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AS and A Level: Othello

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  • Marked by Teachers essays 14
  • Peer Reviewed essays 5
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  1. Marked by a teacher

    Explore the presentation of Iago in Shakespeare's Othello.

    5 star(s)

    It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to fathom Shakespeare's original intentions for Iago. What must be noted is how different he is from the character in the tale by Cinthio from which Othello was drawn. The 'Ensign' is given a name and much more subtlety than in the original story. The motives and reasoning behind Iago's actions are also key to the movement of the plot. His role as a many-faceted representation of the evils in humanity makes him a fascinating device vital to the sense of tragedy and inevitability that surrounds the play.

    • Word count: 2291
  2. Marked by a teacher

    All of the characters who experience misfortune in Othello bring it upon themselves. Discuss the truth of this statement

    4 star(s)

    However, as Iago introduces Othello to the idea that Cassio may be of some harm to him by being with his wife, by responding very cunningly as he says, ?For Michael Cassio, /I dare be sworn I think that he is honest.? (3.3.137), he raises Othello?s curiosity on the subject of his wife?s faithfulness, stirring vile thoughts in his mind. A noticeable change occurs in Othello?s thoughts in that he believes to partly doubt himself in his speech, lacking those ?Soft parts of conversation/ That chamberers have?? (3.3.280-281).

    • Word count: 1475
  3. Marked by a teacher

    To what extent is language central to the understanding of Othello and Macbeth

    4 star(s)

    At the beginning of the play Othello is described as 'valiant' (II ii l.1) and 'noble' (I ii l.91). His language shows him to be eloquent and dignified though he claims to be 'rude' (I iii l.81). Macbeth at first is similarly described as 'noble' (I ii l.70) and 'valiant' (I ii l.24) and the other characters have a very high opinion of him. Despite this, the audience soon see that Macbeth is not all that he seems and begin to suspect that he has hidden 'desires' (I iv l.51). This suspicion is enhanced through the blood imagery associated with him.

    • Word count: 2240
  4. Marked by a teacher

    Explore the ways in which Iago destroys the relationship between Desdemona and Othello

    4 star(s)

    Therefore I ago may be jealous of Desdemona and Othello's relationship. As a result of his absolute loathing and jealousy of Othello, Iago plans to "put the Moor at least into a jealously so strong that judgement cannot cure." To destroy the relationship between Desdemona and Othello, Iago uses people to his advantage, for instance he uses such people as Cassio, Emilia and to some extent even Desdemona without their knowledge. What becomes evident about how Iago uses people to help him succeed in his plans is that he exploits peoples' own weaknesses without their knowledge.

    • Word count: 3031
  5. Marked by a teacher

    Male Domination In Othello

    4 star(s)

    However, this power which we see her possess at the beginning of the play as she tells her father that she 'did love the moor to live with him', to the ones which has been endowed on her as she is referred to as the 'general' gradually fades away. The first indication of Desdemona's victimisation in this male dominated society is evident when Iago refers to her body as if it was the property of Brabantio. He says to him 'your heart is burst, you have lost half your soul, even now, now, very now an old black ram is tupping your white ewe'.

    • Word count: 1769
  6. Marked by a teacher

    Presentation of Women in Othello

    4 star(s)

    She has fallen in love with Cassio and pursues him quite wholeheartedly, however her affections are not returned ('But that you do not love me.' III.iv.197), and she is eaten by jealously ('O Cassio, whence came this? / This is some token from a newer friend!' III.iv.180-1), Cassio and Iago dismiss this as her unruly nature and respond to her in a patronising manner ('Go to, woman, / Throw your vile guesses in the devil's teeth / From whence you have them!'

    • Word count: 1507
  7. Marked by a teacher

    How significant are Iagos soliloquies to the development of tragedy in Othello?

    3 star(s)

    Shakespeare does this to trigger a feeling of helplessness in the audience as they watch Cassio fall into Iago's trap, resulting in his actions becoming detrimental to Othello. The hatred for Iago progresses as those around him continue to call him 'honest Iago', leaving the audience powerless in voicing the truth about his notions. Iago's straightforward manipulation is foreshadowed as he tells the audience he will tamper with 'Othello's ear that he is too familiar with his wife', setting the pace of Othello's downfall.

    • Word count: 1728
  8. Marked by a teacher

    To what extent does Shakespeare present the catastrophe of Othello as inevitable?

    3 star(s)

    At the very beginning in Act I Scene 1, Shakespeare makes Iago inform the audience that he will follow Othello to "serve my turn upon him" which instantly suggest that inevitably something deceitful from Iago will occur - this small comment is remembered intently by the audiences because their memory is refreshed when Iago creates his sinister plan during his own soliloquies - the audience may also notice that this mysterious "Moor" is not in the play until Act I Scene 2 so the audience again is open to opinions as there is no support for Othello's side.

    • Word count: 1589
  9. Marked by a teacher

    Iagos speech in Act 2 Scene 3 serves as an insight into many of Iagos personality traits, his lack of moral scruples, his delusional state of mind and his powers of manipulation and foresight.

    3 star(s)

    Shakespeare illustrates Iago as a man, bereft of any moral scruple after initiating his plans to achieve retribution. It is not only the malicious side revealed in his speech that is testimony of his lack of a moral compass, but is also reinforced by a conflicting conviction of selflessness and generosity. His malicious side is highlighted by the characterisation of himself as a "devil" and a "villain". The use of metonymies evidences his wicked nature. However, this is contrasted with his conviction that he is generous and selfless. This reassurance serves for selfish purposes, trying to cover the guilt he would have suffered from all these evil deeds.

    • Word count: 734
  10. Marked by a teacher

    How does Iago manipulate different characters in order to achieve his aims?

    3 star(s)

    strength to back up his threats, and instead is convinced by Iago to murder Cassio by 'knocking out his brains' (VI, 2, 222). However, Iago intends Roderigo, as well as Cassio, to die in the fight, 'Live Roderigo [...] it must not be.' (V, 1, 14-18). To make sure of this he stabs Roderigo after he is wounded by Cassio. Another person manipulated by Iago is Cassio. Iago is able to take advantage of Cassio's courtesy, recognising that his weakness lies in the fact that he is 'handsome, young and hath all those requisites in him that folly and green

    • Word count: 1410
  11. Marked by a teacher

    Deception in Othello

    3 star(s)

    As a result we learn that Iago's motives and words are false and should not be trusted, hence we begin to question his proposal of being deceitful in the first place. We wonder ourselves if we should trust his judgment once he declares "I am not what I am". Iago reveals his plan to the audience in the presence of Rodrigo, who is also deceived later in the play, so it is possible that Iago also wants to veil his real aims from the audience too.

    • Word count: 1402
  12. Marked by a teacher

    Is Othello a Noble Hero or a Credulous Fool?

    3 star(s)

    Almost immediately after swords have been drawn against him, Othello coolly says, 'keep up your bright swords for the due shall rust them'. This comment is not only clever, but it also shows the audience his poetic style of speaking, Shakespeare moulds the character of Othello in such a way that he speaks almost romantically during confrontation, which dramatically juxtaposes Brabantio's strident, 'Down with him, thief!'. When put on trial, the Duke, (who of course, has a symbolic representation of the moral voice in Venice)

    • Word count: 1205
  13. Marked by a teacher

    Different Interpretations of Key speeches from Othello and Iago in Act 1, scene 3

    3 star(s)

    However Iago is the manipulative, sly man who we know is going to be there be because this is a Shakespearian play. He is clearly jealous of Othello and believes he should be in a better position than he is because of the line, "know my price". He is a very persuasive man, which we see a great deal of in his speech, "put money in they purse" Iago is constantly telling people what to do then making up reasons why to persuade them.

    • Word count: 1622
  14. Marked by a teacher

    Discuss how Iago manipulates language to achieve his aims

    3 star(s)

    in a manner that is often very aggressive and insulting. In the Arden edition, this passage consists of several lengthy sentences; his manipulation of their structure reflects cunning nature that he possesses. It suggests that it is Iago's train of thought and as the prolonged sentences unfold, the intensity of his feeling builds to climax at the lines 66-7. He makes use of the now clich´┐Ż 'But I will wear my heart on my sleeve' to convey how both his heart and his show of emotions are false by adding a sinister edge of 'for daws to peck at'.

    • Word count: 2291
  15. Peer reviewed

    To what extent does Iago contribute to the tragedy of Othello?

    4 star(s)

    This motive reinforces Coleridge's view of 'motiveless malignity' for Iago 'know[s] not if't be true'. Seemingly, however, Iago has a drive fuelled by jealousy and greed. Iago's witty, strong orchestration of events conveys a sense of the formidabile to the audience. Iago's masterful handling renders further hatred from the audience; the heroic qualities of wit and subtlety attributed to a deceiving villain. The pivotal Act III, Scene iii, explores Iago's orchestration, and how Othello descends into madness; from love to jealousy.

    • Word count: 1309
  16. Peer reviewed

    To what extent does language reflect the disintegration of Othellos character?

    4 star(s)

    appetite, / Nor to comply with heat the young affects / In my distinct and proper satisfaction, / But to be free and bounteous to her mind' (Act1,3,258). Here Othello is announcing his respect for Desdemona's wishes is what motivates him and he puts his wife's needs before his own. Othello's use of heavenly imagery also helps to show his genuine love towards his wife, 'It gives me wonder great as my content / To see you here before me.

    • Word count: 1330
  17. Peer reviewed

    In what ways does Shakespeare present Othello as a typical tragic hero?

    3 star(s)

    In Shakespearian times when few would have travelled, those who had been to other countries were respected and admired. 'Valiant Othello' commands the respect of other respected figures (the Duke of Venice, Montano). It is hinted that he is also of royal descent. He also has the virtues of being calm in the face of adversity, such as when he is told by Iago that Brabantio could have him dismissed he simply says in his first entrance onstage,"Tis better as it is." The use of his "Not I" passive syntax also shows him as capable of controlling his emotions.

    • Word count: 1627
  18. Peer reviewed

    Explain how Iago has effected the transformation of Othello from heroic lover to brutal murderer in 3.3. How is Othello's transformation conveyed to the audience?

    3 star(s)

    'beast' that needs to be 'tame[d],' with the implication here being one of an intense and turbulent relationship between the two - foreshadowing the theatrical and dramatic turbulence that is to occur. Here, she 'intermingles' politics and war with that of the domestic environment - an environment that Othello cannot fully control - thus she blurs the boundaries between the two, setting up, though quite subtly, the dichotomy between appearance versus reality: this division only echoing the reduction that is to occur in Othello who wrestles with such dichotomies, caught between a world of divided themes.

    • Word count: 796
  19. Jealousy in Othello

    He displays this jealousy from the very beginning of the play and spawns plots for revenge because of this. Iago feels jealousy towards Othello because he had given the role of lieutenant to Michael Cassio. Michael Cassio was much less qualified than him but even so, he had attained the position. Another reason for Iago being jealous towards Othello is because he had a suspicion that Othello had slept with his wife Emilia. Iago expresses "And it is thought abroad that 'twixt my sheets/He's done my office"(I.iii.380-381).This insecurity and jealousy he feels leads him to commit acts of revenge.

    • Word count: 455
  20. How does Othellos character change over the course of the play?

    Othello was written around 1603, racism was ripe, racism was accustomed and Othello knew this. Marrying a white woman and becoming a General was seen as bizarre for a Black man to accomplish. People would naturally become hostile, "thick lips", and Othello would naturally be suspicious of his surroundings. Growing up in a white dominated society, maybe Othello felt some compassion to break away from the ideology that all Black people are inferior. So locked away in his mind he always knew he would be the 'outsider', his mind is like a dam, jealousy and resentment are blocked by the

    • Word count: 1589
  21. What advice would you give to an actor playing Othello?

    However, From Act Scene 3, Othello changes dramatically by the works of Iago. His speech becomes confused and his actions not something Othello would do. An actor would need to show passion in loving Desdemona but a determination in wanting to kill her at the same time, because there's a constant battle between love and hate in Othello, "O balmy breath, that dost almost persuade", even towards the end of the play, Othello still cannot bring himself to killing Desdemona. This battle is key to playing a successful Othello as it shows the swift transformation that Iago has activated.

    • Word count: 880
  22. Is Iago the real hero in Shakespeares Othello?

    Iago is not the type of hero described in the ancient philosopher Aristotle' works. He is more like a hero the audience can relate to, and the focus of the story. After all Iago has 1097 lines whereas Othello only has 274. A lack of lines and a focus as a main character is not the only thing that Othello lacks. In a historical context, an Elizabethan era audience would be more sympathetic and supportive of Iago than Othello. This doesn't mean that the audience was racist. It is simply the fact that Iago is a character the audience could relate to whereas Othello represents the unknown.

    • Word count: 1235
  23. Othello Recreative: Desdemona

    Let nobody blame him; his scorn I approve- No, scorn is not the welcome word Rightful impatience at my incompetence? Violence for my innocence? No. The verse is not mine, nor Barbary's Yet any action issued by my lord Is surely wholly justified. But what is this odd spell about him? I called my love false love, but what said he then? Sing willow, willow, willow: O Lord, Lord, Lord! Lie with me, lie with me, dost thou remember these sheets?

    • Word count: 1019
  24. She is vital to her husband: in losing her, he loses himself. By exploring ways in which relationship between Desdemona and Othello is presented evaluate this view.

    When the suggestion is first coined by Iago, Othello laughs it off and asks for 'occular proof', he trusts his wife, however 100 lines later he calls her a 'lewd minx', here we see how language is used by Shakespeare as a voice for Othello's own insecurities. At the beginning of the play Desdemona is described as Othello's 'fair lady' yet as the play reaches its end in act four, and Iago's manipulation fully takes over Othello, he describes her as a 'devil'.

    • Word count: 1024
  25. By considering the dramatic effects of Othello, evaluate the view that the play constantly questions ideas of heroism and nobility.

    to have lied in the past, coupled with the venetian stereotype of women being promiscuous prostitutes, some critics have blamed Desdemona for her demise, however, others like Estelle Taylor have deemed her a 'heroine who is a victim of abuse'. One interpretation of this could be that an audience would happily perceive Desdemona to be a heroine because of her nobility and class and not because of her actions. On the other hand, Desdemona does display the qualities of a heroine within some scenes of the play, she stands up to her father and displays a heroic confidence in her relationship with Othello, 'I may profess Due to the Moor my lord.'

    • Word count: 932

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • To what extent do you believe that Othello is an honourable murderer?

    "Overall, it is clear to the audience that Othello is viewed as an honourable man before the murder. The extent to which he is still viewed as honourable after his crime is somewhat clouded by the characters discovery of the villainous nature of Iago but it is fair to say that their perception of Othello has been greatly altered. This means that contextually, Othello was probably not an 'honourable murderer', although there are other factors such as his race and 'outsider' status to be taken into consideration. In my opinion, although his remorse acts in his favour, I do not believe that Othello is an honourable murderer. The ease of his manipulation and little to no attempt of finding the truth makes it hard for an audience to see him as an honourable character. Even though the murder of Desdemona was unjust, I would still argue that to some extent Othello could be described as an honourable murder, simply for his suicide which, in the manner of an eye for an eye, seems fair punishment."

  • Discuss Iagos manipulation of Othellos thoughts in this scene (up to line 280). Your discussion will need to include a careful look at Othellos response to Iagos manipulation, and a look at jealousy

    "In conclusion, Iago has thoroughly thought out his manipulation of Othello. He cleverly tricks him into thinking Desdemona is having an affair. He sets Othello into different kind of emotions including uncertainty, insecurity and the most destructive one is jealousy. Othello seems to crack and become exceedingly jealous as Iago deliberately messes with his head and causes him to become doubtful of Desdemona's faithfulness. The play follows the traditional five act Shakespearian play, and each builds up in the decline of Othello. Overall, Othello is a completely different man at the end of Act 3, as Iago has torn him apart and making him a much more jealous and suspicious character, which is ironic as Iago was originally the jealously one, now the role reversal between them both shows how tricks on the mind can dominate a person."

  • To what extent is Othello presented as a tragic hero in Act 1 of Othello. Refer to context, concepts of the tragic hero, other tragedies and critical interpretations

    "The socio-historical context with Macbeths is important as they interlink and you can come to a conclusion about both of them. From both, Othello and Macbeth, it shows Shakespeare is interested in deception; at the start of Macbeth, the tragic hero is characterised by Iago, and at the start of Macbeth by the witches. It seems as though Shakespeare is allowing us too see different perceptions, through women (witches) and men (Iago and roderigo). Lady Macbeth is almost a mirror image of Iago in a distorted way as they both drive to manipulate; Lady Macbeth manipulated Macbeth to go kill the king. Shakespeare questions whether we should break the convention of "men before women" or not, as both are corrupted and delusional and both play a part in the tragedy of the "tragic hero""

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