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How far do you support each of the following views about the soliloquies in Othello?

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Introduction

How far do you support each of the following views about the soliloquies in Othello? 1. "Audiences today think that the soliloquy is an outdated and embarrassing device." 2. "It is the soliloquy that gives Shakespeare and his actor a stranglehold on their audiences. It raises tension and creates an intimacy between actor and audience." Soliloquy is a stage device which can be found throughout the works of many modern day playwrights, and is famously used by Shakespeare in his theatrical tragedy, "Othello." We see at many key moments, both the lead roles of Othello and Iago, speak when no other characters are present or listening, revealing their inner most thoughts to the audience, illuminating their private intentions and allowing them to evaluate what their actions have already accomplished, without offering the other characters the chance to learn what they are really like. Some critics express the opinion that modern audiences find that soliloquy is often 'outdated' and 'embarrassing.' In a time of film, where facial close-ups and various other informative techniques can be adopted to reveal characters inner-most thoughts and emotions, the soliloquy in contrast is delivered in neither a subtle or particularly complex manner. ...read more.

Middle

'For that I do suspect the lusty Moor, Hath leaped into my seat.' It is only as the play develops and we see both Othello and Emilia together showing no sexual interest in one another at all, that we begin to doubt Iago's reasoning and get a deeper sense of his unprovoked malevolence. Through soliloquy Shakespeare subtly presents the twisted nature of his villain and there is little 'embarrassing' about the way he approaches this. Other critics are more complimentary about Shakespeare's use of soliloquy, claiming that its usage gives Shakespeare and his actor a strange-hold on their audience, raising tension and creating an intimacy between actor and audience. Shakespeare is able to invite the audience into the minds of both Iago and Othello through soliloquy, and through his use of language and imagery can depict in great force the state of their minds to the audience, writhing up tension and atmosphere. One of Othello's most prominent soliloquies sees him wrestling with a number of conclusions, wavering between believing Iago and trusting his wife, his uncertainty reflected in the imagery Shakespeare uses. ...read more.

Conclusion

The intense sense of the unknown which is conjured up here adds a lot to the drama of the play, throwing around all possibilities at what could happen, very much 'raising the tension.' Soliloquy is still a prominent part of modern day theatre, whether the individual audience members appreciate it or not. It cannot be denied that by sharing such open access to the thoughts of each of the characters one does achieve a valuable sense of intimacy between the actor and the audience which can then be manipulated through language to arouse tension and gain an effective 'strange-hold' upon the audience. If used correctly, as Shakespeare does, without having the characters simply state what they are feeling but, through imagery, show the audience just how they are feeling via the language they use, then the soliloquy cannot cause embarrassment. The soliloquy shall never be outdated with regards to performance on the stage, as the playwright has no other choice than to have the characters tell you what is on their minds. There is no space or means for any other nature of access to the characters private thoughts, intent or emotion. All in all, it's effectiveness all depends on its delivery, and this is something that Shakespeare mastered. ...read more.

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