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What Is Wrong with Othello? Does Othello Work as a Play?

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 01:29 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 61.1 
  • Words: 1338
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Because Othello is a tragic hero, his problem involves both his character traits and the situation that he finds himself in. There are many problems with Othello’s character. He is overly loyal, even to the extent of being gullible. He may also, to some extent, have insecurities about being black. These insecurities show themselves in the way he never truly thinks he was good enough for Desdemona, and is subsequently easily manipulated by Iago. He also lacks the talent for eloquent speech that is essential for living in his society, and subsequently feels beneath those who have this talent. However, his situation also leads to his problems. He is stuck with Iago, who has a talent for easily manipulating Othello. Iago has the ability to take the virtuous aspects of Othello and turn them against him. Othello also lives in a sexist society, which may have helped Iago (a man) turn him against Desdemona (a woman) because he was more inclined to believe a man.

It takes Iago only one scene to make Othello believe that his wife is cheating on him. This loyalty, while often seen as a virtue, is turned into a flaw by Iago. At the beginning of Act 3, Scene 3, Othello professes his loyalty to Iago: “I know thou’rt full of love and honesty”. This sign of love and affection is used by Iago against Othello. At the beginning of Act 3, Scene 3, Othello also professes his love for Desdemona: “Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my soul but I do love thee; and when I love thee not, chaos is come again”. However, by the end of the scene, because of Othello’s naïve loyalty, he believes Iago absolutely, and asks for Cassio to be murdered: “Within three days let me hear thee say that Cassio’s not alive”. The only proof that Othello has at this stage is Iago’s word that he saw Cassio with Desdemona’s handkerchief, and it is this flaw of naïve loyalty that is part of what is wrong with Othello.

Part of what is wrong with Othello is that he is a black man living in white...


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