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Themes in Othello.

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Introduction

Themes in Othello In the play, Othello the Moor of Venice, many themes are conveyed. These themes include good versus evil, racism, jealousy and appearance versus reality. Jealousy is a major theme of the play. The imagery surrounding jealousy makes it a monster which controls the characters. Othello represents how jealousy is one of the most corrupting and destructive of emotions. "I tremble at it. Nature/ would not invest herself in such shadowing passion/ without some instruction." (4.1.39-41) Othello jealousy overpowers him, as he trembles, at the idea of Desdemona and Cassio together. His statement about nature means that he believes he would not feel such powerful emotion and his mind would not be filled with images of them together, if it weren't really happening. Othello takes the intensity of his own emotional jealousy to the thought of Desdemona being unfaithful. It is also jealousy that prompts Iago to plot Othello's downfall, and jealousy is also the tool that Iago uses to arouse Othello's passions. Roderigo and Bianca demonstrate jealousy at various times in the play, and Emilia demonstrates that she too knows the emotion well, describing jealousy as "a monster/Begot upon itself, born upon itself". ...read more.

Middle

Though there is much gray area between good and evil, Iago's battle against Othello and Cassio certainly counts as an embodiment of this theme. Iago and his evil battle to corrupt and turn the flawed natures of other characters, and he does succeed to some extent. By the end of the play, neither has won, as Desdemona and Emilia are both dead, and Iago revealed and punished. When Desdemona says, "...your Lieutenant, Cassio. Good my lord,/ If I have any grace or power to move you,/ His present reconciliation take./ For if he be not one that truly loves you,/ That errs in ignorance, and not in cunning,/ I have no judgment in an honest face./ I prithee call him back" (3.3.44-51). Desdemona represents all that is good in the play. Thinking Cassio a good man and unaware of Iago's plan to manipulate Othello, Desdemona tries to convince Othello to reinstate Cassio, as he had never before failed Othello, and it was due to his moment of ignorance that he neglected his duty. When Othello says, "I look down towards his feet, but that's a fable./ If that thou be'st a devil, I cannot ill thee." ...read more.

Conclusion

Othello himself does not understand what people are like, he doesn't see past Iago's mask. When Iago says, "My lord you know I love you", Othello replies saying, "I think thou dost./ And for I know thou'rt full of love and honesty/ And weigh'st thy words before thou giv'st them breath" (3.3.120-123). This shows that Iago's appearance is extremely unlike his character. Othello trusted Iago in every respect, often calling him "Honest Iago". Othello believes Iago to be his personal friend. Othello's statement reveals how well Iago is at manipulating people into seeing him as a good and decent individual. Othello doesn't even know what Desdemona is really like, and she is his wife. He admits he knows only of the "tented field". Having said this none of the other characters understand Desdemona either, Brabantio says she is a "maiden never bold" and Roderigo thinks that she can be bought with presents. Iago's downfall proves to be the fact that he does not understand women, and so he can never truly be in control of Emilia. These themes together reflect the characters of the play and hold the play together. ...read more.

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