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

Drama: Othello Long Essay

Extracts from this document...


Drama: Othello Long Essay The structure of Othello is rendered less complicated than is usual in Shakespeare by the fact that there is no effective subplot. The only contender for this role - Roderigo's hopeless passion for Desdemona and Iago's attempts to turn this passion to his own advantage - is absorbed into the mainstream of the action by the virtue of Iago's role in the play. In a sense the entire structure in terms of action is focused on the ensign, who initiates everything of significance, while the psychological weight of the play lies with Othello. The general's only two deeds of any note are his victory over the Turks, which is peripheral to the main action and largely achieved by the agency of the storm; and the murder of Desdemona, which is carried out by Othello, but instigated by Iago. Othello cannot be said to will either of these events. In other words, Iago acts while Othello reacts. It is partly this situation that helps to give the play its claustrophobic quality, as we watch Othello becoming increasing helpless in a web of Iago's spinning. Bu the claustrophobia also results from the concentration of the structure. This is to some extent the result of Shakespeare's plot treatment; it also owes a good deal to his presentation of relationships. ...read more.


We can therefore refer more usefully to the structure of the play by thinking in terms of the stages through which Othello and Imago develop. In Act 1 Othello carries all before him: he has married Desdemona, outfaced objections to the marriage, and found himself leading the Venetian fleet against the Turks by acclamation of the people. Imago is the underdog, beginning to hatch his plots. A hint of the changes to come is given by the framing of Othello's appearances in the first act by two lengthy conversations between Imago and Rodrigo at the beginning and end. While the general has heroic presence, Imago has more to say, and his intimate manner and grim jocularity bring him closer to the audience at first than the grand remote Othello - whose very blackness sets him apart. In this conversation between Imago and Rodrigo, we find that the relationship between them is obviously somewhat close, as Rodrigo shows in his first statement. Imago "hast had [Rodrigo's] purse as if the strings were thine," he tells Imago; the metaphor shows how much trust Rodrigo has in Imago, and also how he uses Imago as a confidante. As far as Rodrigo knows, Imago is his friend: but appearance is one thing and reality another, as Imago soon will tell. ...read more.


It is in Act 3 Scene 3 that the crucial reversal of their positions takes place: Iago establishes his mastery and Othello becomes the underdog. Structurally this is the central scene: appropriately it is the longest, most complex and subtle in the play. Here Shakespeare shows us what Cinthio does not: how Iago manages to persuade Othello that his lies are truth. The rest of the play presents the working out of Iago's plot and Othello's continuing mental and spiritual deterioration, until the final climatic scene (Act 5 Scene 2) provides a structural balance with Act 3 Scene 3. Whereas the earlier scene shows the mystification of Othello and the darkening of his mind, Act 5 Scene 2 does the opposite. We witness the agonising coming to terms of the hero with a truth he has never suspected. Act 3 Scene 3 and Act 5 Scene 2 have a corresponding intensity and weight. In each we explore the recesses of the hero's mind and witness the torture he experiences when torn between love and hate, trust and suspicion; each concentrates on the ambiguous nature of sexual passion. When seen in terms of Othello's development and his waxing relationship with Iago the play falls into three stages: Othello's prosperity; Othello's mystification: Othello's enlightenment and catastrophe. These three stages are matched by the stages of Iago's inferiority; Iago's dominance; Iago's discovery and downfall. They indicate the broad structural outline of the play. ...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. Peer reviewed

    What is the significance of Iagos Soliloquies in Othello?

    3 star(s)

    Iago reveals that he will tell Othello that Cassio "is too familiar with his wife." This will start to make Othello jealous and suspicious. As Iago pretends to be friends with Othello, he easily believes the lies. This emphasises how manipulating Iago is.

  2. Othello Essay

    as this is also an expected reaction, this makes the scene seem more realistic, as we see that Othello does not immediately doubt his wife on Iago's words, but when Othello gets proof he believes Iago. During this scene Iago uses his knowledge of Othello's insecurities and reputation to convince Othello of an affair.

  1. Othello Essay

    Iago believes that he himself should have been offered the job and is furious. "One Michael Cassio, a Florentine, That never set a squadron in the field, nor the devision of a battle knows, unless the bookish theoric." This is a great example of Iago's jealousy and shows us how angry he is over Cassio's promotion.

  2. Is it essential to the development of the play's tragic situation that Othello and ...

    controll of the whole island and yet, he can't even control his own jealous, and lets it lead him to murder. The change in setting between Venice and Cyprus is important in conveying the vhange in Othello and Iago. Venice is associate with all things cultutred and sophisticated.

  1. Othello essay.

    Iago says 'I'll pour this pestilence into his ear' in the soliloquy I think the writer used the metaphor because it is effective because Iago says lies and lies are like a disease or poison which shows how his lies are to ruin Othello.

  2. In What way is the “war like moor” flawed?Trace the stages of his demise ...

    This shows how Othello really is, respected and how Iago is the only person to see Othello as evil. Iago is blinded by his desire for revenge. There are further contrasts within the play with Desdemona being pure and Bianca being a "strumpet".

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