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To what Extent does Shakespeares Language Establish the Heroic Nature of Othello and the Power of his Love for Desdemona in the First Two Acts of the Play?

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Introduction

To what Extent does Shakespeare's Language Establish the Heroic Nature of Othello and the Power of his Love for Desdemona in the First Two Acts of the Play? The audience, having been introduced to Othello by Iago's 'motiveless malignity,'1 expects this man to be professionally 'bombast' and animalistic. In fact Othello is not named until the third scene, thus dramatising his blackness and bestiality. However this preconception of Othello is immediately undone when he successfully calms the angry Brabantio and satisfies the suspicious Duke and Senators. Othello's heroic nature cannot be doubted due to the solidity of his character in the first two acts of the play; as Rebecca Warren notes, 'Othello possesses a mythical and monumental quality that cannot be denied; he speaks and acts powerfully in a way that inspires confidence in his character.'2 This essay will explore the extent to which Othello's heroism is interdependent with his love for Desdemona, and what implications this dependency will have on the power of both. Othello's first action in the play is to convince Brabantio, the Duke and the Senators that he genuinely loves Desdemona, not that he has used 'mixtures,' a 'dram' or a 'practice of cunning hell' to seduce her. ...read more.

Middle

Achilles risked an early death to transcend mortality's ephemeral existence through being poeticised, just as Othello poeticises himself in order to transcend the societal limitations of his love and the baseness of language from the likes of Brabantio and Iago; 'my services...shall out tongue his complaints...for know, Iago, but that I love the gentle Desdemona.' Othello wilfully entwines his political and military identity with his love for Desdemona, thus risking both for what may be an attempt at the poetic remembrance which Achilles sought; an action both heroic and loving in its own right. This essay will also explore the implications of Othello's self-poeticisation. Therefore, as Othello comes to embody heroism and unconditional (and unconventional) love, his relationship is viewed by others to be the marriage between these two qualities, 'She that I spake of, our great captain's captain.' Cassio refers to their love in military terms, on the one hand showing how much Othello respects Desdemona, whilst also giving him the heroic characteristic of being a 'great captain.' Shakespeare then uses linguistic and stage devices to portray the power of Othello's love for Desdemona later in Act 2 Scene 1, 'O my fair warrior,' 'My dear Othello!' ...read more.

Conclusion

However, it is also a result of Othello's heroism that the tragedy is set in motion, as Desdemona's reverence of Othello allows Shakespeare to reduce her from an archetype to a passive victim, subject to his form of justice just like all his other subordinates (such as Cassio). Othello's heroism even compels Desdemona to encourage the audience to forgive him, moments before her death, 'A guiltless death I die...commend me to my kind lord.' The interdependence between heroism and love is very interesting in the context of this tragedy. Othello concludes that to destroy Desdemona, he must also destroy himself because his identity and his love have become inextricably linked. However, the final kisses of the play prove that he never succeeded in destroying his love. This is the true indication of heroism; although Othello dies, the love he represents survives. Therefore he embodies the idea that poetry is part of love, thus achieving Achilles' poetic remembrance. 1 A note written by Coleridge in his copy of Shakespeare whilst preparing lectures 2 Advanced York Notes on Othello 3 George Chapman, Shakespeare's contemporary, began translating the Iliad in 1598, and Othello is believed to have been written in 1603 4 The second syllable in each iambic foot (denoted by a '|') is clearly stressed ?? ?? ?? ?? Jonathan Inglis Othello's heroic nature and love for Desdemona 1 ...read more.

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