THE TRAGEDY OF OTHELLO 6
TheTragedy of Othello
TheMoor of the Venice
TheMoor of the Venice is one of the extremely appealing plays authoredby William Shakespeare. It narrates the tragedies that Othello faces.Othello is always in the midst of arguments with Iago and Roderigo.He is eloquent in his speeches and he is a respectable man in hissociety. Other characters in the play include Iago, Roderigo,Desdemona, Emilia, Cassio, among others. Iago is depicted as thedesperado of the play and Othello’s ensign. Roderigo is a young,rich but foolish man. He believed that Iago can help him winDesdemona. Desdemona is the daughter of Brabanito, a Venetian senatorand a wife to Othello. Emilia is Iago wife and Cassio is Othello’slieutenant.
Theplay opens with an argument between Roderigo and Iago wherebyRoderigo complains that Iago did not alert him about a secretmarriage between Desdemona and Othello (Berry, 1972). Othello is aChristian Moor and the general of army. Desdemona is the daughter ofsenator Brabantio. Roderigo is in love with Desdemona and hadpreviously asked for her hand in marriage. On the other hand, Iago isnot happy with Othello after he picks up a man from casino, MichaelCassio, and promotes him. Iago also hates Othello because he believesthat Othello slept with his wife, Emilia. Iago plans a strategy forOthello downfall, but on the contrary, it leads to the downfall ofother people. Iago also disapprove of Cassio as a tactician withoutsolid reasons. Roderigo fails to stop the Desdemona wedding, and Iagoconvinces him to alert Desdemona father about her daughter elopement.In the meantime, Iago warns Othello that Desdemona’s father issearching him.
BeforeBrabanito gets in touch with Othello, there are breaking news thatthe Turks are about to attack Cyprus. In the meanwhile, Othello ismandated to advice the senators. Immediately after, Desdemona fatherarrives and he accuses Othello of seducing her daughter. However,Othello defend himself before the assembly that included severalsenators, Duke of Venice, Gratiano, among others. . Nonetheless,Othello and Desdemona loves each other and the two get marrieddespite against the will of Desdemona’s father.
Iagois still determined to continue with his plans. He influences Othelloto be suspicious that Cassio and his wife are having an affair.Othello drops a handkerchief that was his first gift to Desdemona,but he does not notice (Shakespeare, 1976). The handkerchief plays agreat significant meaning in their marriage. Emilia, Iago’s wife,collects it and gives it ho her husband. Iago places the handkerchiefin Cassio house as a proof that Desdemona had visited Cassio. WhenOthello discovers this, he is so hurt such that he resolves to killDesdemona. Though he does not kill him, Othello mistreat his wife,and at one time he beat her in front of Venetian nobles. One night,Othello stabs his wife to death accusing her of infidelity. In themeanwhile, Emilia, Iago, governor, and some other people arrives.Othello justify himself and uses the handkerchief as a proof ofDesdemona infidelity. Emilia explains the story behind thehandkerchief that hurt Othello to the extent of murdering Iago.Towards the end of the play, Othello commit suicide.
Thereare several motifs used in the “The Moor of the Venice” asportrayed by Marilyn French in his article “Othello, the latetragedies,” the Ralph Berry in the “Pattern in Othello” and byCharles Campbell in his article “Iago’s Orientalism: ImperialDiscourse in Othello.” Some of the motifs include sight andblindness, animals, hell, demons, and monsters. For instance, Ralphelaborates the motif of sight and blindness. Though other people donot see the importance of Othello, Desdemona appreciate what she seesin him. In Act I, scene III, the senator proposes that the Turkishretreat to Rhodes keeps one in the gaze due to its pageant (Berry,1972). People stare out to the sea to see the arrivals of the ships,either friendly or unfriendly. On the other hand, Othello is easilyconvinced of the things that he does not see. For instance, hedenounces Cassio from his lieutenant position based on what Iagotells him. Likewise, Iago uses a handkerchief to compose a storyabout Desdemona Othello accuses his mother without firstinvestigating the truth in it. In addition, when he sent Iago to killCassio, he believes that he kills him from Cassio screams. Theactions in the play depend on various characters failing to “seething.” Othello accuses his wife, though he never saw herinfidelity. Likewise, Emilio collects Desdemona handkerchief andtakes it to her husband without any idea of her husband plan. WhenOthello is stubbing her wife and he raises the issue of thehandkerchief, Emilia does not figure out that it was her husbandplan.
Further,Ralph Berry elaborates the motif of animals as it is portrayed in theplay. Iago calls Othello an “old black ram” and a “Barbaryhorse.” He also says that Othello and his wife are making him abeast with two backs. Iago tells Roderigo that his live for theguinea-hen would make him change his humanity with a baboon. Cassiosays that he behaves like a beast while drunk. At the last scene,Emilia says that she will act as a swan (Berry, 1972).
Onthe other hand, Marilyn French portrays two kinds of women who areexclusively different. One is superhuman and virtuous while the otheris a deceiver, dissembler, subhuman, and capable for any degradation.The two women are mutually exclusive. It is possible for one to crossinto the subhuman at any time, but it is complicated to convert back(French, n.d). For Othello get married to Desdemona, he totallybelieves in her. However, after the handkerchief incidence, Othellodoes not trust her anymore. Desdemona is sexual and her innocenceresides in her sexual taint. She is chaste and does not believe ininfidelity. Roderigo also idealizes Desdemona as a chaste womanhence, falling in love with her. Further, Cassio also praises her anddefines her as a great divine, paragon, and a high captain.
CharlesCampbell uses motifs of hell, demons, and monsters in his article“Iago’s Orientalism: Imperial Discourse in Othello”. Iago warnsOthello of the jealous green-eyed monster (Campbell, 1990).Correspondingly, Emilia describes jealousy as a harmful monster. Onthe other hand, Othello experiences imagination of hell toward theend of the play. He is preoccupies with religious and moral judgmentof his wife and himself especially after he receives the news thathis wife is unfaithful. After Othello learns that Iago lied that hiswife is engaged in a love affair with Cassio, he calls him a demonand a devil several times. Shortly before Othello commits suicide, hewishes for physical and spiritual torture in hell. He cries out fordevils to pick him and roast him in hot sulphur.
Apartfrom the above motifs, the play also uses plants motif to developsome major themes. Iago is preoccupied with plants. In most of hisspeeches, he extensively uses vegetable metaphors and conceits. Forinstance, he urges that our bodies are gardens and our wills are thegardeners (Shakespeare, 1976). In some other time, Iago uses theexample of fruits. He tells how they blossom in sun and later ripen.According to him, people are like plants, which if they remainunchecked they would grow wild. At most times, Iago uses plants andvegetables within his surrounding to pass information in a hiddenformat.
Berry,R. (1972). Pattern in Othello. ShakespeareQuarterly,3-19.
French,M. (n.d.). Marilyn French: Othello. MarilynFrench: Othello.Retrieved May 23, 2014, fromhttp://www2.idehist.uu.se/distans/ilmh/Ren/sh-othello-french.htm
CampbellC. (1990). Iago’s Orientalism: Imperial Discourse in Othello.Shakespeare Quarterly, 20-36.
Shakespeare,W., & Walter, J. H. (1976). Thetragedy of Othello, the moor of Venice.London: Heinemann.