• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What is the Significance of the word "Honest" in Othello?

Extracts from this document...


What is the Significance of the word "Honest" in Othello? Honesty is by far, one of the most important factors in Othello, even though there is actually very little honesty in the play. As Othello is mainly about deception, trust and relationships, honesty becomes a main part of it, as it is the foundation of a trustful and strong relationship. By using the word honest Shakespeare creates a contrast between the good and bad, just like in Othello Honest, defined as being truthful and sincere [The Little Oxford dictionary, Sixth Edition], has many connotations of which include innocence, loyalty and trustworthiness, and when associated with a character we see a "perfect" character (i.e. like the hero). However, the term is used many times and mostly applied to Iago, the villain, the most dishonest and cunning character in the play. To Iago honesty was to be twisted to his own desire. In Othello, a character described as honest is seen to be trustworthy. ...read more.


An important example of this is the relationship between Othello and Iago. By Act 3 Scene 3, we know Iago's plot is successfully developing, because he as managed to strengthen his relationship with Othello by building suspicion about Cassio's and Desdemona's relationship. By this time Iago has made the characters very vulnerable and in need of him. We see Othello's vulnerability when he is easily convinced by Iago's false story of Cassio, "But this denoted...though it be but a dream" [3.3.426], after he clearly asks for "ocular proof" [3.3.357]. This shows us he has much trust in Iago-maybe more than in Desdemona. However, Iago is not the only fraudulent character in the play. Othello and Desdemona secretly married without consent, from which Brabantio underwent a great sense of betrayal. In spite of this neither Othello nor Desdemona had ever been portrayed in a dishonest way. This shows us that Shakespeare had different levels of understanding each time he used 'honest'. It was for this reason that he received much criticism from William Epson (1951), who thought it was a bad idea ...read more.


The quote "I am an honest man" [2.3.262], said by Iago, resembles another quote said by himself earlier in Othello, "I am not what I am" [1.1.62]. As well as being ironic, if we rearrange this it forms, I am not an honest man. The fact that honest was used makes this quote very meaningful, as it seems as if Iago is mocking the deeper meaning of honest. Also when associated with Iago the word honest looses meaning, which exaggerates Iago's dishonest and 2-faced character. By repeating this word throughout the play, Shakespeare creates a lot of dramatic irony right through the performance, adding to the very deceptive atmosphere created by the narrative and the characters in relation to the word 'honest'. The irony that builds up through the progression of the story has an affect on the audience and will encourage audience reaction, by building up emotions towards the characters (e.g. anger towards Iago and Othello). The irony also builds a very tense atmosphere and creates a suitable mood along with many dramatic affects, of which this play is full of. Suhila Malik 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Othello section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work