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A tragic play centres on peripeteia. To what extent can Act 3 scene 3 be regarded as the turning point in the play"Othello"?

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A tragic play centres on peripeteia. To what extent can Act 3 scene 3 be regarded as the turning point in the play? ?Peripeteia is a sudden reversal of fortune or change in circumstances.[1]? It is a key device used in tragedies to bring to life the catastrophic situation that leads to the destruction of the protagonist. Aristotle said that a peripeteia is: ?a reversal of fortune, involving persons renowned and of superior attainments[2]? Shakespeare?s ?Othello? is a tragedy in which the protagonist falls from a respected General in the Venetian Army with a loving wife, to a jealous and raged monster. Act III sc iii can be widely regarded as the turning point as the audience sees the factors that contribute to Othello?s downfall come together. Firstly the handkerchief is used as a structural device to provide Iago with sufficient evidence to destroy Cassio. Secondly Iago is promoted to Othello?s lieutenant after bonding with him and finally Othello is misled by Iago?s hint-dropping of his wife?s infidelity which provokes his rage. However the change in emotions of Othello and the victimisation of Desdemona are seen as no surprise as they are set up in this way by Shakespeare throughout the play, creating no turning point. It could also be argued that there is no peripeteia as the audience sees Iago?s manipulation unfold throughout the play and thus it could be seen that the tragic outcome is already established. ...read more.


This contributes to ActIII sciii as a turning point as the audience is shown that Othello has a lot of trust in Iago as he asks him to reveal his innerthoughts: ?If thou dost love me, show me thy thoughts[6]? This is an example of Othello?s belief in Iago that is only shown clearly in ActIII sciii, hence contributing to it as a peripeteia. Iago continues to act as a friend to Othello in this scene as he warns him of the dangers of jealousy: ?O beware, my lord, of jealousy: It is the green-eyed monster[7]? He is suggesting that he may be overruled by his own jealousy to make Othello start to panic. He worsens this by using the fact that Othello is an outsider to warn him of Venetian women: ?Let God see the pranks they dare not show their husbands.[8]? Iago?s generalisation of women as all being unfaithful in this quote makes Othello?s mind run wild as he believes that Desdemona will be capable of this deception. These subtle hints create the change in Othello?s feelings he begins the scene as a loving and devoted husband: ?I do love thee; and when I love thee not, chaos is come again[9]? Othello expresses here that he believes in their relationship because everything else in life is of no importance as long as he has Desdemona. ...read more.


The introduction of the ?frowned upon? relationship of Desdemona and Othello is also shown straight away. It seems illogical to pinpoint a specific turning point when it seems the tragic outcome has been established in the anterior time of the play. Moreover, the audience sees Iago?s manipulation continuing to unfold throughout the whole play; so it could be seen that the play has multiple turning points as different events trigger different factors that contribute to the tragic outcome. In conclusion I think it can be widely regarded that ActIII sciii is a turning point of the play as it is where the audience sees the majority of Iago?s manipulation, and his plan falling into place. The changes that we see in the protagonist from the beginning to the end of this scene are evidence of his change in circumstances and fortune as he falls from prosperity. The handkerchief which has been an essential prop throughout the play comes to true purpose in this scene also. However in my opinion, although I can see why ActIII sciii is regarded as a turning point, and in some respects agree, I think that there is in fact no turning point in the play. As an audience we see Iago?s scheming unfold throughout the entire play and therefore are constantly anticipating the tragic outcome which seems to be inevitable from the beginning of the play because it had already been set up by the deceit between Shakespeare?s characters. ...read more.

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