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“How Does Shakespeare Encourage The Audience To Pity The Character Of Othello?”

1092 words - 5 pages

It is in the great tragedy, Othello by William Shakespeare, that Shakespeare has managed to create a character so pitiable, yet so powerful. Throughout the play, the audience witnesses Othello’s self-destruction and loss of power through his rage filled speeches and situations of false accusation. Witnessing his relationships with Iago and Desdemona is like watching one being driven mad with their own self-hate: any rational being would tell Othello to be realistic and trust his wife, yet the same individual would realise that Othello is mentally ill and not much can be done to help the situation. Therefore, the audience feels powerless in this situation thus he or she feels pity for the ...view middle of the document...

The audience feels pity because they know Othello and Desdemona have a strong and loving relationship, and Othello is a kind man.

Throughout the play, we see Othello’s fatal flaw of jealousy and curiosity develop which eventually leads to his self-destruction. The audience feels pity because they are helplessly witnessing the downfall of this kind, important figure. However, Othello can be called naïve because he easily falls for Iago’s trickery without question. In Act Three Scene Three Othello is constantly drilling information out of Iago, after Iago suggested about Desdemona cheating: “Zounds! What dost thou mean?” Othello wants to know more information but knows that what he finds out will not make him any happier, which evokes pity because the audience can see the beginnings of his fatal flaw. Iago manipulates the situation further: “Beware, my lord, of jealousy!” Iago is confirming that Othello is tragically flawed. If he did not have this, Othello would have been rational and avoided the situation entirely. This evokes pity because the audience realises that Othello has no control over his personality and flaws, and the matter of miscommunication between the characters could have been easily avoided.
Othello’s relationship with Desdemona evokes pity in many ways. In the start of the play, the couple are deeply in love. Desdemona portrays the typical image of what a woman should have been like. She is married to a black man much older than her because she loves him, and the destruction of this unlikely yet utterly beautiful relationship evokes sadness and pity. “She loves me for the dangers I had passed And I loved her that she did pity them.” Othello often fought for Desdemona to be with her, and vice versa. Later in the play, during his numerous moments of tirade when he finds out about the handkerchief and truly believes that Desdemona is cheating, he has moments of rationality in his speeches showing his love for Desdemona which is still present: “Hang her, I do but say she is: so delicate with her needle, an admirable musician.” The audience picks up on these subtle drifts in...

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