Essay, Research Paper: Othello By Shakespeare

Shakespeare: Othello

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In the article, Othello and the pattern of Shakespearean Tragedy, by G.R.
Hibbard published in 1968, Hibbard discusses how Othello, by William
Shakespeare, stands apart from the rest of the Shakespearean Tragedies. He uses
examples from the play to support his thesis of how the tragic pattern in
Othello is very much different from that of the others. I agree with Hibbard’s
view on Othello and it’s unique characteristics that set it apart from the
traditional pattern of Shakespearean tragedies. Hibbard wrote his article using
supporting points to show how Othello is set apart from the other plays. He
describes the unrealistic events surrounding Othello being sent to Cyprus, where
he is allowed to bring his new wife. Hibbard write that Iago’s only goal in
the play is to ruin Othello’s life and does not want more political or
military power, as in the other plays but wishes only to destroy all that is
good and beautiful. All the other plays have plots where the events in the
public follow the pattern of the events of the antagonist this is missing in
Othello. “The pattern of the tragedy is a whirlpool, with its center in the
poisoned mind of the hero which reshapes, distorts, and degrades objective
reality.” Unlike in the other Shakespearean tragedies Othello does not know
the antagonist until the end of the play when it is too late to realize what has
occurred. The ending of Othello is also unique, in this case good does not
prevail over evil and unlike the other tragedies Othello seeks his own
valediction and “the ruin is total”. I agree with most of the authors points
of discussion in this article. I agree that Othello is sent to Cyprus for the
sole purpose of changing the scene to commence Iago’s plan and that this is
very different from the other plays where there are no such dramatic events that
are discarded so quickly (the immediate sinking of the Turkish fleet). I see the
‘whirlpool’ pattern the author speaks of where Iago is at the center; this
is clearly different from the other tragic plays where the direction is clear
and straightforward. Unlike in MacBeth, or Romeo and Juliet, Othello does not
know the antagonist until the end, I agree with this point because throughout
the play it is clear that Othello trusts Iago completely and disbelieves any
evidence that contradicts what he is saying. I also agree with Hibbard’s point
that in other Shakespearean tragedies the public events mirror the actions of
the antagonist. Hibbard is right in saying that the ending is quite unique with
the bodies being left on stage and the others quickly moving through the
arrangements of distributing the assets, they learned no lessons as in Romeo and
Juliet, they seemed almost unaffected by the deaths. The end was also unique
because Othello killed himself, he knew he did wrong and punished himself, this
does not occur in other tragedies. Although I support Hibbard in his thesis, I
disagree with a few of his supporting arguments. It is true that Iago did want
to destroy the lives of both Cassio and Othello, but did this because he felt
that he deserved Cassio’s position in the military. When Hibbard says, “The
ruin is total” I think this is extreme. I feel that evil did not prevail,
because Iago’s plan did not succeed, neither good nor evil triumphed. In
reading Hibbard’s article I felt he did a good job at supporting his thesis.
He provided the reader with enough information to understand why he chose his
thesis and decide whether or not they agree with his points. He used appropriate
references to support his ideas and backed up his points with specific events
from the play.
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