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Othello - How far do you agree that the play's main concern is to explore the worst and best of human nature?

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Q. How far do you agree that the play's main concern is to explore the worst and best of human nature? In 'Othello,' by William Shakespeare, the exploration of human nature plays a crucial role. The plot occurs around a malevolent character, Iago, who plays on the weaknesses of human nature. Using this, he manipulates the other characters and subsequently leads them, and ultimately himself, to downfall. The worst and best traits of human nature also become the main themes in the play. The play largely explores human weakness, or the worst of human nature. Such weaknesses are greed, envy, deception, racism and sexism, lust, sloth and wrath. Iago, a malicious character, and arguably the protagonist of the play, displays all of these deadly 'sins.' Iago's actions and his sinful personality in effect 'write' the plot of 'Othello.' Othello, the Moor of Venice, has promoted a Florentine, by the name of Michael Cassio, to be his lieutenant. Iago immediately boils up with jealousy, as Iago believes he should have received the job, "I know my price, I am worth no worse a place." This leads to his greed for revenge, to "serve [his] turn upon him." ...read more.


These ideas are also major concerns, because they relate to the concerns of the viewers in Shakespearian times, and as a result, involved the audience directly in the play, and gave them a greater understanding. The human flaws of racism and sexism, "players in your housewifery, and housewives in your beds," are highlighted through a major character in the play, Iago. Examples of the best characteristics of human nature are also displayed in 'Othello.' Faith, kindness, justice, humility, chastity, and generosity are considered the 'heavenly virtues' or the best traits of human nature. Characters, such as Desdemona, Emilia, Cassio and Othello portray these qualities; at least at the beginning of the play, before Iago exploits these characteristics. Desdemona is continually faithful, kind and fair. The themes of heaven, beauty, and love are portrayed through this character. Even when chaos erupts, and Iago takes revenge, by breaking up Othello and Desdemona's relationship, she speaks of her undying love and her apologetic nature is remembered, especially the idea of humility. This is shown when she speaks her last words, and puts the blame for demise upon herself, "Nobody. ...read more.


I believe if Iago had not used Othello's trusting and easily suspicious nature against him, Othello would have remained as he was at the start, portraying the 'best' qualities. Othello was turned into a man portraying the same nasty characteristics as Iago, such as extreme jealousy, lust and sexism, including similar barbaric imagery. In conclusion, the 'best and worst' of human nature is vital in this play. It determines how characters react to each other, and the ways in which these characteristics can be easily used against them by characters having the 'worst' of human nature, such as Iago. These good and bad traits also develop into the main themes of the play, such as jealousy, deception, racism and misogyny, including others. These ideas are also the main concern, because they create imagery, which further highlights the importance through visual images, and relate to the opinions and emotions of the audience, involving them directly in the play. The whole plot revolves around the ideas I have mentioned, and the main characters in the story. The plot is created by Iago, who uses the 'best and worst' natures of each character, against them, to fulfill the bad traits in his own nature, such as misogyny, greed, need for revenge and envy. Elysse Jones, 13cl ...read more.

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