Monday, March 31, 2014



The vision of human nature which the play offers is one of ancient terrors and primal drives—fear of the unknown, pride, greed, lust—underlying smooth, civilised surfaces—the noble senator, the competent and well-mannered lieutenant, the conventional gentlewoman (the first four characters in the table).

Othello is one of the most formally constructed of Shakespeare’s plays. Every character is balanced by another similar or contrasting character. For example:
·        Desdemona is balanced by her opposite, Iago –love and concern for others on one end of the scale, hatred and concern for self alone at the other.
·        Cassio, true and loyal soldier, balances the false and traitorous soldier Iago.

Sophisticated, civilised Venetian senator
Unable to comprehend that his delicate daughter could love and marry a Moor, speaking excitedly of black magic and spells to account for what his mind can’t understand
Gentleman-soldier, polished in manners and gracious in bearing, wildly drunk and revealing a deeply rooted pride in his ramblings about senior officers being saved before their juniors.
Sensible and conventional waiting woman, making small talk about love and suddenly remarking that though she believed adultery to be wrong, still if the price were high enough she would sell—and so, she believes, would most women.
Conceals beneath his exterior of the plain soldier and blunt, practical man of the world, a diabolism so intense as to defy rational explanation—it must be taken like lust or pride as simply a given part of human nature, an anti-life spirit which seeks the destruction of everything outside of self.
In the beginning, appears as the very personification of self-control, of the man with so secure a sense of his own worth that nothing can ruffle the consequent calmness of mind and manner. But the man who has roamed the wild and savage world unmoved by its terrors, who has not changed countenance when the cannon killed his brother standing beside him, this man is still capable of believing his wife a whore on the slightest of evidence and committing murders to revenge himself.
Here the heart and the hand go together—she is what she seems to be. Ironically, she alone is accused of pretending to be what she is not. Her very openness and honesty make her suspect in a world where few men are what they appear, and her chastity is inevitably brought into question in a world where every other major character is in some degree touched with sexual corruption.

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