Othello And Iago Comparison: Divergent Personalities And Motivations In Othello

Othello is a story of jealousy and manipulation. The story of a man who believes that he deserves to have everything he wants. Suppose anything gets in the way, he may ridicule, manipulate or even fight to move it. Othello uses several different types of elements in the drama. Symbolism, Irony, and Conflict are all elements that can be found in Othello.

Exploring Symbolism in Othello

First, let’s discuss an element that is found in this drama. Symbolism is used a couple of different times in the drama. One is the word honesty. The word honesty presents itself throughout the play meaning different things at each time. Some examples are the honesty of women, honesty to self, speaking the truth, and being an honest and loving friend. Honest may mean one thing but depending on which part of the drama you’re reading may depend on exactly what is being discussed when it comes to honesty. A symbol of this is the handkerchief that was given to Desdemona by Othello. Desdemona thought of the handkerchief as Othello’s love for her. The last symbol was the song “Willow” that Desdemona sang when preparing for bed. The song was about a woman who was betrayed by her lover, suggesting that men are unfaithful. Desdemona felt that she was being alienated from Othello’s affections and that if he was going crazy like she assumed he was, he would leave her.

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Dramatic Irony in Othello

Another element that was used in the drama was Irony. The irony is used when Iago uses personal dishonesty, such as lies and deceit, to convince Othello that his wife, Desdemona, is cheating on him. While Iago leads Othello to believe this, Iago is acting as if he is looking out for him as his friend. What Othello doesn’t know is that Iago is out to get him and gain power from him. This was the Dramatic Iron in the drama. We, the audience, knew that Desdemona was innocent and did not cheat on Othello and that Iago was out to rob everyone. The audience views characters in Othello in many different ways, especially when dramatic Irony causes the reader/audience to view a character differently than what another character in the drama may think of them. Othello is a very diverse play in that it holds many different elements but also gives the audience a chance to interpret the story.

Conflict and Theme in Othello

The conflict of the drama was that Othello and Desdemona were married, living life together despite any differences, until Iago came along and let greed get in his way so that he would convince Othello that Desdemona was unfaithful. The Theme of the drama was jealousy, hatred, loyalty, manipulation, and power. Loyal means two different things. Iago was loyal to himself so that he would accomplish what he wanted, but another example was that men were loyal to women, or Iago’s men were loyal to him. The characters in this drama were pretty complex, and trying to analyze each one tended to be more difficult than usual. First, let’s talk about Othello, who was the protagonist and hero. He was the most powerful figure, but sometimes, he seemed to be the most vulnerable.

Character Complexity and Conclusion

He was well respected but had serious insecurities because of his age and race. Desdemona was Othello’s wife. She was determined to get what she wanted to a certain extent. She was self-driven and would have defended her marriage at any given point in time.

Next is Iago, who is the villain. He was envious of Othello and wanted everything he had. Iago was mind driven by his emotions, which he let get the best of him. He let greed get in the way of things, which took him over and made him crazy, which ended in death. Othello was a complex drama with many different elements used in serious portrayals. I wouldn’t necessarily say it was a feminist piece, but it did hold some traits of feminism. As for emotions and feeling being hidden, no.

I do believe that things tended to be written out on how characters felt and even how the audience should feel. There is a power struggle between Othello and Iago as characters. Othello is the main character, but with most of the drama surrounding Iago, it seems that he way wants the spotlight. My personal conclusion as a reader would have to be that if people want something bad enough, they will let their emotions get the best of them.

Some things just aren’t to be, and being a person and being okay with what you have already is a big part of life. Being content is a struggle, but only fight for what’s yours when it comes around, and don’t take anyone else’s fame. It’s not yours. If you are patient, yours will come around.

Works Cited

  1. Shakespeare, W. (1603). Othello, The Moor of Venice.
  2. Smith, Ian. “Race and Racial Difference in Othello.” Journal of Early Modern Cultural Studies, vol. 11, no. 1, 2011, pp. 45-69.
  3. Heilman, Robert B. “Magic in Othello.” Shakespeare Quarterly, vol. 5, no. 3, 1954, pp. 365-374.

Othello And Desdemona’s Relationship: An Analysis Of Racial Influences

Racial Prejudices and Othello’s Identity

During this time, there were a lot of racist ideals directed toward blacks. Blacks were seen as inferior and didn’t deserve anything good happening to them. Iago and Brabantio have described Othello in bad ways. Towards the beginning of the book, Iago says to Brabantio, “Do you service and think we are ruffians, you’ll / have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse,/you’ll have your nephews neigh to you, you’ll have /coursers for cousins and jennets for germans.” “Barbary Horse” references where Africa, which is where throughout the book, people think Othello is from. Iago refers to Othello as a horse by showing how Othello is viewed as inhuman in the eyes of Iago and possibly those around him. Iago made it seem like, in the eyes of society, his family would be a bunch of animals if Othello and Desdemona were to have children.

Society’s Perception of Othello and Desdemona’s Relationship

Strong racist ideals have been expressed toward Othello, and lots of people doubt his abilities. At this time, white women were seen as treasures that only the best men could have. Since Othello was able to have Desdemona, there was uncertainty about Othello and Desdemona’s relationship. In the eyes of some of those around them, the relationship between Othello and Desdemona is seen as unrealistic, and they are together for some reason that is not love. In relation to this, Brabantio stated, “Whether a maid so tender, fair, and happy,/ So opposite to marriage that she shunned/ The wealthy curlèd of our nation,/ Would ever have, incur a general mock,” (1.2.85-88). Brabantio described his daughter as “tender, fair, and happy,” he thought that she was content with her life and was as innocent as all the other women at the time. He believed that she ignored all the suitable men that were good enough for her to marry and decided to marry the worst candidate, Othello.

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Brabantio’s Disapproval and the Prevalence of Racism

When speaking about Othello and Desdemona’s relationship, he states, “[t]hat thou hast practiced on her with foul charms,/ Abused her delicate youth with drugs or minerals/ That weakens motion. I’ll have ‘t disputed on.” (1.2.92-94). Brabantio believes that Othello poisoned Desdemona, and that was the only way that Desdemona would actually love him. The thought of an international marriage was unspeakable and seen as something that most people didn’t think was good. Regardless of Othello’s status and power, his skin color is the main thing that defines what kind of person he is. His skin color defined what he was meant to do and who he was meant to be with. Being a high-ranking officer and marrying Desdemona is something that only white men would be able to do. His skin color made him incapable of the innocent and fair love of a white woman in the eyes of Brabantio.

Iago’s Manipulation and Othello’s Internalized Racism

Iago knows that Othello has all this racism towards him and knows that he’s not confident in his relationship with Desdemona due to his race. Iago played on Othello’s doubts and made him burst with jealousy and made him more prone to believing that Desdemona cheated on him. Othello is a strong character with the best thoughts of everyone in mind, but when the racist ideals come into play, it would make sense how Othello would react in the harsh manner that he did. When Othello reacts in a bad way towards Iago, stating that Desdemona cheated on him with Cassio, it makes sense to Othello that such a thing has occurred. Since Cassio is white, the idea that Cassio is more worthy compared to Othello due to his skin color has been engraved into his mind. Othello has internalized all this racism and doubt, it is too much for him, and now it is coming out.

Works Cited

  1. Shakespeare, W. (1603). Othello, The Moor of Venice.
  2. Barthelemy, A. G. (1987). Critical Essays on Shakespeare’s Othello. G. K. Hall & Co.
  3. Neill, M. (2006). Othello: A Critical Reader. Arden Shakespeare.
  4. Hall, K. (1995). Things of Darkness: Economies of Race and Gender in Early Modern England. Cornell University Press.
  5. Snyder, S. (2007). Shakespeare and the Construction of Identity. Oxford University Press.

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