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OTHELLO'S LANGUAGE. Although Othello pretends to be poorly spoken, the only magic that he possesses is in his power of language. His language shows his pride in his achievements, and also allows him to make himself into a kind of hero. Othello portrays himself as a tested, honourable warrior, and indeed is such. Othello's speech before the assembly shows what he believes Desdemona's love to be, he thinks that Desdemona's affection is a form of hero worship, and she loves him for the stories he tells, and the things he has done. He believes it is his allusions to strange people and places, like the "Anthropophagi," that fascinate her, and this youthful fascination forms the semi-solid core of her affections. Indeed, his powers of language successfully win the Duke over, and soften Brabantio's disapproval. For all that Othello is set in a "masculine", military world it is the language which dominates the play rather than actions. Language defines character, revealing Othello as the eloquent outsider who descends into madness through the breakdown of his language and Iago as Janus. Moreover it reveals that appearance isn't always the same as reality. ...read more.


For Othello his language is shaped by his life experience. Every aspect of it is elevated, powerful, as if he is telling one of his stories which he previously told Desdemona. This leads to his dramatic "farewell" speech: "Farewell the tranquil mind, farewell content! / Farewell the plumed troops and the big wars/ That makes ambition virtue.../ Farewell: Othello's occupation gone". From this point in the play it is indeed farewell: farewell to the "Pride, pomp and circumstance of glorious war" in Othello's language; farewell to heaven which is now made of "marble" and farewell to his "music". Earlier in the play Othello ironically states "when I love thee not/ Chaos is come again". As Othello's love is so absolute it is unsurprising that when he no longer loves Desdemona the chaos, in both his life and language, is also absolute. Imagery of heaven is replaced by imagery of "hollow hell" and "sweating devil[s]" and his language become more sexual: "Hot, hot moist". His speech on the importance of the handkerchief in Act 3 Scene 4 shows how his origins colour his language. He states that "there's magic in the web of it" and that his mother received it from a "charmer" who "could almost read/ The thoughts of people". ...read more.


His conversation with Emilia after the murder is characterised by the repetition of the word "husband" as realisation begins to dawn on Othello. His final speech, which is effectively his epitaph, shows a return to his "music" of the opening Act. It contains a list of similes to describe his condition, in which we encounter the "base Indian" and the "Arabian trees". This again shows how his language is coloured by his origins. After the first-person opening however Othello stands back from himself and speaks in the third person of "one" who has done all these things. His judgement on himself is "Of one that loved not wisely, but too well", which may suggest that even at this point our tragic hero is deceiving himself. It also has to be noted that Othello is conscious that this is his epitaph and it is therefore worded accordingly. Othello is a highly introspective character who creates images of beauty and elegance in a way which none of the other characters do and yet, his final speech gives a clue to the problem of such a style of language. It is not only his language which is coloured by his dramatisation but his life as well and this undoubtedly leaves him open to having his poetic talents used for negative effect on both his life and language. ...read more.

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