The play Othello was written by William Shakespeare between 1600 and 1605. It is set in Cyprus. The Moor, a common name to disregard Othello, rose through the ranks in the Venetian army only to be de-ranked by the evil Iago. Othello secretly marries Desdemona, the daughter of a Venetian Senator, which is when Iago gets his plan to get rid of Othello with the help of his subordinate, Roderigo. Even though Othello loved Desdemona, Iago’s rumours of an affair between Cassio and Desdemona drive him to the brink of insanity and, at Othello’s peak of jealousy; he plans to kill Desdemona and Cassio with Iago’s help.
However, all does not go according to plan; first Cassio does not die and then the entire plot is revealed to by Iago’s wife, Emilia. At this point Othello realizes he has killed Desdemona without just cause. He commits suicide claiming that “His only crime was loving too much”. We blame Iago for the deaths that occur in the play, we also come to find that Iago’s true personality were revealed to the other characters at the end of the play, but only at the expensive of other characters lives.
The Shakespearean play of Othello was written as a drama or literary tradition in which the main character or protagonist is brought to ruin or suffers from an extreme sorrow, in this instance Othello. The tragedy in literary tradition normally revolves around a consequence or Achilles heel in which the character is exploited through a tragic flaw or inability to cope with unfavourable circumstances.
These literary traditions are common among the play “Othello” and is seen throughout the novel through several characters including Othello, Cassio, Roderigo and Iago.
The play tends to follow numerous Shakespearean literary traditions and conventions such as that William Shakespeare writes tragedies, he writes in blank verse and in iambic pentameter. Also the fact that William Shakespeare only allows the main characters to speak the truth is in his soliloquies. Another literary tradition is the fact that he always uses morals and themes; if not multiple morals and themes such as in Othello he involves characteristics such as jealousy, greed, envy, deceitfulness, power, betrayal, honesty and revenge etc.
A soliloquy is when one of the characters in the play is alone on stage and speaks to himself or herself without revealing his thoughts directly to a listener, at this moment, the character will give his true opinions as if he or she were thinking out loud. Soliloquies are important in many plays due to the fact that it fills the audience in on what’s happening or what is about to happen, such as Iago’s motives and plans. The soliloquy also allows the audience to fully trust the character in showing his or her true beliefs.
It also allows the audience to see the true traits, personality and characteristics of the character, in this instance where the characters keep referring Iago as honest Iago or good friend but in fact the audience knows that this is not true because they were filled in on the soliloquies and therefore builds a sense of dramatic irony. Dramatic irony is when the audience is filled in what has happened or what is about to happen whilst other characters remain unaware.
Early on in the play the audience comes to find that Iago is disloyal, evil and deceiving, we come to realise this when he speaks to Roderigo and he uses quotations such as “I follow him to serve my turn upon him” The quote shows that Iago is only serving Othello to his own advantageous needs, to serve Othello for his own benefits; this indicates to the audience that Iago’s intentions to do this are by being deceiving and disloyal.
During the play, Othello’s Noble character is challenged by Iago’s devious trickery, once Iago manages to figure out Othello’s Achilles heel he decides to exploit it for his own just content. Through Iago’s many qualities, Jealousy and Paranoia seem to be exaggerated throughout the play, it is because of Iago’s jealousy is of such as great extent that he is brought to bring about the downfall of Othello. I hate the Moor: and it is thought abroad, that ‘twixt my sheets he has done my office: I know not if’t be true; but I for mere suspicion in that kind, will do as if for surety. ” The quotation shows that Iago has come across rumours and suspicions that Othello has slept with his wife and that he has intentions for sweet revenge.
Iago decides that this is good enough a reason as any, even though he has no evidence whatsoever, he explains this when he says “will do as if for surety. The audience believes that this reason is inadequate and that it is only because of Othello’s good fortune that he has decided to plot his revenge against Othello. “For I fear Cassio with my nightcap too” Iago then later comments on the fact that now he suspects that Cassio has slept with his wife, the audience comes to realise that Iago either has a intense Paranoia throughout the play or whomsoever Iago feels resentful towards, he decides to add them to his plot in their demise or downfall.
Throughout the play, Iago tends to degrade those around him, whom he resents, the main perpetrator being Othello, this shows Iago’s true characteristics as he has to belittle those around him in order to better himself, he decides to include Desdemona, Emila and Othello and other characters throughout into his plot, even though they only spoke highly of him.
Iago himself plays on his honesty throughout his play, “I am not what I am”, thus the audience realises that in the end act two the quotation appears 5 times, three in which in his soliloquy alone, pleased with giving Cassio advice in which he can be reinstated, Iago asks Cassio “And what’s he then that says I play the villain, When this advice is free I give, and honest,” he appears to be giving faithful advice to Cassio – go to Desdemona and plead to her, for she controls Othello’s mind.
However, we as viewers only come to find that this advice is means for Othello to suspect his wife Emilia of sexual relations with Cassio. Iago then later describes this in his soliloquy as “divinity of hell”, as this is devilish acts being carries out. Later on in the play we find that Iago refers to those he resents as “whip me such honest knaves” the fact that he uses deception of honesty for his trickery to take place means that through honesty he is able to control those around him almost like pawns in a chest game.
Iago also uses quotes such as “The Moor is of free and open nature that thinks men honest that but seem to be so, and will as tenderly be led by the nose as asses are. ” He uses this to portray Othello as a Donkey, as he believes that Othello can be ordered to do as he pleases – in this sense, the audience knows this is through Iago’s manipulation and persuasion. This represents the true characteristics of Iago through masculinity and his dominance over other characters throughout the play. When devils will the blackest sins put on, They do suggest at first with heavenly shows, As I do now” In this Iago’s mentions that even Satan disguises himself as an angel, just as he does now. In this Iago confides that he plays two roles, one which is him in reality – his true greedy and obsessive side in which the audience finds him in his soliloquies and the other, when he is the company of others and is referred to as “honest Iago” or “good friend”.
This is where the audience is aware that this is in fact false and therefore dramatic irony. Throughout this act Iago is fully aware of his actions, the fact that his selfishness is to such a great extent that through his trickery he manages to cause grief and pain to those who are closest and dearest to him, yet he strives on caring for none but himself and only those who are yet to join his plot. As well as this references towards hell and damnation, there a several others.
One of Iago’s mentioning’s as follows “I have’t. It is engender’d. Hell and night must bring this monstrous birth to the world’s light. ” this quote suggests to the audience that Iago is saying his plot is so evil that hell and night shall give birth to it. Iago also states that “And out of her own goodness make the net, that shall enmesh them all. ” In this Iago says that he shall take Desdemona’s pure heart’s content – goodness in which he will spawn a net of destruction to ruin them all.
This is where we get the idea of Iago thinking he is better than everyone else, he even states that “plume up my will” this is when we, the audience get the idea of Iago selfishness and how he is overseeing all other characters roles to reflect his efforts in which he uses to only better his own position. Overall I have concluded some ways in which the play could be interpreted, the fact that Iago tends to hide his true character in order to be in everyone good graces: this is the idea of Iago puzzling characters into his plot.
I got this idea from the fact that he himself may love Desdemona and in that notion he decided to dispose of those who are any feelings for Desdemona other than himself. Othello is the main culprit, and thus the plot was focused on Othello’s downfall, but also Roderigo as he too had feelings for Desdemona. Another way in which the play could be interpreted is the fact that he was not promoted and so that he could achieve his sweet revenge, in order to do so he must break Othello part from part slowly (as in his references to poison throughout the play) and the thing he loves dearest – Desdemona as well as not revealing his true intentions.
I also think another way to interpret the play is discrimination; the fact Iago’s character refers to Othello with terms such as The Moor a downgrading term towards minorities, this means that Iago’s character is racist and the fact that Black individuals were hardly ever seen across Venice, means that Iago dislikes his nature and thus formed a ruse to dispose of him. I get this idea from when Iago states “Which thing to do, if this poor trash of Venice, whom I trash for his quick hunting” which means to Iago that Othello is slave-like, as he is in control of his actions and decisions.
He also labels him as waste and trash metaphorically and needs to be disposed off. Another interpretation is that Iago is jealous of Othello’s good fortune, the audience sees this at the end of the play When Iago refuses to explain himself. This may be because Iago thinks he should not repent for himself as Othello should know of his good fortune. But it may also be that it is because of Iago’s Jealousy that he has to belittle those around him in order to feel good about his own misfortune.
On the other hand, Othello is also to blame as Iago had only set forth accusations and opinions yet Othello himself decided to follow them. Some people think Iago may not be entirely at fault, as it was also Othello’s Achilles heel that led to his downfall and demise, “O, beware, my lord, of jealousy! It is the green-eyed monster” as Iago so honestly and ironically puts it during the play.