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How does the imagery used in lines 49-92 in Act 4, scene 1 of Othello contribute to the meaning and relationship between the two characters.

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Introduction

HOW DOES THE IMAGERY USED IN LINES 49-92 IN ACT 4, SCENE 1 OF OTHELLO CONTRIBUTE TO THE MEANING AND RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE TWO CHARACTERS Act 4, Scene 1 once again sees Iago driving Othello into a fury through mere insinuation, so much so in fact that he falls into a trance of rage. Seizing his opportunity, Iago calls in Cassio and, after he has regained his senses, Othello hides and watches them converse, duped into believing that Cassio is talking about Desdemona when he in fact is talking about his relationship with Bianca. Incensed by this, Othello is once again driven to a murderous rage and swears to kill his wife. However, it is the imagery in this scene that helps to illustrate the way in which Iago now has control over Othello. In Line 49, Othello is in a trance as Cassio and Iago rush to tend him. ...read more.

Middle

It is immediately obvious to Othello though who he is talking about, as Iago uses the image of a courteous, city dwelling man, rather an oxymoron when used with "monster" but still implying Cassio who has by now symbolically become Othello's demon. Iago continues to subtly allude to Cassio while advising him, talking of "bearded fellows" which again signifies Cassio who we know has a beard (3.3.442). He is constantly returning to him as the cause of Othello's troubles which is in itself an irony as now Cassio has become the same figure of hatred to Othello as he is to Iago. Yet, perhaps a greater irony is Iago's referral to "the arch-fiend's mock" (4.1.70) when he himself is the "arch-fiend" which he portrays, yet all the while he is drawing Othello closer into his grasp - this being affirmed when he says "O, thou art wise, 'tis certain." (4.1.74). ...read more.

Conclusion

However this statement is ambiguous in what it implies - it is not clear at this point who will be killed yet, with hindsight it is conceivable to assume that it is deliberately alluding to Othello's own death at the end of the play, continuing the image as the tragic hero of the play. The imagery which both characters use in this segment of the play signifies the point in which their relationship changes - Iago is now totally in control of Othello and, rather paradoxically, in Othello's eyes, this conversation draws them together as he still sees Iago as his closest and truest friend. The "meaning" between has changed to the point where both have what they want at this time - Iago has Othello by the hand and Othello is assured that he has a true companion in his nightmarish situation. From this point onwards it is how these two characters play off each other which will decide the outcome of the play itself - nobody is now in a position to influence either from his course. ...read more.

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