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Examine Othello's character through the key speeches

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Examine Othello's character through the key speeches 'Things that we see are not always the truth ... senses are deceptive, truth is love.' This was Shakespeare's philosophy on life and it, as described by the phrase 'appearance and reality' is a theme in all Shakespearean tragedies. The theme of "Appearance and Reality" creates dramatic irony when things aren't as they seem; this keeps the play interesting even where there is not much physical action. In the case of the tragedy: "Othello", the interest is held by the change in Othello's character throughout the play caused by Iago's meddling. When we first hear him speak in act 1 scene 3, he is a long way from the racially stereotyped witch who won Desdemona "by spells and mountebanks" that Brabantio builds him up to be: he is an eloquent, humble and well educated speaker who speaks in verse and uses many Latinate words. His first speech is in act 1 scene 3 and is a defence of himself to the governors of Venice from Brabantio's charges of abusing and corrupting Desdemona (Brabantio's daughter using "spells and mountebanks". The very first thing that he says "most potent, grave, and reverend signors," shows Othello to be a long way from his stereotype: he begins by complimenting the judges and is calm and controlled in his speech; the long vowel sounds give him an air of authority. ...read more.


Act 3 scene 3 is the pivotal scene of the play and the pivotal line within that is Iago's "Ha! I like not that." Iago says this just after Desdemona and Cassio have been talking, he says it as an aside but Othello is supposed to hear it. It raises the suspicion of Cassio and Desdemona having an affair to Othello. Though he had never thought of this before, after this line Othello can't get the depraved image out of his mind of Desdemona and Cassio. His speech has degraded since act 1; it is not as calm or controlled and it has become broken up as he has lost his mental stability. For example "O, now, for ever, Farewell the tranquil mind! Farewell content!" is broken up with lots of punctuation; as if he can't quite string a sentence together about how he is feeling: a far cry away from his earlier articulacy. He also sees this situation in a strange light: "Farewell the plumed troop and the big wars" suggests that he sees this as more damaging to his own military reputation than to his heart. He is worried that people will see marrying Desdemona as a military error. The final line of his speech is "Farewell! ...read more.


as false. The speech is Othello's anagnorisis i.e. when the hero realises what has happened to him. It is a return to Othello's former elevated speech: he now speaks in verse again and uses long Latinate words like "extenuate" and "malignant", this is a return to how he used to speak as in act 1 scene 3. He does this in an attempt to restore his broken pride and honour: things that we have seen are very important to him, perhaps even more so than Desdemona herself. Even now, Othello is struggling, albeit a struggle inside his own head, to be an insider. This is why he gives the anecdote about killing a Turkish man who beat up a Venetian: "I took by the throat the circumcised dog and smote him - thus". He wants to prove his loyalty to Venice and thus become a part of it, an insider. As in the first speech he tries to be direct and honest in his first speech. However, he is not honest with himself: he calls himself "one not easily jealous, but, being wrought, Perplex'd in the extreme;". In my opinion this is not true: Jealousy was his one weakness as a hero, his hubris. Iago merely fuelled and controlled this flaw to make it work for himself. In the words of T S Eliot, which I agree with, "Iago only feeds Othello enough rope to hang himself". ...read more.

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