How does Shakespeare use language and stagecraft to show Othello's changing feelings towards Dedemona throughout Othello

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Kate Prescott

How does Shakespeare use language and stagecraft to reflect Othello’s feelings towards Desdemona throughout Othello?(Focussing on Act 2 Scene 1, Act 3, Scene3, and Act 5 Scene 2)

Othello was written by Shakespeare in the year 1603. It was first performed in court, but not published until 1622. William Shakespeare took ideas from Giraldi Cinthio’s Hecca Tommithi – an Italian collection of 100 stories which were popular at the time, and studied by many playwrights and scholars.

The play is about love, jealousy, deceit, racism and lies, and is one of Shakespeare’s tragedies.

Othello is set in two places- the first act in Venice and the rest of the play at a sea port in Cypress. Venice was a powerful city, with a wealthy, law-abiding and formal society.

In contrast, Cypress was rowdy, not law-abiding, and constantly fighting. It is an island, which was attacked in 1570 by the Turks, having belonged to Italy for more than 100 years.

Women were thought of as stupid, silly, and objects only for having children, doing as they were told, and less intelligent. A wife was bought for a dowry, and parents would sell off their daughters to gain influence or money. Desdemona was Othello’s wife – they have been secretly married before the beginning of the play. She is the daughter of Venetian senator Barbanzio, and typically pure and meek, while being determined and self possessed. Othello believes her to be perfect and devoted to him, until Iago tricks him into thinking that she had been unfaithful. Distraught, Othello murders her. Emilia was Iago’s wife, and Desdemona’s assistant. She is very attached to her mistress, and distrustful of her husband. She is a very cynical character.

Act 2 Scene 1

Shakespeare has used many exclamation marks (!) to show the characters’ strong emotions.

“O my fair warrior!
My dear Othello”

This stagecraft allows the actor to express the character’s strong emotions and emphasise stronger words by speaking loudly and strongly. They show the character’s feelings, and how happy Othello and Desdemona are to see each other. Shakespeare has also repetitively used the word “my”, which shows Othello and Desdemona’s possessiveness of each other, and how they feel they belong to each other.

Repetition is used throughout the scene, with the frequently used word “content” showing how happy Othello is with his life at the time.
        “Great is my content... content so absolute... enough of this content”

He is showing how happy with his life and his love for Desdemona. He says that his “content” is “great”, and “so absolute” that he cannot imagine “another comfort like this”. However he also says that he “cannot speak enough of this content; it stops me here; it is too much of joy.” Here he says that he feels so happy to be re-united with Desdemona that he cannot put his feelings into words.

Then “[They kiss]”. Here Othello is showing how happy he is with his love for his wife, and that he is not afraid to show it in public. Everyone can see this display of emotion, and Othello seems proud of his love, not ashamed; likewise with Desdemona.

Othello and Desdemona forget that other people are around them, showing how much they love each other.
        “I prattle out of fashion... my old acquaintance”
Othello and Desdemona do not acknowledge the presence of the other characters in the scene until after their reunion, showing that they are deeply in love and only see each other.

Othello says a lot about his love for Desdemona, going over the top to praise her. He repeatedly says how much Desdemona makes him happy, showing how strong his feelings of love are for her.

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Act 3 Scene 3

Iago has started placing suspicion in Othello’s mind, and Othello is unsure if Desdemona is faithful or not.

“This fellow’s of exceeding honesty, and knows all qualities, with a learned spirit, of human dealings. If I do prove her haggard, though that her jesses were my dear heart-strings, I’d whistle her off, and let her down the wind to prey at fortune”

Othello says that Iago is honest, and is beginning to believe him. He compares Desdemona to a wild, untrained hawk – “haggard” – and extends this metaphor to go to say that his “dear ...

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This essay certainly displays elements of a 5 star essay but doesn't maintain the standard throughout. Good analysis of language, structure and form are present but at times points are repeated and expression can become a bit vague with a lack of direction. 4 Stars