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Misinterpretation Of Reality In Othello By William Shakespeare

2825 words - 11 pages

Misinterpretation of Reality in Othello


   Othello, by William Shakespeare, is a mix of love, sexual passion and

the deadly power of jealousy. Shakespeare has created an erotic thriller

based on a human emotion that people are all familiar with.  There is

an extraordinary fusion of characters' with different passions in Othello.

Every character is motivated by a different desire.  Shakespeare mesmerizes the

reader by manipulating his characters abilities to perceive and discern what is

happening in reality.  It is this misinterpretation of reality that leads to

the erroneous perceptions that each character holds.


      After reading this tragedy, the depth of Shakespeare's characters

continue to raise many questions in the minds of the reader.  The way I

percieve the character of Othello and what concerns me, is that Othello is able

to make such a quick transition from love to hate of Desdemona. In Act 3, Scene

3, Othello states, "If she be false, O, then heaven mocks itself! I'll not

believe 't." (lines 294-295) Yet only a couple hundred lines later he says,

"I'll tear her to pieces" (line 447) and says that his mind will never change

from the "tyrannous hate" (line 464) he now harbors. Does Othello make the

transition just because he is so successfully manipulated by Iago? Or is there

something particular about his character which makes him make this quick

change?  I believe that "jealousy" is too simple of a term to describe Othello.

I think that Othello's rapid change from love to hate for Desdemona is fostered

partly by an inferiority complex. He appears to be insecure in his love for

Desdemona (as well as in his position in Venetian society). Othello's race and

age ("Haply, for I am black . . . for I am declined into the vale of years," 3.3.

279-282) and his position as a soldier contribute to his feelings of inadequacy.


      Othello admits to Desdemona that he doesn't have "those soft parts of

conversation" possessed by well-bred Venetian noblemen, those to which (as a

senator's daughter) she has become acclimated (3.3.280-281). Othello's speech

(1.3.130-172) also conveys his feeling that Desdemona loves him for his

exploits and achievements rather than for his mind. Othello apparently feels a

constant responsibility to prove to  Desdemona (through his heroic deeds) that

he is worthy of her love.It is my opinion  that Othello is a man governed by a

subconscious need or impulse to believe ideas rather than reason. In believing

Iago's lie, Othello apparently is controlled by his aforementioned inferiority

complex -- his feeling that  he just doesn't measure up to (young, suave, and

of course, white) nobleman Michael Cassio in Desdemona's mind. Othello is more

naturally predisposed to believe this "idea" rather than to engage in rational


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