Date of publication: 2017-08-29 21:16
In Othello , there are three women: Desdemona (upper class), Emilia (middle class), and Bianca (lower class). They also be categorized by their level of speech: Desdemona goes from being unquiet to quiet, while Emilia goes from being quiet to unquiet. (Bianca remains relatively quiet the entire play). Desdemona is a hero in Act I, but Emilia is the hero of Act V and overall.
Emilia moves just the other way. Sure, Iago complains that she won't shut up, Emilia is rather quiet when we meet her in Act II. In her private conversations with Desdemona, however, we see that Emilia is the modern woman that Desdemona was in Act I. Emilia says that men exploit women: men are "stomachs, and we are but food." Finally, after Desdemona's murder, Emilia becomes the unquiet woman, openly disobeying her husband when his reputation and life are on the line: Iago says, "Get you home." Emilia replies, "I will not!"
5. Analyze one or more of the play&rsquo s bizarre comic scenes: the banter between Iago and Desdemona in Act II, scene i the drinking song in Act II, scene iii the clown scenes (Act III, scenes i and iv). How do these scenes echo, reflect, distort, or comment on the more serious matter of the play?
At the end of Othello, Desdemona seems to be the most passive kind of victim. Smothered, deprived of breath and of words by her husband, she is totally overwhelmed by Othello&rsquo s insane jealousy and physical strength. But before her murder, Desdemona is remarkable for showing more passivity when her husband is not around and more assertiveness when he is.
But, after her marriage to Othello and move to Cyprus, Desdemona becomes an unquiet victim of male dominance. Desdemona seems like two different characters: why would the outspoken, rebellious Desdemona of Act I suddenly become silent, willingly letting Othello strangle her in Act V?
The force of evil in "Othello" has its origin, "like the origin of everything else in the tragedy, in the character of its hero," Mark Van Doren wrote. It is Othello who is guilty. Iago is able to plant his cruel seeds of jealousy only because Othello's character is so thoroughly prepared to receive them. To blame Desdemona's death on Iago is to turn Othello into a pawn, and that violates the purpose of tragedy, which is to show a hero brought down by his own flaws.
Those are the human emotional engines that drive Shakespeare's play and that have made it so powerful for so many different audiences for so many years. They are at risk in any modern production, where the fact that Othello is black and Desdemona white is likely to cast a longer shadow than it did in Shakespeare's time.
Kenneth Branagh has had great success with his own films of Shakespeare ("Henry V" and " Much Ado About Nothing "). He is currently at work on a "Hamlet" that will star Robin Williams and Billy Crystal - as Rosencranz and Guildenstern, I hope, not Hamlet and Polonius. He has toured in Shakespeare and is a master of the cadence of the words, so his ease in the dialogue acts as a contrast to the others.
Out of sheer desperation, Iago gets possession of Othello's handkerchief, manages to transfer to Cassio's possession, then contrives to have Othello see Cassio toying with it with Bianca. It is this handkerchief that leads to Desdemona's death, but it is also this handkerchief that leads to Iago's exposure and downfall. Emilia proclaims to many witnesses that Iago had her steal the handkerchief (the ocular proof) from Desdemona and give it to him.
Often in Shakespeare s plays such as Hamlet or King Lear , the title character is the main character and protagonist. In Othello this is not the case. Iago has almost 75% more lines than Othello, and has more asides with the audience. While it is Othello s decisions and actions that provide the dramatic structure for the play, it is Iago who sets in motion those decisions and spurs him to action. Othello is the tragic figure of the play, along with Desdemona, and it his characteristics that lend itself to most of the themes - jealousy, race, trust. However, Iago is the character who drives the plot.
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