An Essay On Othello's Physiological Journey From Total Self Control To Near Madness And Back

1143 words - 5 pages

OTHELLO ESSAYPHYSIOLOGICAL JOURNEY OF OTHELLOIn the Shakespearean tragedy Othello, the character of Othello has certain traits, which make him seem naïve and unsophisticated, compared to other people.The Moor, as many Venetians call him, is of a strong character. He is very proud and in control of every move throughout the play. The control is not only of power, but also of the sense of his being a great warrior. In Act I, Othello has a scuffle with Brabantio, who has come to kill him, but before anything could happen Othello says,"Hold your hands,Both of you of my inclining and the rest.Were it my cue to fight, I should have known it without a prompter"(1, ii, 80-83). The power shown here is quite astounding.The nature of Othello's character is of a dark man. A dark man, not only because he is black, but also because his whole person is very mysterious. He is mysterious in the sense that he believes there is magic brewing everywhere. With this dark side, he is also very outgoing, and not very bright. He is not observant and the schemes of Iago work well on him. This is because of his big inner flaw of being open to jealousy"It is the green-eyed monster, which doth mockThe meat it feeds on." that reduces the jealous man to nothing. (Iago, 3, iii, 166).Firstly, it is his proleptic imagination that not only feeds on hints and suggestions given by Iago, but also leaps ahead of the information supplied."In Venice they do let heaven see the pranksThey dare not show their husbands". (Iago, 3, iii, 202-203).Secondly, it is his quixotic dimension where he idealizes chivalric behaviour and is offended disproportionately when he perceives it to be broken. He is a romantic in the sense that he imagines the drama of life to be played out on an epic scale divorced from reality. This is his quixotic dimension, which, in physiological terms, can be seen as paranoia. A good example of this is Othello's 'farewell' speech-"Farewell the plumed troops ... Othello's occupation gone!" (3, iii, 347-355).This shows us how superficial he is because he loves the sights and sounds of war so much that he is starting to get depressed in fear of losing not only his job, but also his whole way of life. A good example of him becoming drowned in jealousy is when he accuses Desdemona of being a whore-"Was this fair paper, this most goodly book, (4, ii, 70-71).Made to write 'whore' upon?""Are you not a strumpet?" (4, ii, 81)."What, not a whore?" (4, ii, 84).This shows that he has really been sucked into Iago's whirlpool of lies and is determined to get justice by killing the innocent Desdemona.By having his ancient, Honest Iago, bring him the news of his wife's bad habits, Othello had no alternative but to believe in Iago's razor sharp intellect. Iago does not just tell him, but he tells him with such an excellent manipulating ability, that it is hard not to believe him. He is such a motiveless malignant person and is so amoral, that he does not care about anyone's feelings that he hurts to achieve his goal. He uses Roderigo as a scapegoat to such an extent that he uses him to do all the dirty work to the point of his own death because of threatening and irritating Iago. Iago sees an opportunity to get rid of him and Cassio, both at the same time, and makes good uses of it by wiping out Roderigo. His razor sharp intellect and his acute sense of strategy are the key for his success. He never has second thoughts about doing something as he has the willingness to take decisive action immediately. Among his other salient features include his acerbic wit towards cruel 'put downs' of Emilia.Though he does not reflect too much on his past, except occasional ventures of wars fought, he does let his emotions run his life. The control over any situation is one of Othello's strong characteristics. Through the whole first act you can picture a man with so much power and natural leadership that when he changes, you cannot believe it.After realizing Othello has been tricked into believing the lies of Iago, Cassio cannot handle the anguish of knowing that he had murdered her in jealousy rather than for justice. This devastation in Othello's character brings the strong warrior back into the scene, where he transforms into his own judge and jury, and sentences himself. He asks the people around him for one last favour-"Speak of me as I am. Nothing extenuate,Nor set down aught in malice ... Perplexed in the extreme". (5, ii, 339-343).This clearly shows him returning back to his senses and realizing his mistakes. After his speech, he takes out a knife and stabs himself and says-"I kissed thee ere I killed thee. No way but this,Killing myself, to die upon a kiss" (5, ii, line 359-60) and dies with dignity falling on top of Desdemona.Othello is jealous. He gets told his wife was cheating on him and he thinks he is killing her for justice. He even says he loves 'not wisely but too well'. His journey from total self-control to near madness is clearly reflected in his language. At the start and in the end, his language is highly elevated and sophisticated. But in his period of near insanity, he speaks his heart out and does not care to speak elegantly. His language and tone is rough and harsh because of all the pain he is going through at present. This play introduces changes in Othello's character and whenever these changes evolve, there is Iago lurking and waiting for the chance to jump in and take advantage of it. This is why my belief of Othello is of a man whose character is brought to light because of a horrible situation created by a fraudulent devil named Iago.


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