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Category: Common App Essay

Subcategory: Classic English Literature

Level: Academic

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

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In 1603, William Shakespeare wrote a tragic play entitled, “Othello.” The story mainly revolves around four distinct characters that are closely related. Othello is among the army men present in Venice. The other characters are Desdemona, his wife and his junior officer, Iago. Lastly, the playwright portrays Cassio as Othello’s trusted lieutenant. There are also minor characters present in the play. Additionally, there are various themes in the play such as race, love, jealousy, revenge, and betrayal, among others (Kay, n.d). The play encounters a tragic ending instigated by Othello’s gullibility. However, there is contemplation of the cause of this end. It is not Iago’s manipulation, but Othello’s gullibility, which creates the play’s tragic ending.
As a powerful black man, Othello significantly influences the land of Venice. He holds a prominent position in the army which assists him in ruling the army men. Othello draws a lot of jealousy from others due to his stature in Venice (Kay, n.d). However, Othello lacks certain characteristics that are evident in military men. He does not exhibit intelligence thus allows Iago to influence and manipulate his thinking. Clearly, there is an obvious compromise in Othello’s ability to judge human behavior. His reactions toward Iago’s manipulation render him a poor judge of character. Othello fails to believe in Desdemona, his wife; and his closest ally, Cassio. The playwright also portrays that Othello is not in control of his character. He allows other characters to manipulate him and make his final decisions. Also, it is important to note that Othello plays a great role in the ending of the play. It is clear that his confidence may have altered the plot of the play. For this reason, the playwright emphasizes Othello’s gullibility, and not Iago’s manipulation.
Shakespeare depicts that Othello’s gullibility may have been caused by various things. As a man of color, Othello is insecure about his looks. His lack of self-acceptance causes him to lose trust in his wife thus believing Iago’s claims. The latter accuses Desdemona of having an affair with Cassio, and he convinces Othello to believe the same. For this reason, his thinking is clouded thus he foolishly believes in Iago and his falsehood. Othello’s low self-esteem forces him to lose trust in himself as well. Due to his gullibility, he allows Iago to manipulate and control him. His lack of confidence and self-esteem ultimately leads to the tragic happenings in Othello’s life.
“Haply, for I am black,” said Othello to Iago, “And have not those soft parts of conversation that chamberers have, or for I am declined into the value of the years- yet that’s not much- she’s gone” (III.iii. 268-272)
“Ay, there’s no point. As to be bold with you, not to affect many proposed matches of her clime, complexion and degree” said Iago to Othello (III.iii. 234)
This dialogue between Othello and Iago clearly depicts the former’s lack of self-confidence. He is convinced that his skin color and his age result in Desdemona’s infidelity. Othello is certain that his attributes contribute to the tragic happenings in his marriage. It is unfortunate that Iago strives to dupe Othello into believing that his personal characteristics do not please Desdemona. In fact, he manipulates Othello and convinces him that he is not in Desdemona’s class apropos of male figures. As a result, Othello appears to be hurt and emotional (III.iii.166). His lack of self-confidence makes it easy for Iago to influence and control him.
“And yet how nature, erring from itself” said Othello to Iago (III.iii.233)
Furthermore, Iago plans to initiate a rough patch between Cassio and Othello. He wants the latter to believe that Cassio and Desdemona are having an affair. Iago’s wife comes across a handkerchief belonging to Desdemona and hands it to him (Shakespeare 330). Unbeknownst to her, he plans to use it as evidence to support Cassio’s and Desdemona’s affair. Iago informs Othello about the handkerchief and lies to him that Cassio is sleeping with Desdemona (III.iii.34-38).
“I know not that, but such a handkerchief. I am sure it was your wife’s, did I today see Cassio wipe his beard with.” Said Iago to Othello (III. iii.34-38)
The playwright depicts that Othello believes in Iago, and he is furious with Desdemona. He has easily convinced hence prevalence of his gullibility over Iago’s manipulation. Othello is certain that Desdemona is sleeping with Cassio.
In another instance, it is observed that Othello does not regard Desdemona’s words. Iago has interfered with his thinking thus turning him against his wife. His gullible nature makes it easier for Iago to forge on with his wrong deeds. In point of fact, he abuses his wife, almost referring to her as a prostitute. Desdemona is unable to alter Othello’s thinking due to Iago manipulative instances. As he fully believes Iago, he does not offer his wife the chance to explain herself.
His impulse causes Desdemona’s death that fateful night. Unfortunately, Othello uses a pillow to smother his wife to death; and blames his actions on her adulterous nature when Emilia enters their room (III.iii.360). After learning the truth, Othello hates himself and commits suicide.
“When I have plucked thy rose, I cannot give it vital growth again. It must needs wither” says Othello (V.ii.13-15)
“Strumpet, I come. Forth of my heart those charms, thine eyes, are blotted. Thy bed, lust-stained, shall with lust’s blood be spotted” says Othello (V.i.35-37)
“He’s gone. But his wife’s killed” (V.ii.243-245)
The tragic end is depicted by the many instances of betrayal, revenge, manipulation and murders. Clearly, as earlier mentioned, Othello is a poor judge of character. He is loyal to those individuals that are disloyal to him. He instantly believes Iago’s words and does not care for the input of other people. When Iago warns him about Desdemona’s father, he blindly believes him without any questions (Shakespeare 19). It is evident that his gullibility is the beginning of the tragic happenings in the play.
Furthermore, he chooses Iago over his wife, Desdemona. He does not inquire about the affair from Desdemona but, instead concludes using Iago’s sentiments. The right thing would be to learn his wife’s side of the story before concluding impulsively (Shakespeare 117,119). The playwright delineates that Othello has the power to prevent Iago’s manipulative occurrences. However, he chooses to believe in Iago, his junior office. It is also ironical that Cassio is rendered Othello’s most trusted lieutenant, yet he believes Iago. In this instance, the playwright portrays that Othello is easily fooled. He is easily duped into believing lies, as observed in the play. It is not Iago’s manipulation, but Othello’s gullibility, which causes the play’s tragic ending.
This paper succinctly examines “Othello”, a tragic play by Shakespeare. The prior mentioned themes have also been clearly depicted in the paper. Due to love and jealousy, there is a tragic ending resulting from betrayal and revenge. Unlike most playwrights, Shakespeare creates a unique twist in play’s ending. The characters murder one another while others; such as Iago undergo extreme punishments for their actions. The paper supports the thesis statement that renders Iago as the evil person. It is salient that Othello is portrayed as the tragic character in Shakespeare’s play. His gullible nature clouds his rational thinking hence he instigates the tragic ending in this play. Othello puts his trust and belief in the wrong person thus he suffers dire consequences. The playwright focuses more on Othello’s misdeeds regarding the tragedy in the play. Indeed, it is not Iago’s manipulation, but Othello’s gullibility, which causes the tragic ending in Shakespeare’s play.
Works Cited
Kay, Karen. The Publishing and Performance History of Othello. Retrieved from: http://www.britaininprint.net/shakespeare/study_tools/publishing_performance_othello.html
Shakespeare, William. Othello, the Moor of Venice; with related readings. Montreal: EMC/Paradigm Publishing, 2005. Print.
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice. England: Thomas Walkley, 1622. Print.