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'Othello portrays a world that has the same conviction as our own: that stupidity is more destructive than evil'. How far do you find this an acceptable view of Shakespeare's tragedy? Examine two relevant extracts.

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Introduction

'Othello portrays a world that has the same conviction as our own: that stupidity is more destructive than evil'. How far do you find this an acceptable view of Shakespeare's tragedy? Examine two relevant extracts. Both themes of evil and stupidity are evident in most of Shakespeare's plays, especially so in Othello. However, it is difficult to say whether stupidity is more destructive than evil. Iago uses evil to fulfil his wants, but it may not have happened so easily without stupidity. The first example of stupidity is shown in 2:3. Cassio's drunkenness leads him to stupidity. Cassio states that Desdemona "is a most exquisite lady" and that "she is a most fresh and delicate creature." This in itself shows stupidity as he Cassio is giving Iago ammunition so to speak to use against Othello; the fact that he fancies Desdemona. Iago joins in his thoughts and begins questioning him stating: "And when she speaks, is it not an alarum to love?" Cassio replies with: "She is indeed perfection." Iago is putting words into Cassio's mouth, and this is before Cassio has had anything to drink. Cassio is showing his stupidity at not being able to keep his feelings to himself; his feelings about his general's wife. In Elizabethan times, thoughts like these were considered incest and sinful and were usually punishable by death if discovered. ...read more.

Middle

This is shown by Montano's statement: "It were well/The General were put in mind of it:/Perhaps he sees it not, or his good nature/Prizes the virtue that appears in Cassio/And looks not on his evils. Is not this true?" Iago sends Roderigo after Cassio knowing full well that neither of them get on well together and in Cassio's drunken state this is bound to cause trouble, which it does as Cassio hits Roderigo. This is exactly what Iago had hoped for in order to achieve his goal of obtaining Cassio's position. Iago then states: "I do love Cassio well and would do much/To cure him of this evil." Iago is in fact the evil one as he has manipulated Cassio so much so as to persuade him to drink too much so that the nobles and Othello would view him badly and cause further trouble for him in the future. Cassio does not have evil, just stupidity. If Cassio had not been so stupid in his drunken state, Iago could not have used him in his plot against Othello. This leads on to Othello's stupidity. From 3:3 onwards, the audience see Othello's stupidity unfold; the stupidity of listening to Iago's lies and deceitfulness. However, we also see the ever darkening, evil thoughts of Iago. Iago uses Cassio to make Othello jealous and revengeful towards both Cassio and his wife. ...read more.

Conclusion

He is stupid as he has allowed himself to be in this situation. Othello then smothers Desdemona which is not only evil as he has killed an innocent woman, but it is also a stupid and a coward's way out of a situation, he should have talked to Desdemona as that is what people who love each other are supposed to do. Othello realises his stupidity when Emilia tells him that he's been taken for a fool by Iago and that he's been manipulated by him. It is after this that he kills himself, to rid himself of his stupidity and sins. He realises that he has lost his own self pride because of Iago. In Elizabethan times, the 'fool' commonly conducts an interaction between himself and a person who society defines as wise by acting stupid and cunning at the same time, an interaction which would always end in the fool winning in this uneven matching of wits. The fool constantly questions our perceptions of wisdom and truth and their relationship to everyday experience. In Othello, Iago could be seen as the 'fool' character as he has a subtextual connotation of evil and pretends stupidity. He also opposes Othello, the seemingly wise and holy man. Othello could be seen as the other character that the fool interacts with, the man that seems wise but that uses stupidity and cunningness at the same time. Othello's stupidity let Iago win his battle of wits and manipulation. Therefore the statement is very acceptable. The resulting acts of evil could not have occurred without the stupidity of the characters. ...read more.

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