• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

At the start of the play Othello is presented as a very confident character. He is a high ranking general in the Venetian army. However during the course of the play Othello is betrayed and manipulated by Iago, and the audience observes the unravelli...

Extracts from this document...


At the start of the play Othello is presented as a very confident character. He is a high ranking general in the Venetian army. However during the course of the play Othello is betrayed and manipulated by Iago, and the audience observes the unravelling of his tragic flaw (jealousy) which initiates the degeneration of his character into obsession, jealousy, insanity, anger and ultimately suicide. In this essay I will demonstrate how Shakespeare presents this development to the audience, and why he chooses to do it in the way he does. To carry this task out I will initially give a brief summary of the plot of the tragedy Othello. The general marries Desdemona in secret, Iago learns of this and reports this news to Brabantio who uncomforted by the news. Then Othello, Desdemona, Iago, Cassio and Roderigo travel to Cyprus as there is threatened invasion. Just before they travel to Cyprus Iago exclaims he wants to seek revenge on Othello as the promotion to lieutenant given to Cassio. Iago decides to exploit the relationship between Othello and Desdemona. He does this by manipulating Othello into believing that Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio. To a Jacobean audience an affair was a dreadful crime and was by no way accepted in people's opinions as it to day. Iago to further tamper with Othello's thoughts gains possession of a present, which the moor had gifted to Desdemona which was a handkerchief. ...read more.


How he reacts to Iago shows a change in his personality. There is a shift in power or a role reversal occurs. Othello becomes increasingly dependent on Iago who is controlling his thoughts. Othello's short sharp questions convey his increasing doubt and confusion regarding Desdemona. "What dost thou think?" and "why of thy thought, Iago?" Othello's questions here convey his increasing turmoil and doubt. By act 4 scene 1, Othello's character has undergone a complete transformation. He has a fit and becomes insane. Shakespeare shows this to his audience in his language. He is rambling and anxious and looses his dignity as he falls into a trance. His language shows he is confused and agitated. He repeats himself "Lie on her, lie on her and lie on her" "Confess, confess, and confess" "Handkerchief, handkerchief and handkerchief" Overall in this scene the language used by Othello gives the effect of escalating violence, increasingly aggressive and jealous thoughts conveyed through images of poison, decay, and jealousy. Othello makes his murderous intentions known "Get me some poison Iago" This is a metaphor, jealousy is a poison. Othello says of Desdemona "Let her rot, perish" Regarding his jealousy "As if there is some monster in his thoughts too hideous to be shown" This has the effect of making the audience think of danger, evil and violence. ...read more.


It is the visual, physical proof of Desdemona's infidelity for Othello, but obviously not to the audience who know the truth. The handkerchief is the dramatic device that causes Desdemona to be seen as guilty and untruthful in Othello's mind. The moor's reaction to the handkerchief falling into a trance is a good dramatic device both visually on stage and in displaying the contrast between Othello at the start of the play and Othello now. Its sudden onset would undoubtedly shock the audience. The General's incoherent would also be disturbing, indicating his change in character to the audience to someone who is jealous, insecure, unconfident, unsure and manipulated. In conclusion Shakespeare uses a variety of techniques to present the development of Othello's character in the play Othello. In particular the dramatic devices those that are visual and the use of language that chart the downfall of Othello's character from a respected general to a rambling jealous murderer who commits suicide are most effective. Shakespeare builds up tension and intrigue in the dramatic structure of the play and the intricate plot, which includes affairs, infidelity murder and betrayal would certainly have invoked an outraged response from the Jacobean audience. I feel that Shakespeare still admirably succeeds in both entertaining and possibly shocking a modern day Christian audience. How does Shakespeare present the development of Othello's character to the audience? Dominic Law Page1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Othello section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Othello essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    How and why does Othello's character change during the course of the play? How ...

    4 star(s)

    When Desdemona proves that Othello's love is genuine, the senators take into account that he spoke the truth and he shows his honesty and may well believe him again. The Moor is the sort of person who sets a good example and never falters in front of respected people.

  2. How and why does Othello's language change over the course of the Play?

    The rest of the speech is used to show that Desdemona was indeed spellbound but from the story of Othello's life rather than any magic. He ends triumphantly by rejecting Brabantio's charge with the two lines "This only is the witchcraft I have used: Here comes the lady; let her witness it."


    At the time of Shakespeare, the experience of theatre was hugely different to modern theatres. One obvious difference is the usage of props and special effects. Shakespearean theatre used fewer. The audience at that time were quite restless at times so Shakespeare gradually opened the scene by stating the situation

  2. How does Othello's character change from the beginning of the play to the end ...

    This shows Othello as being strong and also shows Iago as the villain. In Act 1 Scene 3 Othello is seen in the play to be well respected by the community, confirming the audience's belief in scene 2, as the Duke becomes sceptical when it is accused that Othello has used witchcraft against Desdemona in order to seduce her.

  1. How does Shakespeare create the character of 'Othello' in Act 1 and how is ...

    Iago keeps talking about the marriage between the Othello and Desdemona. Shakespeare has Iago using a series of derogatory metaphors, which reflect his attitude, possibly, the attitude of war of Venetians, to race , social class and citizenship during the era of his writing.

  2. Does the character of Othello change in the course of the play?

    also his well-tempered manner: "Keep up your bright swords, for dew will rust them." (Act I Scene ii 59). There is a notable change in Othello's speech through the course of the play, for once Iago's lies are said and Othello's jealousy sparked, his speech becomes more violent and broken up.

  1. How Desdemona is presented as acharacter and perceived by others in Othello.

    What tiding can you tell me of my Lord?' This shows her concern for Othello's safety and changes the subject straight away to reflect her urge to know how he is. Her character is presented as a loyal wife to Othello, and shows her thoughts are with him when they are not together.

  2. How was Othello(TM)s and Desdemona(TM)s relationship doomed from the start?

    This is because he uses trust as a key to Othello's and Desdemona's downfall. By gaining Othello's trust he can "abuse Othello's ear" with lies by manipulating him to do actions that went against his graciousness, such as murdering Desdemona.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work