"Othello in his magnanimous way, is egotistic…. A habit of self-approving, self-dramatization is an essential element in Othellos' make up."F.R Leavis - How far do you support each of these statements?
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"Othello is so noble..... and his sufferings are so heart-rending, that he stirs..... in most readers a passion of mingled love and pity which they feel for no other hero in Shakespeare." A.C Bradley "Othello in his magnanimous way, is egotistic.... A habit of self-approving, self-dramatization is an essential element in Othellos' make up." F.R Leavis How far do you support each of these statements? Is Othello noble? Is Othello egotistic? Do we love or loathe Othello? These questions have answers for and against them. We can see from the quotes by Bradley and Leavis that they both have very different opinions. From the start of Brdley's quote we can see that he believes Othello is 'noble'. From analysing the play I personally believe that Othello is noble at the start of the play but not at the end. I will now explain why I believe this using evidence from the play. The following quote shows that Othello is respectful and polite. "Most potent, grave, and reverend signors" (L77 A1 S3) This quote is said by Othello talking to the Duke and Senators. I believe that if Othello was not noble he would not have spoken to these people in such a polite way. Another example of Othello being noble is when he is talking to the Duke and Senators about Desdemona and says " I did thrive in this fair lady's love."
From reading the quote by Leavis we can see that he believes Othello is egotistic. I personally agree with Leavis and believe that Othello is egotistic. I will now use evidence to support why I think this. When Othello says "my parts, my title, and my perfect soul shall manifest me rightly." (L31 A1 S2) it shows that he thinks his personal qualities, his title and his soul are all perfect. This shows that he is very much full of himself and is as Leavis said 'egotistic'. "Her father loved me." (L128 A1 S3) I think this quote proves that Othello is egotistic. We do not know if Brabantio actually verbally said to Othello he 'loved him', and it seems unlikely that he would have. Therefore I believe Othello presumes this and that would show Othello loved himself being egotistic. When Othello says "Ha, ha - false to me?" I think it shows he is egotistc again. I believe this because 'ha, ha' shows that he is laughing and I think this shows his disbelief that someone could be false to him. It seems as though Othello finds it funny that someone would be false to him because he is so wonderful. I think the stories Othello tells in the Act 1, also show that he loves talking about himself.
I did wonder why Shakespeare makes such a point of reinforcing that what Desdemona fell for was not the living man, but a glorified version of himself, constructed through the stories he tells. Here, even as Othello describes his courtship, he re-enacts it, now telling again (in summary) the stories he told Desdemona. Othello reveals evident pleasure in talking about his stories and wooing Desdemona. If he did not like talking he would have not re-told the stories. I think this shows that Othello does have 'a habit of self-approving, self-dramatization'. When we look at the kind of story he tells about himself, it once again shows Othello has 'a habit of self-approving, self-dramatization'. Othello recalls that he told Desdemona of 'The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads/Do grow beneath their shoulders. The 'story of my life' which Othello tells, contains some fantasy material which is questionable to us. How did Shakespeare expect audiences to react? I personally believe that Shakespeare found tales of the Anthropophagi and similar stories rather far-fetched, maybe even amusing, and that he included them here to give Othello's traveler's tale precisely that feeling of unreality, which I believe it has. I firmly believe that I have used sufficient evidence to prove my points and in conclusion, I think the two quotes by Bradley and Leavis have evidence to support and go against them. On the whole, I firmly believe that Leavis's idea of Othello being egotistic and self-approving is correct, but this is my opinion and you must decide for yourself.
This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Othello section.
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