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

How important is revenge as a motivating factor in the tragedy of Othello?

Extracts from this document...


How important is revenge as a motivating factor in the tragedy of "Othello"? Revenge tragedies were a continuation of the medieval morality plays which focused on the destructive influence of jealousy. Shakespeare's early play "Titus Andronicus" has revenge as a central theme, where the later Hamlet also uses the process of revenge as a means of protecting the protagonist. "Othello" follows this style to some extent, and one of the main themes is the concept of revenge. Revenge is indeed a motive for Iago's attempt at destroying Othello. Shakespeare introduces the idea of revenge at the start of Act One, in Iago's bitter outburst, "I know my price; I am worth no worse a place," Here, Iago is outraged that Cassio, a "Florentine" and "Great arithmetician", was promoted over himself. Iago uses his sense of justice to scheme against Cassio and Othello. However, this motive becomes less and less substantial throughout the course of the play. This is because even though Cassio is sacked and Iago is made Othello's lieutenant, he continues to scheme against him, which implies that the promotion was not the main motive. Iago's concise, energetic, pragmatic style lends weight to the hatred he professes for Othello. ...read more.


Formed carefully, Iago's plan reveals a Machiavellian intellect, making good use of overheard threats from Brabantio - "Look to her Moor, if thou hast eyes to see, /She has deceived her father, and may thee;" and comments from Othello's own mouth about his "blood" beginning his "safer guides to rule". However, other critics believed that Iago does not have any motives for destroying Othello's life and as suggested by Coleridge the "motive-hunting of motiveless malignity" is Iago's mainspring for revenge. "Demand me nothing. What you know, you know/From this time I never will speak any word." Critics such as F.R. Leavis suggested that Iago is a "necessary piece of dramatic mechanism" designed to wreak havoc. Here, since Iago has been found out and his plan is in ruins, he has no more dishonesty to spread and is therefore dramatically irrelevant for the rest of the play. Since Iago's main function is to spread lies, his usefulness has run out since there are no more lies to spread. In this way Iago is similar to Aaron in "Titus Andronicus" in that they spread havoc for no real purpose, desiring an Old Testament style revenge of equal suffering. ...read more.


However, critics criticized the assertation that Othello is a just executioner since the real reason for Othello's murder is to get revenge on her for sleeping with Cassio. He simply invents the justice reasoning to make himself appear nobler. After having killed Desdemona and discovered that she was not having an affair, Othello then has to avenge Desdemona's death by killing himself. Othello also insists that he did not murder Desdemona out of revenge, but out of love. "Of one that loved not wisely, but too well" Ironically, Othello can only avenge Desdemona's violent death by his own violent death. He insists that he did not murder Desdemona out of revenge, but because she was supposedly in love with Cassio, and he wanted her for himself. However, T.S. Elliot criticizes this view, questioning whether Othello had really learnt from the events. He believed that Othello was simply "cheering himself up" by insisting that he didn't murder out of revenge, but out of love. In conclusion, despite his protestations, Othello does murder Desdemona out of revenge against her supposed affair and, with the discovery of the handkerchief, violently kills himself. However Iago's primary motive isn't revenge since Iago's main role is to play the tragic villain and doesn't need a motive to ruin people's lives. ...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 Miscellaneous 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 Miscellaneous essays

  1. How is Shylock presented in Act IV Scene I in The Merchant of Venice?

    A modern audience would describe Shylock as a tragic figure at the end of this scene as he has nothing left to live for; his daughter has ran away and left him, his entire wealth is being given to his son-in-law and daughter when he dies, and his religion is taken away from him and converted into Christianity.

  2. Spiritual Aspects Of Lyrical Ballads

    the mind cannot force the body on a certain path of life. On the contrary, the mind and body will follow the spirit of nature. He continues in the sixth stanza, 'we can feed this mind of ours/In a wise passiveness', which again shows that through patience and enjoyment of

  1. The Trouble with the Birlings and Gerald Croft is they Confuse Respectability with Morality ...

    When he does return he realises as he walks in that everyone knows he is the father of Eva Smith's child. The Inspector then starts on Eric. It seems that what Eric did started from his enjoying himself a little too much, having a drink to make himself happy.

  2. The role of the Inspector in 'An Inspector Calls.'

    they are acting but instead supports Sheila in what she says by saying 'Sheila's right,' and 'I agree with Sheila.' He and Sheila are both there to give us hope for the future; the younger generation have better attitudes and can improve society.

  1. Sins of the Past

    She must have been killed. Watson dragged Defoe toward the door. He reached the door and then something hit him on the back of the head. Watson crumpled to the floor, holding his head. He looked behind him and saw Lucy facing him. She looked angry.

  2. How does Shakespeare Prepare the Audience for the Tragic events of Act 5 Scene ...

    it away; they argue whether the bird they hear is the 'nightingale and not the lark.' Shakespeare uses lots of symbols for light and dark, day and night, the birds being one of them. Night to the lovers is safety, and day is the enemy- the bringer of reality.

  1. Shylock, Victim or Villain

    Shylock drags Antonio to the jailor to ask for his bond. "I'll have my bond, speak not against my bond; I have sworn an oath that I will have my bond". He mentions the word bond six times as repetition is very persuasive.

  2. Adventure begins here.

    of the group again then I don't really care," Ian mumbled rudely keeping his eyes focused on the ground. "Of course. I've come here to get down on my knees and beg until you tell me I can come home to your arms," I replied sarcastically.

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