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(THIS IN OURSELVES THAT WE ARE THUS OR THUS) IS THE STORY OF OTHELLO ONE OF TRANSFORMATION OR EXPOSURE?

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Introduction

("THIS IN OURSELVES THAT WE ARE THUS OR THUS") IS THE STORY OF OTHELLO ONE OF TRANSFORMATION OR EXPOSURE? According to Aristotle's views a tragic hero is consistent and therefore should not be subject to sudden change if it does not contribute to the story or if it is not clearly motivated. If Othello is a tragic hero by Aristotle's definition then character must be exposed rather than transformed by Shakespeare. Arguing that the story of Othello is a transformation would contradict Aristotle's belief of consistency. In Act III, scene iii when Othello says 'I'll tear her with all to pieces!" The usage of brutal metaphor, animalistic and hyperbolic language portrays his aggressive character. Furthermore, exclamation underlines the dramatic tone and his seriousness. Through the use of those techniques Shakespeare manifestly exaggerates the brutality of Othello. This gives us the impression of Shakespeare's racism in that the aim of this tragedy might be to convince its audience to have a negative view about the black race. Therefore, the way that Othello humiliates Desdemona through slapping her in front of other characters is inevitable because it is something than Elizabethans would expect. ...read more.

Middle

The usage of animalistic imagery and sexually brutal metaphors clearly suggests that Othello does not enjoy positive attitudes and respect from other characters. Secondly, in Act I, scene III Othello is presented as a well-respected man heavily experienced by his previous struggles as he refers to 'disastrous chances', 'moving accidents' and 'hair-breadth scapes'. It is important to point out that Othello tells a synecdoche using exaggerations and personifications such as 'insolent foe' and 'moving accidents by flood and field' to make sure that the listeners fully acknowledged his courage. This technique is common for Greek tragedies such as 'Oedipus Rex' and other Shakespeare's tragedies such as 'Hamlet' to display events that do not happen in the play directly but revealed by particular characters in their speeches or dialogues. This also rapidly changes our view about Othello. His confidence and high rank as well as his previous experiences hardly affect on the fact that we become to see him as an impressive character. Conversely, Othello lacks in confidence and presents insecurity about his race in one of his very first speeches when he clearly undermines his orator skills ('Rude am I in my speech'). ...read more.

Conclusion

Some might believe that people change by the impact of environment or influence of other characters. However, early presented factors such as Othello's insecurity and the issue of black race need to be considered. This creates the dilemma concerning the time of Othello's possible transformation. Indeed, Othello's reaction on Desdemona's apparent affair was suspiciously quick and that exposure builds quickly whereas transformation takes longer. The final piece of evidence that this is a story of exposure is placed in Othello's death speech in act V, scene ii when Othello says 'Of one not easily jealous but, being wrough, perplexed in the extreme'. The dramatic tone of his declamation proves the fact that he feels ashamed of what he has done. Other than that Othello presents himself as a person who has not been previously jealous and someone has turned him to jealousy. Thus he suggests that he sees himself as transformed rather than exposed. However I would argue that this can be seen as an evidence of his exposure as Othello highly regrets his violent behaviour. Furthermore, he commits suicide which simply contradicts the theory of transformation as someone who has been transformed wouldn't regret his actions. Bibliography F.R Leavis `Diabolic Intellect and the Noble Hero(1952), Casebook Series: Shakespeare: Othello(Palgrave: Basingstoke, 1994), ed. John Wain, pp. ...read more.

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