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The Development Of Othello's Character In William Shakespeare's Play

1918 words - 8 pages

The Development of Othello's Character in William Shakespeare's Play At the start of the play Othello is presented as a very confident
character. He is a high ranking general in the Venetian army.
However during the course of the play Othello is betrayed and
manipulated by Iago, and the audience observes the unravelling of his
tragic flaw (jealousy) which initiates the degeneration of his
character into obsession, jealousy, insanity, anger and ultimately
suicide.

In this essay I will demonstrate how Shakespeare presents this
development to the audience, and why he chooses to do it in the way he
does. To carry this task out I will initially give a brief summary of
the plot of the tragedy Othello. The general marries Desdemona in
secret, Iago learns of this and reports this news to Brabantio who
uncomforted by the news. Then Othello, Desdemona, Iago, Cassio and
Roderigo travel to Cyprus as there is threatened invasion. Just
before they travel to Cyprus Iago exclaims he wants to seek revenge on
Othello as the promotion to lieutenant given to Cassio. Iago decides
to exploit the relationship between Othello and Desdemona. He does
this by manipulating Othello into believing that Desdemona is having
an affair with Cassio. To a Jacobean audience an affair was a
dreadful crime and was by no way accepted in people’s opinions as it
to day. Iago to further tamper with Othello’s thoughts gains
possession of a present, which the moor had gifted to Desdemona which
was a handkerchief. He uses to this to further damage Othello’s
mental stability. Othello has he mind set on revenge on Cassio and
Desdemona. The play culminates with the murder of Desdemona, Iago and
finally the suicide of Othello; this is by all accounts a tragic
ending to the play. This play Othello was first performed at court in
1604. The play begins in Venice which was a powerful and wealthy
state in the sixteenth century. Othello was a moor; the term moor
was used rather broadly in Shakespearean times. The term moor now
means Islamic Arabic inhabitants of Nigeria who invaded Spain in the
eighteenth century

Shakespeare uses language to present the decline in Othello’s
character. At the outset Othello’s language is confident, poetic and
flowery. He is a dignified and controlled general of the Venetian and
his gift for oratory both inspires those under his command and makes
Desdemona fall in love with him. He uses long and complex sentences
and it is implied that his voice has a musical and lyrical tone.

“I will around unvarnish’d tale deliver Of my whole course love; what
drugs, what charms, What conjuration and what mighty magic, for such
proceeding I am charged withal,...

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