English Literature: OthelloWatch
“It is Othello’s egotism and lack of self-knowledge, and not Iago’s evil schemes, which ultimately bring about the tragedy at the end of the play”
Shakespeare presents Othello’s hubris with a direct link to his inevitable tragic fall at the end of the play. The monosyllabic sentence “let him do his spite” shows egotism in Othello as he is conveyed to believe that he is able to overcome any challenge he may face, and the upfront presentation of Iago’s villainy initiates how Iago will be the one to present the challenge that Othello cannot overcome. The fact that the sentence is monosyllabic heightens the tragedy of the play for such a simple hamartia of hubris has lead to a great change from the original high power presentation of Othello.
Further, Shakespeare presents egotism as the key flaw that blinds Othello from identifying Iago for his villainy and therefore sets up the fall from grace that follows. It is clear that Othello trusts Iago when he says “my Desdemona must I leave to thee”. The personal pronoun “my” would typically be interpreted as a sign of male dominance in the context of the patriarchal society, when the true idea Shakespeare shapes is that Othello is leaving his most precious possession in the hands of someone who is so blatantly untrustworthy- “I am not what I am”. This links to the tragic genre because without Othello’s hubris, the tragic fall from grace would arguably never have occurred so his egotism does have a huge part in leading to the end tragedy.
However, the ingenuity of Iago’s evil schemes is presented as a great contributor to the catastrophic outcome as Shakespeare centers the play majorly around the way Iago goes about the manipulation of not just Othello but all of the characters. For example, it can be argued that Desdemona is equally affected as the tragic victim for Othello goes from referring to her as “honey”- a semantic field of love, to “strumpet”- associated with a semantic field of hate when considered in context. Shakespeare uses structure to present this effect though Desdemona’s relationship with Othello. It is clear that as the play develops and as tension is built with Iago’s manipulation, more of an impact is seen on Desdemona. Further, Shakespeare uses the stage direction ‘he strikes her’ to reinforce this effect on their relationship. The harsh verb “strikes” implies the harsh conflict of emotions Othello is experiencing as his hubris leads him to his ultimate irreparable action. It is clear Othello is taking his pain out on Desdemona which heightens the sense of tragedy because Iago has cause the destruction of relationship so unique in the Elizabethan context- (“for she had eyes and chose me”). It can thus be confirmed that Iago plays an undoubtable part in the ultimate tragedy because his evil schemes affect everyone.
In conclusion, Shakespeare presents the tragic fall as a result of the combination of Othello’s egotism and Iago’s evil schemes.
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