Othello’s jealousy is so intense that he kills his beautiful, faithful wife Desdemona due to his unfortunate trust in Iago. Because jealousy is not common to Othello’s nature, it seems odd that his jealousy drives him to murder. Also questionable, are Iago’s reasons for wanting to destroy Othello. Analysis will discover the characters unique motivations for their actions.
Othello is the tragic hero of the play, whose tragic flaw is jealousy. In the beginning, Othello seems to display only superior qualities. He has a good reputation and people respect him as a good lieutenant and a man of noble character. Othello assumes the best about people and trusts everyone. Before the play begins, Othello elopes with Desdemona. Desdemona is the Senator’s daughter and some people think Othello married her to obtain political benefits. However, Othello demonstrates his honesty when he exposes that he is of noble heritages himself. Later, Othello shows his dignity and great sense of security in who he is when he discourages the men from fighting. He says, “Keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them. Good signor, you shall more command with years than with your weapons.” In this quote, he shows wisdom and dignity by telling the men that age and status generate more respect than force does. Another great quality of Othello is that his relationship with Desdemona is not purely sexual. He loves Desdemona for her personality and for everything she is. After marrying Desdemona, Othello has to open up a new gentle side that he has never experienced before. Being a soldier, he is usually tough and emotionless; now, he must embrace the unfamiliar. When Othello calls Desdemona an “excellent wretch,” he realizes for the first time that nothing is as important to him as Desdemona and this confuses him. For the first time in his life, love is the strongest emotion. Honesty is another of Othello’s qualities. For example, when telling about how he won Desdemona’s love, Othello tells it exactly how it happened. Othello has total confidence in himself and others. He has his priorities straight and does not let anything upset him.
Although Othello’s character seems to be indestructible, he experiences a major downfall. Throughout the play, Othello’s actions cause him to fall and his reputation to turn to filth. The biggest mistake Othello makes is being too trusting of the wrong person. Othello thinks that Iago is honest; ironically, he is the most dishonest of all the characters. When Iago tells Othello that Desdemona is unfaithful, Othello believes Iago without any physical proof. The reason as to why Othello believes Iago is questionable, but literary critic Marcia Macaulay suggests that, “Othello falls prey to...

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