Why Act 3, Scene 3 is a significant turning point in Othello

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        Act Three, Scene Three – Othello

Choose a scene which you consider to be a turning point and explain in detail and with some reference to the rest of the play why it is dramatic and significant.  Refer to language, themes and characterisation.

        A turning point is a time in a plot where actions cause a character to develop from their prior persona.  A classic example of this is Act Three, Scene Three of Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’.  This scene is crucial to the play, as it conveys the change in the moor, Othello’s personality as a result of Iago’s manipulation.  In this essay I will describe this scene’s dramatic nature and significance with reference to language, themes and characterisation.  I will begin by describing Othello before Iago had interfered with his relationship.  I will then give an overview of the structure and state why it is effective.  I shall explore the key moments in manipulation and discuss how a climax is created.  In conclusion, I shall relate the scene to the rest of the play, whilst discussing why it is dramatic with reference to the main themes portrayed, and its overall significance.

Othello is a man of many complexities.  Having being cast into a world of civilised Venetians, he is seen as an outsider; a ‘black ram’, ‘The Moor’.  His ethnicity is foreign to the people, and so it can be seen in his simple dialect.  Yet, referred to as “noble Othello”, prior to Act Three, Scene Three, the character of Othello is revealed as a highly respected man.  He is regarded as a trusted general of Venice, and fights for his people with determination and pride.  After his secret elopement with Desdemona, a wealthy senator’s daughter, Othello has created a lot of anger and discredited himself, but he manages to maintain his dignified image, claiming “I fetch my life and being from men of royal siege”, thus equalling himself to the noble senators.  When challenged to a duel by the furious Brabantio, Othello ensures that the dispute will be settled by words and not fisticuffs, commanding “put up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them”.  These calm measured words bring stability to the situation, and prove that however upset the people may have been, they still respected him enough to obey him.  His confused personality however is due to the fact that Othello has many inferiority complexities; not only is he seen as “different” because of his colour, but he is much older than Desdemona, and has never known love before her.  He has found someone who can reciprocate his openness, and so has complete faith in her.  His honest and simple trusting nature is one of Othello’s greatest assets, yet it is also his biggest flaw, as it is the foundation that Iago finds to work his evil upon.

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This scene is well structured, showing the gradual decline of Othello’s character.  The scene can be split into six different sections.  It  is opened with a discussion between Cassio and Desdemona.  Having been deceived by Iago into disgracing himself before Othello, Cassio has come to plead with the “virtuous” lady to beg her husband for his reinstatement.  Desdemona tells Cassio that she would “rather die” than break her promise to do so.  This shows the genuine nature of her character.   In seeing Othello appearing, he slopes guiltily away.  Though his leaving was purely due to embarrassment over his actions, ...

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This essay is clearly structured, with a strong introduction and conclusion. Each paragraph is well signposted, making it clear what it adds to the argument. I was slightly disappointed to see the use of the first person in the introduction - phrases such as "I shall" are really unnecessary and show a lack of sophistication. However, this is only included in the introduction and in no way detracts from the excellent essay that follows.

The analysis in the essay is strong. I would like to note the strength in embedding quotes - this essay includes quotes frequently, yet these do not hinder the flow of the argument. If you are looking for examples of embedding quotes, this essay is full of them. The frequent use of quotes means that there is analysis throughout the essay, and it rarely just retells the story because of this. I particularly liked the paragraph discussing how the scene was structured, but there could be improvements here. It is key to remember that Shakespeare is constructing the play, yet it is not mentioned once in this essay. Showing awareness that this is the case allows you to address why he may have chosen to have Iago manipulate Othello, for example, then allowing an exploration of audience response. This essay superbly addresses the audience response throughout, acknowledging the dramatic effect a play should bring, but they could strengthen their analysis by mentioning Shakespeare's role a bit more. Language, imagery are analysed throughout and technical terms are used strongly. The analysis in this essay should be admired!

This essay picks a suitable scene when discussing significance, superbly analysing its components to describe its dramatic effect. I was pleased to see a number of paragraphs which ably support the argument that Act Three, Scene Three is significant to the play. It was great to see that this essay acknowledges that Othello is a play, looking at audience responses throughout.