THE TRAGEDY OF OTHELLO, THE MOOR OF VENICE 6
Thetragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice
Thetragedy of Othellois a play that concerns to suspected disloyalty and murder. It is astory of a great and respected man Othello, whose body and soul weredestroyed by the hatred of an unnecessary villain. In this tragedyplay, Shakespeare presents Othello as an enthusiastic soldier, noble,courteous, and dignified. This play is characterized by themes ofjealousy, deceit, and adultery. The setting of this play is regardedas the most painful and has provoked fear and pity to the audiencesfor many years. This paper will analyze three articles “Pattern inOthello” (1972), by Ralph Berry, “Iago’s Orientalism: ImperialDiscourse in Othello” (2011), by Charles Campbell and“Shakespeare`s Division of Experience” (1982), by Marilyn Frenchin order to give a critical insight into the tragedy of Othello.
Inhis article “Pattern in Othello”, Ralph Berry attempts to providea symbolic interpretation of the play with a natural, psychologicalreading (p.64). He argues that the most important pattern of eviland good is outstanding in this play. Simply, he demonstrates aclear-cut pattern that literally divides good and evil throughvarious characters. Thus, Iago and Othello relationship issignificant in symbolizing this pattern which can also be linked toheaven and earth a symbolic aspect of good conquered by evil. Iagorepresents extreme evil all through the play, since there were noreal motives to harm Othello and his marriage. Iago’s evilcharacter makes Othello believe that Desdemona, his wife wasunfaithful. Clearly, Othello demonstrates the interaction of giganticforces of good and evil, as well as hate and love. This play pairsthe most cold-blooded villain with a hero who is strong and warm–hearted. The evil forces speedily attacks and awakens a dormantpassion that turns into a love and hate conflict. On the other hand,both the character of Othello and Desdemona represent truth evidencedby the real love they show to each other. Nevertheless, their love isturned into hate as the play develops due to Iago’s jealously andeagerness to destroy their love (Berry, 1972).
Onthe other hand, Campbell in his article “Iago’s Orientalism:Imperial Discourse,” presents orientalism as the only discourseshaping this society. According to him, imperial discourse ispresented using characters to demonstrate which race or culture iscivil, savage or fair and dark. Iago’s discourse on female isdemonstrated in his reducing all of them into whores as a way todestroy Othello. As a result, most women end up as victims of hisimperialist discourse such as Desdemona who he paints as a lustfuladulterous woman. On the other hand, Othello is presented as a victimof racism and is attacked because he belongs to another culturerather that the Venetian society. Consequently, Iago demonstrates howstrangers with different in color skin are related with negativepersonalities such as cruelty and wickedness. Alternatively, Othellowas disliked for his association with a Venetian woman. As a result,he became a victim to the schemes of the white man where some demandsof Orientalism have to be fulfilled. Additionally, Othello isdespised and envied for holding a respected position in a countryhosting him. Consequently, this caused suffering since Iago believesthat he deserves not success and value. Moreover, when Othelloprefers Cassio as his lieutenant instead of Iago, it is evident howhe is determined to destroy him. In summary, this tragedy playsdemonstrates the evil and destructive power encountered by humankind.Othello can be described as a representation of human experienceuniversally, particularly in countries where racism is prominent(Shakespeare, 1998).
Furthermore,Campbell argues that Othello’s tragedy is as a result of directedmisreading and misinterpretation of things such as the handkerchief(p.16). In addition, Iago disapproves the relationship betweenOthello and Desdemona because they are from two different cultures.It is for this reason, Othello go through inferiority complex. Insummary, the drama is a clash of two cultures. In summary, Iago’sis successful in his orientalist ways that are destructive to Othellowho is a victim of cultural misreading. Through the story of thehandkerchief, Shakespeare demonstrates the operations of imperialdiscourse (Campbell, 2011).
Othello,an article by Marilyn demonstrates how Shakespeare regarded males andfemales in this play. The most convincing and meaningful ideas inthis article scenes is the principle of masculinity demonstrated bythe fact that the author’s attitudes has reversed into regardingfemales as more powerful compared to males. In this play, Shakespeareexplores the “male innate fear of female sexuality” through theway they treat women in the society. Venice is the dominant culturein this play and rooted in all the characters including non-nativeVenetians like Othello and Cassio. The theme of masculinity isexplicit when powerful women control men because of their sexuality.Iago caused havoc since he supposed that Othello had slept withEmilia his wife. The power of women sexuality over men is revealed inthis incidence which was based on mere assumptions and rumors. On theother hand, Othello is totally devastated by Desdemona’sunfaithfulness and although he is her husband he does not possess anycontrol over her sexual prowess (French, 1982).
Themotif that is not mentioned in the three articles is the plant motif.This motif is associated with Iago who is weirdly preoccupied withplants in most of his speeches. His elaborate use of vegetablemetaphors can be seen in his speech “Ourbodies are our gardens, to which our wills are gardeners so that ifwe will plant nettles or sow lettuce, set hyssop and weed up thyme…the power and corrigible authority of this lies in our will.”The other example that demonstrate this metaphor is “Thoughother things grow fair against the sun, / Yet fruits that blossomfirst will first be ripe”(349–350) This two examples gives an explanation of how Iago ispreoccupied with the plant metaphor, as well as it function in theplay. In this play, characters are seen to be affected by certainforeseeable forces, which grow wild if left unchecked. As a result ofIago’s conniving ways, the other characters are consumed. Thus, hisevils are similar to that force of nature (Shakespeare, 1998).
Inconclusion, this paper has analyzed three articles that give acritical insight into the tragedy of Othello. While Ralph Berryanalyses the characters using an outstanding pattern of evil and goodin this play, Marylyn French focuses on the principle of masculinityusing various characters. Finally, Campbell in his article exploresthe concept of Orientalism and Imperialism shaping this society. Additionally, the plant motif within the play is also analyzed.
Berry,R. (1972). Pattern in Othello. ShakespeareQuarterly,23: 3-19.
Campbell,C. (2011). Iago’s Orientalism: Imperial Discourse in Othello.International Journal of Arabic-English Studies(IJAES). SultanQ1aboos University. 12: 9-22.
French,M. (1982). Shakerspeare`sDivision of Experience.London: Abacus.
Shakespeare,W. (1998). FourGreat tragedies: Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth. NewYork:New American Library.