Essay, Research Paper: Othello Character

Literature: Shakespeare

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Othello's character during the play is first shown as a hero of war and a man of
great pride and courage. The other main characters in the play all form their
own opinions of him and as the play continues, his character begins to
deteriorate and become less noble. Chronologically through the play Othello's
character changes from a flawless military leader, to become a murderer. Also as
the play progresses, the other characters in the play change their opinions of
Othello which causes the plot to happen the way it did. Throughout the first act
of the play, Othello was shown as many different characters depending on who was
speaking. Iago complains of Othello's pride and "bombast circumstance"
and is angered by the appointment of Cassio, and educated military theoretician
of Florence to lieutenant, instead of himself. Although he knows Othello is a
proud man, his open and trusting nature in the beginning of the play will be
eroded by the conclusion of the plot. As Iago is speaking to Brabantio about
Othello, he uses the term "white ewe" to represent Desdemona, and
"black ram" when referring to Othello. By using these terms, it shows
that he is trying to give a bad impression of Othello when he is speaking to the
royal family in Venice, because Othello is a Moor or a Negro. Iago shows his
black hatred for the Moor, and his jealousy of Cassio in his first soliloquy and
also reveals his evil intentions. As the act continues and Othello is being
searched for by a group of people, Iago attempts to incite Othello into anger
against Brabantio, but Othello does not take the bait. He feels that he (Brabantio)
may do his worst because Othello is assured that his military services to the
government will outweigh Brabantio's complaints of him marrying Desdemona. These
answers to Iago's persistence show that he is still a character of calmness and
dignity, and he still has the self-assurance suitable to command armies of men.
When Othello is found by Cassio, he seems to be relieved because he does not
like personal conflict, which would have occurred if Brabantio had found him
instead. After he is found, Othello is taken to Brabantio where he is
interrogated on how he possessed Desdemona enough in order to make her run off
with him. Brabantio damns Othello and calls him an enchanter, saying that the
"tender, fair, and happy" Desdemona was too shy of marriage, which is
why she shunned all of the suitors sent to her. This entire scene helps to
establish Othello as an alert and composed leader. Later in this act, Othello
offers to explain how he won Desdemona. He chooses not to contradict or deny
that he has used "magic" but when the true meaning of the
"magic" comes to light it is shown that he used the magic of love and
not a conjured magic. Iago also suspects Othello of having some kind of
relationship with his own wife, although he doesn't know or even seem to care
whether or not his suspicions have any foundation at all. Again, according to
Iago, Othello is an "ass" because he has a "free and open
nature." This act works as an introduction to the Othello character and
shows how other characters react to his presence in different ways. The
remaining acts of the play continue to show how the characters react to
Othello's lifestyle changes. Even though he must rid Cassio of his lieutenant
responsibilities forever, Othello explains how he still loves him. If it were up
to him Othello would have reinstated Cassio at the first opportunity, but this
would be bad political practice. He wishes to appease Desdemona by doing this
but he realizes that he can't. These practices show that he is a good governor
and does not wish to arouse hostilities in the city, with an untimely pardon of
Cassio. Desdemona tells Emilia that Othello is not the jealous type, which
Othello believes to be true himself. However, as the play progresses through Act
3, Othello talks to Iago telling him that their prior conversation gave him
reason to suspect Desdemona's motives. As a reader, you can see that Othello's
capacity for judgement has deteriorated up to this point, not only is his state
of mind changing due to Iago's constant prodding, but his morals have also
deteriorated along with his character. As the play winds to a close, the
characters continue to show their own opinions on Othello. Many of the
characters have changed their initial opinions because of Othello's obvious
attitude change, but Iago is one of the only characters that has kept the same
mindscape, besides Desdemona. Othello continues to disrespect Desdemona by
acting as if she was a prostitute, Emilia was her owner, and he was a visiting
buyer. This is blatant disrespect for his wife but she does not sway her love
and devotion from him. She does however feel that she is at the lowest point she
could possibly be at and the only way to go is up, because her lover has turned
into a "beast." The last act of the play allows the characters to
express their last views of Othello, and how he has affected them. The night
where he plans on killing Desdemona is an important scene because he is still
knowing enough to ask if she has prayed to allow her to have a clean soul when
she dies. After hearing this question, she realizes what he is about to do and
pleads with him asking why he is doing it. Desdemona always had faith in her
husband until the bitter end and this gave no help to her life. She died because
Othello was a pawn in Iago's game, and she had nothing to do with it. The
conclusion of the play signifies the end of the frustration for many characters.
Each of them has a different view of Othello's character and through the
duration of the play, many of these ideas change, however Iago and Desdemona are
the only main characters that do not change. They continue to have the same
outlook upon Othello's unchanging character changes. Each character looks upon
Othello in his/her own way and that is how much of the plot unravels as the play
moves on.
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