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The Use Of Soliloquies In William Shakespeare's Othello

1109 words - 4 pages

The Use of Soliloquies in William Shakespeare's Othello

Soliloquy is a stage device which can be found throughout the works of
many modern day playwrights, and is famously used by Shakespeare in
his theatrical tragedy, “Othello.” We see at many key moments, both
the lead roles of Othello and Iago, speak when no other characters are
present or listening, revealing their inner most thoughts to the
audience, illuminating their private intentions and allowing them to
evaluate what their actions have already accomplished, without
offering the other characters the chance to learn what they are really
like.

Some critics express the opinion that modern audiences find that
soliloquy is often ‘outdated’ and ‘embarrassing.’ In a time of film,
where facial close-ups and various other informative techniques can be
adopted to reveal characters inner-most thoughts and emotions, the
soliloquy in contrast is delivered in neither a subtle or particularly
complex manner. Soliloquy can sometimes be seen as an easy way out for
writers to reveal their characters and their intent without having to
put in any work demonstrating them through dialogue and stage
direction.

By allowing the audience to witness a character talking only to
themselves, the soliloquies main purpose is to allow the audience to
feel secure that they are learning the purest truth about that
characters thoughts and are comfortable accepting these as fact.
However in retrospect, when Iago or Othello are revealing their own
thoughts to themselves, instead of seeing their words as one
dimensional and simply accepting them, we realise that they reveal
more about each of the characters than it at first seems. Shakespeare,
through his use of soliloquy, allows us to get a sense of the mental
instability of his characters which they themselves cannot recognise
and cannot tell us simply in words. A prime example is during Act 2
Scene 2, when Iago claims through his soliloquy, that one of the many
motives for his hatred of Othello is because he thinks the moor is
having an affair with his wife. ‘For that I do suspect the lusty Moor,
Hath leaped into my seat.’ It is only as the play develops and we see
both Othello and Emilia together showing no sexual interest in one
another at all, that we begin to doubt Iago’s reasoning and get a
deeper sense of his unprovoked malevolence. Through soliloquy
Shakespeare subtly presents the twisted nature of his villain and
there is little ‘embarrassing’ about the way he approaches this.

Other critics are more complimentary about Shakespeare’s use of
soliloquy, claiming that its usage gives Shakespeare and his actor a
strange-hold on their audience, raising tension and creating an
intimacy between actor and audience. Shakespeare is able to invite the
audience into the minds of both Iago and...

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