feedback on a level english lit essayWatch
warning the second paragraph isnt finished because of brain fog and im struggling to come up with another paragraph topic
the question is to explore the significance of aspects of dramatic tragedy and the extract given is from iagos soliloquy from act 1 scene 3
i think i should comment more on structure and i should set up more debate but im open to more feedback
Othello is looked to be a quintessential example of a dramatic tragedy considering Shakespeare’s crafting of the malcontent and skilful tragic downfall of the hero. Themes of deception and manipulation help propel the play forwards and the use of structure assists this. In this essay, I will outline the most significant aspects of dramatic tragedy displayed in this passage and the entire play.
Conceivably, the most tragic aspect of Othello is how beguiling Iago truly is as well as how he utilises this trait to wreak havoc and chaos. Iago draws out and capitalises on each character’s hamartia to bring about their tragic downfall. In this extract. Iago consciously deceives Roderigo as he takes advantage of his naivete and desperation to be with Desdemona. His final line to Roderigo is a comforting one, ‘No more of drowning, do you hear?’ suggesting wariness of his wellbeing. The supportive tone of his words misguides both Roderigo and the audience. Shakespeare does this to convey the extent of Iago’s duplicity. Any belief that Iago has compassion for Roderigo is immediately displaced as he performs his soliloquy. Immediately, he remarks, ‘Thus do I ever make my fool my purse’. This dramatic shift in tone illustrate the idea that Iago does not value Roderigo as a person and uses him for his own gain, a Machiavellian trait. He reduces him to being a purse, his only function being a tool for Iago’s machinations. We see the extent of Iago’s calculating ways beyond Roderigo as he identifies Othello’s fatal flaw, his ‘free and open nature’, triggering Othello’s tragic downfall. Iago notes this quality and crafts a plan in which he plots to subvert it. Iago displays an ability to identify qualities within a character and bring forth their tragic downfall. However, critics such as F.R. Leavis believe that Iago is “merely ancillary” for the other character’s actions and he shines a light on everyone’s true nature such as Othello’s jealousy. Another example of Iago consciously deceiving other characters is in Act 1, Scene 2 when he is conversing with Othello about his marriage and Brabantio and he swears ‘by Janus’. Janus is a two-faced Roman God, reflecting Iago’s own disingenuous and manipulative nature. His open declarations of deceit make Othello’s downfall increasingly tragic as the hero was presented with so many opportunities to stop Iago carrying out his devastating schemes. Iago will present Othello with a loyal face and will subsequently plot against him behind his back, all whilst keeping the protagonist’s trust. This will invoke a feeling of distrust between the audience and the antagonist. Traditionally, soliloquys act as a device for characters to express their honest feelings but the audience may feel some resistance to believe Iago because of how untrustworthy he is. Some may argue, he warns us of this with the line ‘I am not what I am’, an alteration of a biblical verse. Overall, Iago is presented as a cunning malcontent who is relentless in achieving his goals, bringing about the tragic downfall of the titular character and others in his conquest.
Another poignant aspect of dramatic tragedy is the theme of revenge and the motiveless malignity of Iago. Spite and hatred seem to drive him at times but at other points, it feels as if it's done out of boredom or for his entertainment. In the extract, he labels Roderigo a ‘fool’. Historically, fools would perform in courts for royalty to entertain guests. This highlights Iago’s need for entertainment as if he were a puppeteer orchestrating a show. This is further reinforced in Act 1, Scene 1 when Roderigo retorts, ‘that thou, Iago, who hast had my purse as if the strings were thine’. The significance of the strings implies that Iago is a puppeteer, manipulating the actions of Othello, Desdemona, Cassio and more. Furthermore, the meta-performative elements of the play strengthen the feeling that Iago is putting on a show for his own entertainment. He puts on performances to convince the characters of false narratives to get closer to his own goals. Samuel Coleridge was confounded by Shakespeare’s ability to create an antagonist adjacent to the devil whilst remaining human; ‘A being next to the devil... only not quite the devil’. At the time of writing this, the Devil was considered a much more powerful, influential force on everyday life. Shakespeare’s skilful construction of the malcontent affects the audience in such a way that they feel they are watching the devil. In a biblical context, Satan is said to be driven by pride, parallel to Iago. He says he causes the pain he does for the ‘mere suspicion’ that Othello slept with his wife. He isn’t even sure of the claim’s validity, indicating this is as a retaliation towards his wife’s affair or it is simply entertainment for him.
I haven''t received a predicted grade yet. I assume we will get them after our first mock exams in January.