A look into Shakespeares Othello
The character Othello in Shakespeare’s “Othello” is the protagonist and the central character of the play. His personality and nature is revealed to readers throughout the piece as he develops into the tragic hero. It is possible to learn much of Othello’s character because of Shakespeare’s clever way of integrating the character’s relationships while sticking the basis of the elements of a tragedy. This unfortunate credulous Moor’s character will be analyzed through his actions and speech as well as what is done unto him and said to him. The motives of these actions are what truly depict character, and must be understood in order to make a credible analysis of Othello’s character.
Othello a man of great stature in the society to which he resided was an accomplished soldier with a rich past and a respectable manner. However, it would not be a tragedy if there wasn’t any apparent harmartia, for his noble exterior is revealed to be no more than a covering of an insecure, jealous man. Othello’s lack of self esteem was easily taken advantage of by the character Iago, and was the weapon of the character Desdemona’s (his wife) destruction. Othello’s jealousy blinded him to the point of causing him to lose trust in his closest of friends Cassio. Worst of all however, the combination of his insecurity and jealousy caused him to lose sight of himself.
Othello’s insecurity was apparent throughout the entire play though instances such as basing his love for Desdemona on a handkerchief, and allowing Iago to so easily manipulate him. Iago skillfully used Othello to fulfill his evil agenda, but not to discard the fact that Othello defied logical reasoning in his decision making. Iago threw such a wild story at Othello, telling him of Desdemona’s infidelity with his best friend, and reinforced his claim with mere circumstantial evidence. Othello, putting very little rational thought, trusted Iago’s words. The mere idea of such a folly is an insult to Othello’s intelligence, however insecurities leave their owner’s so very vulnerable. The fact that Othello was willing to allow something as measly and material as a handkerchief to be the deciding variable in his love for Desdemona is his insecurity revealing itself though his actions. Being so unsure that some one could give him unconditional love, is a sure sign of a self esteem complex and that was what was present in Othello’s mind.
Thee jealousy and mistrust in Othello’s Heart was also a key ingredient to his ultimate downfall. Othello could not have truly been in love with Desdemona because truth love is confident, and confidence is not jealous. His jealous tendency caused him to lose his trust for his best friend Michael Cassio. Acting on this immature jealousy was Othello’s ultimate flaw. This caused him to block out reason and act on a whim or impulse. Iago was able to successfully build upon Othello’s easily jealous nature which caused him to eventually take action by the fuel of his anger from his jealousy. Othello’s jealousy caused him to act outside his stately manner and act as a man of no value or class. His jealous caused him to believe that it was Desdemona who was out of character with her infidelity rather than himself, with foolish anger.
Othello was a noble character, well respected that had fallen victim to his two major flaws, which were his jealousy and his insecurity, which both worked together in unison to bring him outside his character. This was displayed with his relationships with Desdemona and Cassio, and fueled by his relationship with Iago. Shakespeare was teaching us a lesson in the power of the relationship between low self-esteem and jealousy.
Brabantio is the father of Desdemona who is Othello’s love interest. He was good friends with Othello, and seemed to marvel and his tales of his journeys. Othello was able to stay at his house while in Venice, where he was able to meet Desdemona. This meeting sparked a romantic relationship between Othello and Desdemona, and the romance lead to Desdemona running away with Othello to embark on a secret marriage. This is where the skillful cunning of Iago uses that situation to arouse the anger of Brabantio. After he is informed about what has taken places his respect and love for Othello quickly turns into anger and disappointment. He feels betrayed by both Othello and Desdemona, but because of his love for his daughter he puts the blame of Othello. Brabantio does not believe that Desdemona would ever fall in love with Othello unless some supernatural aid has occurred, therefore Othello must have kidnapped her. In the protection of his daughter Brabantio is willing to consider Othello, a man formerly of his favour, to be a criminal. Brabantio takes the position of a typical father, for he feels that Othello has robbed him of his most sacred possession, by marrying his daughter. He feels hurt by Desdemona as well for being secretive and for choosing Othello over him. . The hurt was brought upon because Desdemona is all he has left to love with the passing of her mother. The shock and disbelief causes his realization of the truth to be marred and his acceptance of the truth to be incredibly difficult.
Iago’s character is the most in depth of character development in the play. Throughout the process of the story readers are able to watch how he uses his wit to manipulate and destroy relationships. His motive for the evil he does is out of complete disgust and hatred towards Othello for three prevalent reasons. Firstly believed that Othello has slept with his wife Emilia, Secondly he was angry that Othello appointed Michael Cassio with the position of Iago’s desire, and thirdly because he was a Moor. We learn of this in the following quotes.
“… I hate the Moor; And it is thought abroad that twixt my sheets ‘Has done my office. I know not if it be true; Yet I, for mere suspicion in that kind, Will do as if for surety.”( act 1, scene 3, line 279)
“old black ram” (act1,scene 1, line 88)
Iago skillfully and efficiently plays upon the weaknesses of Othello and Roderigo and Emilia and Cassio as well as Desdemona to see through the completion of his evil agenda. He was the cause of all their deaths except Cassio, but only actually murdering Emilia and Roderigo. He uses jealousy and aggression and his charm very well to woo the ignorant victims. He can be said to be the representation of the devil throughout the play where he brings out the worst qualities in his victims and causes them to do the damage to each other.
Iago’s ability to take advantage of the weak qualities was certainly masterful. He was able to use Roderigo as a pawn so very strategically, for he kept on telling Roderigo precisely what he needed to hear to continue on his foolish quest for Desdemona’s love. He used Roderigo to do his dirty work, with informing Brabantio of Desdemona’s departure with Othello, and fighting Cassio so that he would lose his rank. He then finally made him fight Cassio, not caring what the outcome would be because he planned on killing him, himself. He also took advantage of Cassio’s weakness towards alcohols so he would be removed of his title. He manipulated Emilia with knowledge of her love for him to steal the handkerchief so as to please him. He used Desdemona’s kinda nature and love for Michael Cassio to cause her to arouse Othello’s anger and suspicion. Othello fell to Iago’s exploitation most harshly, and he abandoned his virtue, and harnessed his anger because of Iago’s sly ways. He was able to easily win Othello’s trust which was his most powerful weapon in his destruction. Othello eventually wished to kill that which he loved most because of Iago’s words, his wife and his best friend.
Iago’s evil nature and thirst for destruction was what really caused him to play everyone so viciously. His hatred towards Othello was just a mere excuse or justification of his action. In this quote it is possible to see that he finds sport or amusement in it all.
“Let us be conjunctive against him. If thou canst cuckold him, thou dost thyself a pleasure, me a sport.” (Scene 1, act 3, line363)
Iago will be remembered and known in all of literature for being a very intuitive, powerful villain that causes the downfall of so many.
Desdemona’s persona is a symbol of pure, innocence and steadfast love. Her characteristics are always consistent and her maturity in conduct is displayed in everything she does. The love she shows to Othello and Emilia and to Michael Cassio is genuine and unselfish in all instances.
Desdemona’s unwavering affection is deep beyond infatuation because it endures even through Othello’s abuse. The profane names he would call her and the physical abuse she endured because of this strong love. She was constantly worrying about his well being and always striving to make sure he was content, and in return she received nothing. The enormous sacrifice she made for Othello with leaving the comfort of her home and father should never be undermined. Desdemona also sacrificed her societal respect for marrying a Moor which was looked down upon at that time. She was completely Loyola to him never speaking of anyone else whether it was within Othello’s presence or outside of it. Even on her death bed that he laid for her, her unfading love for Othello, denied that he had killed her. She even took the blame upon herself.
“Nobody; I myself. Farewell: Commend me to my kind lord: O, farewell!” ( act 5, scene 2, line 133-134)
She enjoyed Emilia’s company and treated her with respect even with her position of power. She cared so much for Cassio that she pleaded for his reinstatement after he had lost his position.
“If I do vow a friendship, I’ll perform it To the last article: my lord shall never rest;” ( act 3, scene 3)
Always, in all she did she kept Othello’s interests in mind, however, despite her love for Cassio and Emilia. It was a tradgic ending for such a noble character. Shakespeare did an excelling job of creating and heir of pathos within the murdering of Desdemona.
Emilia is a virtuous woman of great loyalty and assertiveness. She did not seem to think too highly of men stating,
“Tis not a year or two shows us a man: They are all but stomachs, and we all but food; To eat us hungrily, and when they are full, They belch us.” (scene 3, Act 4)
She was devout and comforting to her mistress Desdemona, and often gave her opinion on matters concerning Desdemona openly. She was encouraging friend to Desdemona when she was getting weary of Othello’s abuse. She openly voiced her dislike of Othello’s treatment of Desdemona. She was intelligent enough to question Iago’s motives for acquiring Desdemona’s handkerchief, but her love for Iago restricted her from taking any further action. She also showed her reasoning when she quickly figured out that Iago had lied to Othello and had tricked him into thinking Desdemona was unfaithful. She was also assertive in that she stood up for herself despite her husbands protests and told everyone the truth.