The Play Othello By William Shakespeare English Literature Essay
The play Othello was written by William Shakespeare around 1604, and became one of the most popular plays throughout the 17th century. People have been fascinated by the works of Shakespeare throughout history and frequently use quotes from his works even today, this paper will present an overview of the final act of the play Othello.
Once persuaded into believing the other side of a story, there is very little that can be done to change a persons opinion on the subject. The same holds true with Othello when he was tricked into killing his wife, Desdemona. At first he would not have believed the allegation that she cheated on him. But after being pressured by Iago and doubt put into his mind his belief of infidelity became stronger and stronger until such time that he acted upon his suspicion and killed his wife.
The attribute of easily being persuaded speaks very loudly for Othello's character. He is a man that is not easily lead astray, but once he finally travels down that road, he will do all in his power to follow though on his promise. This characteristic of Othello can be seen in the last act of Othello, in which he succeeds in killing not only his wife, but also himself. Even though Iago was able to exert his influence upon Othello, the process of turning him into a killer was long and drawn out. Throughout the play the reader is able to experience what Othello want though and what he was thinking up to the very last moments of his life.
From act 5 scene 2 lines 22, Othello prepares to kill Desdemona, but he does so in a orderly fashion. At this point in the play he feels that he was not the cause of the affair, that it was not his fault, but that he was just a bystander. He now believes Desdemona's soul to be impure, and dark, but on the other hand Othello is still able to see the "whiteness" or purity of her. This is why he promises not to damage her skin by cutting her up. " It is the cause. Yet I'll not shed her blood, Nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow." (5.2.10) His compassion for his wife is so great, he says "that her beauty is almost enough to make him stop from being an agent of justice.” Even though the temptation of not killing Desdemona is great, an analogy compares her innocence with that of a "light" that needs to be put out. He describe her as immaculate, but yet he has decided to condemn and kill her. There is a need for him to put this “light' out, which would in return would restore her to the former innocence. As death draws near he still feels the need to draw in the beauty and innocence of his wife, almost forgiving the crime that she was falsely accused of.
Alone with “light” Desdemona's life is also compared with that of a rose, which is beautiful and portrays a scene of innocents, but Othello is unable to let rose continue to live and it must wither and die. During all of this Othello is able to make use of fugitive language masking the grim deed of murder.
The word “light” is used as a metaphor, it is used to compare the “light” which is Desdemona's life and the light of a lamp. Othello feels that he needs to extinguish the light that is his wife’s life since she betrayed him. With the lamp, when Othello puts out the light, he is able to ignite it again, but with Desdemona's life, once the light is put out there is no chance that he will be able to reignite it.
“In Shakespeare and the Experience of Love, Author Kirsch demonstrates that Othello learns under Iago's Tutelage, to hate himself as an old black man and that, therefore he believes that Desdemona cannot love him as he is.” (xxxx) Iago has done what he set our to do. The Moor now at the end of the play feel self conscious about himself. He feels that he is not worthy of Desdemona's love and that she never love him from the beginning. From this Othello felt that it was his duty to kill her, which may put his jealousy to rest.(xxxx)
As his wife starts to wake up, he ask her in a calm manner whether or not she had her orders in affair. At this point, he is trying to give her one last chance to talk about her alleged affair with Cassio. Since she did nothing wrong, and does not really understand what Othello is talking about she avoids the question. This is just another nail in her coffin for Othello, as he thinks she is trying to hide the affair from him. The imagery in these lines has Desdemona appearing innocent, almost peaceful like she is ready to meet her end. While Othello is also peaceful, this is only and outward appearance, as you are able to tell by his actions and the use of his language that he is angry at Desdemona.
In act 5 scene 2 lines 337-355, Granzno finds Othello armed and defiant about the death of his wife. They are then joined by Monthano, Lodovico, Cassio and Iago who is being held in chains. Othello finally sees the light at the end of the tunnel and now he has killed the one person that loved him more then anything in the world. He also learned that she was not just loyal, but that she did not have an affair with Cassio and Iago was to blame for it all. Kknowing that Iago was the puppet master, Othello stabs him, but is able to only wound him. Iago mocks him for his weakness and is quiet for the rest of the play. At this time Lodovico informs Othello that he must come back to Venice, and that he was to be stripped of all his power and rank. Refusing to be taken away without first letting him speak. Othello says
“When you shall these unlucky deeds relate. Speak of me as I am, nothing extenuate, Nor set down aught in malice. Then you must speak Of one that loved not wisely but too well. Of one not easily jealous, but being wrought Perplexed in the extreme”
Othello is telling everyone that when asked about himself they should tell of his great journeys and victory, but also the fact that he was just human and he gave into one of human biggest weakness, jealousy. So his story should be that he love someone so much, that in the end it took over him and caused the death of his wife. Othello has done evil thing, but he feels that by killing himself, he had conquered the villain, who is his self and therefore become the hero.
“The killing of Desdemona has no such relation to logic of Othello, I think, because the crime or the deed that most calls forth the tragic sense in this play is not the killing of a life, but the violation of love, the violation if Othello love and his humanity.” (xxxx) In fact, the Moor sought to kill Desdemona in hopes it would end his own suffering. I agree with the above statement in that it was not his goal to kill his wife, but it was his goal in the end to stop the betrayer that he felt, killing her in his mind would of put a stop to this feeling. This can explain why, first he was unwilling to harm her body, and second why he almost gave into his feelings and spared her life.
Throughout the play various sides of Othello are displayed. In the beginning of the play, he loves his wife and suspects no wrong doing from her, but as the play progress and the Moor comes to the conclusion that his wife is unfaithful you start to see Othello move into a darker, and almost moodier direction. In lines 1-22, Othello is distraught about the various events that lead up to him standing over his wife preparing to kill her. He still feels "love" for her, but because of the affair that Desdemona, the Moor see it as his duty to kill his wife for man kind.
In the end I feel that Shakespeare was trying to show that no matter how great or powerful a man is, he is still vulnerable to suspicion. Even though people may not go to the length that Othello did with his suspicion , they may react negatively to events, however that is because we are human and have we all have our faults.
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