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Othello - State of Mind

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Introduction

'With specific references to three key speeches examine how Othello's use of language reflects his changing state of mind In the play' 'Othello' a play written by William Shakespeare, is a tragedy and was written in the 17th century. The main character Othello, a moor, has a fluctuant mind which changes throughout the play. Due to the period in which the play is set there is a large influence on ethnic and moral background. At this time England was a Christian country, all children were baptized and soon after they were born into the Church of England, they were taught the essential rules of Christian faith. By such means the authorities were able to keep check on the populace, recording of births, marriages, and death, being alerts to any religious nonconformity, which could be politically dangerous. The plot of the play is set in motion when Othello, a heroic Moorish general in the service of Venice, appoints Cassio and not Iago as his chief lieutenant. Jealous of Othello's success and envious of Cassio, Iago plots Othello's downfall by falsely implicating Othello's wife, Desdemona, and Cassio in a love affair. With the unwitting aid of Emilia, his wife, and the willing help of Roderigo, a fellow malcontent, Iago carries out his plan. In brief, Desdemona cannot produce a handkerchief once given her by Othello; thanks to Iago's machinations, it is later found among Cassio's possessions. Overcome with jealousy, Othello kills Desdemona. ...read more.

Middle

is shown by the fact that Othello's language is permanently of a higher class, he speaks in iambic pentameter and verse which is shown in the lines ' She loved me for the dangers I have passed, and I loved her that she did pity them'. The eloquence of the play is characterised by Othello's language. His eloquence in the opening Act contrasts sharply with the short sentences of the other characters. He claims that "Rude am I in my speech/And little blessed with the soft phrase of peace" but this is recognised by the audience to be modesty. The audience is not alone in noting the beauty of Othello's language with the Duke stating that Othello's "tale would win" his daughter as well. Indeed the quality of Othello's language has been labelled as "Othello music" by one critic and if it is worthy of such a label it is in the opening Act. For Othello the "tented field" is something characterised by romanticism and heroism. He talks of "Rough quarries, rocks and hills whose heads touch heaven" mixing the military world with imagery of heaven. Equally Desdemona is the "fair warrior" and his "captain's captain". This shows how he not only considers Desdemona to be his equal (something which none of the other characters do with the "maiden never bold") but how he has moved his affection and preoccupation with his career on to Desdemona. ...read more.

Conclusion

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. I believe that by now Othello's state of mind has decreased so much that is has caused him to kill himself; this is due to Iago pressurizing him into Killing his wife due to the unlawful experience. The language that Othello uses here is mainly prose which reflects his state of mind. ...read more.

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