William Shakespeare's Othello As A Mirror Of Man

2365 words - 9 pages

Othello as a Mirror of Man

 
    In the play Othello by William Shakespeare, the characters are symbolic of qualities found in every human. The main characters, Othello, Desdemona and Iago, are key examples of this. Othello is symbolic of jealousy and pride; Desdemona is symbolic of kindness and honesty and Iago is symbolic of deceit and selfishness. Shakespeare uses all of these traits to depict his characters in Othello and exaggerates their personalities throughout the play. In this essay, it will be proven that the characters Othello, Desdemona and Iago, are all metaphorical representations of human emotions and characteristics.

 

The character Othello, whose story is the focus of the play, starts out as a highly regarded general in the Venetian army who is greatly respected by the Duke of Venice. He is married to the lovely Desdemona, daughter of a senator, and is very much in love with her. The way he is treated by those who resent him for being a Moor evokes the audience's sympathy for him and makes him seem to be the victim in the story. It is only after he is in Cyprus, after his victory over the Turkish fleet, that he shows his true colors. It only takes a mere suggestion from his "honest" ancient, Iago, to make Othello suspicious of his wife's infidelity. He worries that she is cheating on him with his lieutenant, Cassio, even though he has no evidence to prove that his suspicion has any basis in fact. His fear is based solely on the fact that he doesn't want to be a cuckold and he is worried what others might think of him if they find out that his wife is having an affair. His reputation is so very important to him that after he is told that Desdemona may be cheating on him, he tells Iago that he would rather not know: "Avaunt! Begone! Thou hast set me on the rack. / I swear `tis better to be much abused / than but to know't a little" (Act 3, Sc. 3, l. 385-387). The news of Desdemona's infidelity to him not only hurts his pride but also causes him to show his jealousy. He really does love her that the thought of her being with another man is unbearable to him. She causes him to be so stressed that he has seizures. When he asks to see the handkerchief that he gave her as a present and represents for him their love, he gets angry and yells at her because he thinks she has given it to Cassio: "Is't lost? Is't gone? Speak, is't out o'th'way?" (Act 3, Sc. 4, l. 93). Near the end of the play, he is so influenced by Iago that he loses all trust in Desdemona. Despite the lack of proof that there is a real affair, Othello wants to murder Cassio and Desdemona for tarnishing his reputation. However, it is his paranoia that is threatening his reputation: "How shall I murder him / Iago?" (Act 4, Sc. 1, l. 188-189). At the downfall of his existence, when he has killed Desdemona, he finally realizes that he is wrong and that he killed his beloved wife because of his unbridled jealousy and pride. He...

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