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Othello themes essay

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Introduction

Themes in Othello 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. "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". Othello's flaw is that he cannot understand human nature and he therefore cannot recognize the fact that he is jealous. Only Desdemona and Cassio, the true innocents of the story, seem beyond its clutches. Racism is an extremely important theme as it has a great amount of influence on how people regard Othello. For those, such as Iago, who distrust black people, based merely on looks, never like Othello. ...read more.

Middle

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." (5.2.291-292). Here, Othello says that he looks down to see if Iago's feet are cloven like the devils, but realises that, that's just a story with a moral. Then says that if Iago is not the devil then he cannot kill him and stabs Iago with his knife. ...read more.

Conclusion

He says that he will use the fact that Othello trusts him to get his revenge on Othello. This type imagery throughout the play reveals the fact that appearances are deceptive. Iago mentions the Roman God Janus who has two faces and even tells Othello "men should be what they seem" despite the fact that he has already said "I am not what I am". 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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