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Many people feel that Othello reaches the depths of humiliation and degradation in Act IV

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Many people feel that Othello reaches the depths of humiliation and degradation in Act IV. * Consider his eavesdropping on Cassio, intimidation of Emilia and striking of Desdemona. * Discuss Shakespeare's presentation of Othello as a tragic hero. Act IV is a crucial scene in the play Othello. It is the first time that we see Othello himself physically and mentally damaged from the constant manipulation by Iago, as he first suffers a mental breakdown and then goes on to strike Desdemona. These actions could be considered not just surprising but also, in the case of the striking of his wife, immoral. In terms of whether or not we feel sympathy for Othello in this Act, while he may gain our support when he has a mental fit, as we can see the full effects of Iago's constant manipulation of him, he loses a significant amount of audience support in physically attacking Desdemona, as hitting a woman was and still is considered morally wrong. However, to what extent is Othello humiliated and degraded in Act IV? Once convinced by Iago that his wife is a whore, cheating on him, Othello goes to extreme lengths to try and gain revenge on her. ...read more.


Having recovered, Othello eavesdrops on Iago's conversation with Cassio, and becomes even more infuriated at what he hears. Again it is down to Iago's skill that Othello is able to be deceived here - he tells the audience that he is going to ask Cassio not about Desdemona but about Bianca, a prostitute who adores Cassio - 'Now will I question Cassio of Bianca'. Iago knows that the onlooking Othello will believe that Cassio is talking about Desdemona - 'Othello shall go mad'. Everything goes according to plan for Iago. Othello becomes more and more enraged at what he is hearing - 'Now he tells how she plucked him to my chamber./O, I see that nose of yours, but not that dog I shall throw it to!' - until eventually, once Cassio has left, Othello reemerges with the words 'How shall I murder him, Iago?'. This sentence obviously delights Iago, for two reasons - it proves that he has achieved his goal of getting Cassio out of favour with Othello, and it again reinforces the stranglehold he has on Othello, that Othello is even asking Iago how to carry out the murder, as he trusts him so. ...read more.


There appears to be an argument for this case, too - jealousy would appear to be Othello's 'tragic flaw' if he were to be classified as a 'tragic hero', as it is a key factor in Othello's mindset and decisions he makes. His jealousy of Cassio means it is all the more easier for Iago to exploit Othello - as Iago recognises this flaw too. Act IV proves to be a possible turning point in how much sympathy we feel for Othello as the audience. Prior to this Act, we were feeling a significantly greater deal of support for him than we do afterwards, mainly down to his degrading and humiliating actions in falling metaphorically and physically to Iago's feet, eavesdropping on Cassio and striking of Desdemona. We are presented with the idea of Othello as a 'tragic hero', whose 'tragic flaw', jealousy, is accountable for his actions, rather than his manipulation by Iago, but it is down to which we agree with. It could be argued either way, or a more likely reason for Othello's degrading actions in the Act could be a combination of the two, suggesting that without Othello's 'tragic flaw' jealousy it wouldn't be so easy for Iago to manipulate him as he pleases. ?? ?? ?? ?? Daniel Smith 12B ...read more.

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