Othello's Final Speech In William Shakespeare's Play

1890 words - 8 pages

Othello's Final Speech in William Shakespeare's Play

The five screen interpretations where all with the actors playing
Othello as, Welles, Olivier, Hopkins, White and Fishburne. All five
were produced on video format with a contrast of film and stage
presentations. I have decided to focus on the three presentations of,
Olivier, White and Fishburne. The final speech of Othello starts with
Othello near to or cradling the limp lifeless boy of Desdemona after
he has killed her. Iago has been arrested and Emilia is dead. The play
is closing in the traditional Shakespearian way with an explosive and
emotional ending similar to Romeo and Juliet with the loves killing
themselves as a result of misfortune and lies. In the films there is a
mixture of setting and performance styles and some of the Othello's
are "blacked up" as they are of Caucasian natural skin. This speech is
important as it is the culmination of the whole play and all the
issues raised as to the love and mind of "the Moor" are addressed. The
whole last scene, Act 5 Scene 2 is a closing of the tragic and
powerful story. This scene is as important as Act 2 Scene 2 or Act 4
Scene 1 all of which will be reviewed in this essay. The importance of
each theme covered in Othello will also be looked at and I will
investigate its meaning and why it was used as it was by Shakespeare.
As well as this I will also review the context in which specific words
and phrases have a massive impact. As well as film interpretations I
will also look at artistic pieces namely paintings by Colin and
Delacroix of different parts of the scene.

The speech begins with two important words "Soft you;" these show
Othello's desire for a kind eye from both the audience and his fellow
men, Cassio, Lodovico. The punctuation of a semi-colon which was not
in the original script allows the actor to wait for the men to be in
his attention and so he can begin his confession and his quest for
forgiveness. There is a sense of tragic fate throughout the play from
the interrogation of Othello over his love for Desdemona in front of
the governors in Act I. This love was described as "pure love" but as
it is seen this love is tainted and impure at first glance. But on a
more spiritual level Othello killing Desdemona can be seen as sparing
her a life of pain and fear. The killing is the lesser of two evils.
An action utilitarianism philosophers such as John Stuart Mill would
condone as the right thing to do in this situation.

The first interpretation was Welles as Othello. This was a black and
white film and the director was clearly to be seen as attempting to
show Othello's speech as a confession which was a very unique attempt
as most of the other directors went for a more explanation of
Othello's actions and his feelings rather than a planned constructed
...

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