• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Animal Imagery in Othello

Extracts from this document...


In Shakespeare's Othello, bestial imagery is used throughout the text, mostly by Iago. Iago uses these images to plant ideas in other character's heads in order to further his own devious plans. On a deeper level, the continual use of the imagery coincides with Othello's fall from grace. With each mention of bestial imagery, Othello creeps closer to his own downfall, eventually using the animal imagery himself. The first use of animal imagery in Othello occurs in the very first act, setting the tone for the rest of the book. In the first step in his plan to destroy Othello, Iago uses animal imagery in order to enrage Desdemona's father, Brabantio. Iago tells Brabantio that, "Even now, now, very now, an old black ram is tupping your white ewe" (1.1.97). Iago then goes on to tell Brabantio that, "you'll have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse you'll have your nephews neigh to you, you'll have coursers for cousins and jennets for germans" (1.1.125-127) ...read more.


He says that, "With as little a web as this I will ensnare a great fly as Cassio" (2.1 .183). Iago takes a perverse pleasure in seeing is wicked plan play out right before his eyes. Iago takes the innocent musings between Cassio and Desdemona and integrates it perfectly into his master plan. Iago's plan works to perfection. Desdemona's clandestine meeting with Cassio, in the seduction scene, provides the perfect opportunity for Iago to get inside of Othello's head. Iago sows seeds of doubt in Othello and works to nurture them for the rest of the play. In the seduction scene, Iago says to Othello, "Would you grossly gape on, behold her topped" (3.3.451). "Topped" is a reference to "tupping" (an image used earlier in the play) which is a reference to the mating of a ram and an ewe. Iago goes on to say that, "were they prime as goats, as hot as monkeys, as salt as wolves in pride" (3.3.460). ...read more.


In the ensuing chaos, Othello uses animal imagery to attempt to justify his actions. He says, "Cassio did top her, ask thy husband" (5.2.167). The truth is then revealed to Othello, he discovers that Desdemona was faithful and Iago had been lying the whole time. Appropriately the final lines include bestial imagery. Lodovico calls Iago a "Spartan Dog" (5.2.424), which means a trained killer. This is truly appropriate as Iago killed many or is responsible for the killing of everyone who dies in the play. Shakespeare's Othello the use of bestial imagery runs throughout the play. The play's antagonist Iago uses it throughout the play in his quest to bring about the destruction of Othello. However, Iago's use of bestial imagery, while more abundant, pales in importance when compared to Othello's use of the imagery. Othello's use of the animal imagery almost directly coincides with his fall from grace. The more Iago's type of language creeps into Othello's the closer Othello is to his downfall. How appropriate that the final verses of the play contained that which guided the play throughout, animal imagery. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Othello section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Othello essays

  1. An Exploration of Imagery in Othello

    It can be argued that it is by distorting Othello's own view of love as spiritual and noble and replacing it with his view of it as a basic physical appetite that Iago succeeds in destroying Othello's faith in Desdemona.

  2. Free essay

    To what extent is Iago responsible for the downfall of other characters in Othello?

    Therefore Iago says things such as "she did deceive her father marrying you/ and when she seemed to shake and fear your looks/ she loved them most" [III iii 206-208], pointing out Othello's differences with the rest of the society he lives in.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work