- Term Papers and Free Essays

Othello's Research Paper

Essay by   •  November 9, 2010  •  3,194 Words (13 Pages)  •  1,664 Views

Essay Preview: Othello's Research Paper

Report this essay
Page 1 of 13

Among Aristotle's terms in depicting terms in his model of human characteristics is hamartia. Hamartia is when one's flaw or weakness is his or her error or transgression. In William Shakespeare's "Othello," Othello's hamartia is the misconception he has "of himself as being uncouth, poorly spoken, and old; and because he begins to believe that his fair wife, Desdemona, cannot love him, he starts to believe that she is guilty of infidelity. "(classicnote).

Maurice Charney's "Shakespeare on Love and Lust" states that love in a comedy "acts as a generator of plot...The assumption is that the perturbations of love are a prelude to the triumph of love in the end; they provide a kind of education in adversity" (29). The phrase "education in adversity" means that there will be obstacles designed to make lovers question just how much they love. In comedy, this education proves hopeful; it illustrates that lovers will overcome this adversity. There is no burden on the characters to fight their way through the obstacles of love because what Charney calls "plot magic" exists (29).

Charney's idea of a cure-all 'plot magic' has been erased in the tragedy Othello, therefore making the characters condemned to endure their educations in love without the help of a plot. In tragedy the obstacles are designed to impede "perfect love," that remains unconquerable. There is no longer the possibility for the characters to learn the same lessons of "triumph, wit, and devotion" that love in comedy teaches (30). These intractable obstacles in Othello are Othello and Desdemona themselves. The love between Othello and Desdemona proves to be destroyed because both of them stand in the way of a comedic and successful "education in adversity."

Othello could quite well be jealous of Brabantio's relationship with his daughter, Desdemona. Quite possibly, to move up in the ranks of social mobility, Othello believed that Brabantio would love him one day and respect him, too as a son-in-law. Othello's jealousy burns inside him because his pride is on the line when he doubts Desdemona's faithfulness to him. Othello was a former slave and had a hard time being loved unconditionally. He felt loved by those he fought battles for. Desdemona loving him unconditionally seemed too good to be true.

When Brabantio, Desdemona's father, warns Othello that Desdemona may deceive him just as she has deceived her own father, any hope of Othello's long-term happiness is bruised. The seed of questioning Desdemona's fidelity is then planted into Othello's sub-conscious. This seed is dormant until Iago wakes it up with water by deceiving Othello into believing that his wife and Cassio are in love with each other and are having an affair. This seed then grows exponentially until it becomes the size of a forest and Othello can only kill this "forest of infidel thoughts" by killing Desdemona. Why does Othello believe what Iago tells him about his wife? All of Iago's statements are designed to make Othello jealous: "thou echoest me/as if there was some monster in thy thought/too hideous to be shown." (3.3.118-120). Iago also craftily sets Othello's jealousy on fire when he craftily adds that Cassio is "honest." (3.3.137). Iago's aloof and indifferent tone prompts Othello into believing that Cassio is lying. Iago then asks, "who has that breast so pure/that some uncleanly apprehensions/keep leets and law days?" (3.3.150). Specifically Iago addresses jealousy in reference to Othello, "It is the green-eyed monster." (3.3.180). "The 'green-eyed monster' becomes a symbol representing Othello's dark feelings spectre lurking in his mind that begins to guide his behavior. "(classicnote).

"The handkerchief, to Desdemona, symbolizes Othello's love, since it was his first gift to her. Othello thinks that the handkerchief, quite literally, is Desdemona's love; and when she has lost it, that must clearly mean that she does not love him any longer. The handkerchief also becomes a symbol of Desdemona's alleged betrayal. Othello takes it as the 'ocular proof' that his love is a whore." (classicnote in reference to 3.3.375). Shakespeare explores more than just excessive, impetuous love in portraying the Moor. Othello has been prepared for his role as a jealous, murderous husband from the beginning of the play because his love for Desdemona is suspicious. Othello immediately discloses that the love he and Desdemona share derives from his stories of war, which are strong and heroic: "She loved me for the dangers I had passed/and I loved her that she did pity them." (1.3.168-169). He explains to Iago, "But that I love the gentle Desdemona/I would not my unhoused free condition/put into circumscription and confine/for the sea's worth." (1.2.25-28). Othello tells Iago that sea treasures could not make Othello surrender his love for war and nothing could make him surrender his love for Desdemona. This shows that the power Othello derives from war describes the powerful quality of his love. It seems doubtful that the love Othello has for violent "feats of broil and battle" can be used to describe his love for Desdemona who is "of spirit so still and quiet that her motion/ blushed at herself," without compromising the safety of love (1.3.131, 1.3.96-97). In fact, when he returns from suppressing the Cyprus revolt, he calls out to Desdemona, "My fair warrior!" (2.1.180). Although Desdemona has fallen in love with Othello by listening to his "travailous history", stating that she is a "fair warrior" does not seem to be the next logical step in this context (1.3.140). In his life as a warrior, Othello has seen many beautiful sights, such as "antres vast and deserts idle/rough quarries, rocks and hills whose heads touch heaven," but he compares Desdemona, who has nothing to do with war, to war (1.3.141-143). Othello does not think of his love for Desdemona in any other terms. Charney supports this, explaining that the love story Othello tells to woo Desdemona "does not speak of love at all...but grave and portentous." (99). Othello's reaction to Desdemona's alleged treachery confirms this suspicious nature of Othello's love. Othello finds comfort in war, explaining to the senators that "The tyrant custom, most grave senators/hath made the flinty and steel couch of war/my thrice-driven bed of down." (1.3.230-232). Confronted with an adverse situation, Othello hastens to eliminate it: "I do agnize/a natural and prompt



Download as:   txt (18.9 Kb)   pdf (193.5 Kb)   docx (16.6 Kb)  
Continue for 12 more pages »
Only available on