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The definition of melodrama in the Oxford English Dictionary is 'a genre in which actors and actresses exaggerate movement and emotion often with crude appeal.

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Neil Studd GCSE Coursework Essay-Othello 20.1.02 The definition of melodrama in the Oxford English Dictionary is 'a genre in which actors and actresses exaggerate movement and emotion often with crude appeal.' I think beyond doubt that Act Five of Othello is just that. In Scene One we are greeted with a dark street containing Iago and Roderigo planning to murder Cassio. In the end Cassio is wounded and Roderigo is killed. People are running all over the stage shouting and giving asides to the audience. It is total chaos. In Scene Two both Othello and Desdemona die very over-the-top deaths. Nearly the whole cast end up dead in this extremely melodramatic act. Dramatic irony is used to make this act melodramatic, an example of which is when Roderigo is about to kill Cassio. He says, (about Iago): "I have no great devotion to the deed, yet he hath given me satisfying reasons" (V.i.8-9) when really we know that Iago has made all these reasons up. This makes the audience feel sorry for Roderigo as we can see that he has been unknowingly pulled into Iago's villainous plan. This is melodramatic and unbelievable as surly, no one in their right mind would kill someone for another person without evidence they have witnessed themselves, not just what a friend has told them. Another device used is short, sharp lines like when Cassio has just been stabbed: Cassio O, help! Lodovico Hark! Roderigo O, wretched villain (V.i.39-41) This is used many times during Act Five and so increases the pace of the play and creates more suspense for the audience, even though any sense of realism is lost. ...read more.


Evidence for this comes at the beginning of Act Five Scene One when Roderigo is hiding behind the bulk (shop framework) and Cassio comes along. Roderigo lunges out with his sword, a rather melodramatic movement in itself. I think that if Shakespeare had not meant it to be like this he could have just as easily made Roderigo sneak up behind Cassio and stab him silently. This would have caused a bit of an anticlimax to the ending of Iago's plan and he would still have to kill Roderigo himself. This gives satisfaction to the audience as all the emotion felt beforehand has finally resulted in excitement and action. During the last Act Iago appears very out of character compared to the way he is previously portrayed. It is clear from his manipulation of other characters earlier in the play that he is able to think ahead, just as if he is playing a game of chess. The only difference is that he is playing with real people. He never actually commits any crime himself, and due to the fact that he tells Othello that he often jumps to conclusions, he always has an escape rout in case someone reveals him. In Act Five his character is reversed. He appears to have lost his patience and all the trust, which has enabled him to execute his plan. He blew his cover in one thoughtless act when he killed Emilia for no real reason apart from the fact that she would not go home: Iago: Be wise, and get you home. ...read more.


The lack of a conclusive ending may be a reflection of the greatness of Othello and the spitefulness of Iago. Shakespeare must have thought that this was an appropriate ending, leaving it up to the imagination what happened to Iago, some might think they do not know the whole story. I think that Shakespeare made the right choice of ending to the play. He could have chosen a realistic approach but I do not think the audience would benefit from it as much. This is because then there is no action in it and the whole play becomes very bland. Another reason Shakespeare chose this ending is because throughout the play anxiety has been building up to the outcome of Iago's plan. In the last scene the audience gets the outcome of his plan, plus what appears to be a situation where all hell is let loose. The stage is very crowded during this scene, at one point there are twelve characters alive, three dead and two injured characters on stage at once! The overacting also makes Iago seem even more villainous as it appears that he has caused his victims to be even more distressed than they really are. Overall, I think that the ending makes an exciting contrast to the previous acts and leaves it up to the imagination as to what things could have happened to Iago. Personally, I think that, with all Iago's asides, we have managed to really get into his head and know what he is thinking. This makes him seem extremely life like and is nice to go away thinking that one day, maybe, he could do it all again. 1 1 ...read more.

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