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In Act III.iii of Othello, how does Othello's language change across the scene...

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pglenn16 | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted November 12, 2011 at 12:08 AM via web

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In Act III.iii of Othello, how does Othello's language change across the scene mirroring Iago's language?

How his language changes and how does it change to be similar to Iago's?

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missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 12, 2011 at 12:50 AM (Answer #1)

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In lines 115-121, Othello asks questions of Iago, Iago repeats the question in an effort to clarify what Othello wants, and then Othello asks the same question again. This repetitive moment is the incident which shifts Othello's language to begin mirroring Iago's. This is important because as Iago repeats each question, he is doing so in order to cast doubt. Othello's second ask of each question is in an effort to reaffirm Othello's stance. Previous to this moment, Othello trusted his wife in spite of Iago's suggestions. After this moment, Othello degenerates into an envious, self-conscious schoolboy. These lines are direct examples of the mirroring of language.

If we could characterize Iago's language so far, it is direct when he speaks to the audience alone in a monologue. In those moments, he reveals his intentions. When he speaks with other characters, it is cunning and sneaky. He reveals little and he lets few people know what his real intentions are. He leads other characters to believe something that actually is not true.

Othello says to Iago:

And for I know thou'rt full of love and honesty
And weigh'st thy words before thou givest them breath,(135)
Therefore these stops of thine fright me the more;
For such things in a false disloyal knave
Are tricks of custom; but in a man that's just
They're close dilations, working from the heart,
That passion cannot rule.

In these lines, Othello suggests something without saying it outright. He is telling Iago that Iago is not being truthful with him. However, he is not accusing Othello. Othello is speaking generally about mankind, not Iago. There is a shift from line 136-137 in which Othello makes this move.

Later in the scene, Iago has played with Othello's mind enough that Othello is struggling with sleep, and with trusting his wife. Othello tells Iago what a terrible mess Iago made of Othello's mind. Throughout the rest of the scene, Othello uses direct language and it even grows rather vulgar like Iago will use when he is alone on stage reporting to the audience the next terrible turn he will make. These are Othello's last words:

Damn her, lewd minx! O, damn her!
Come, go with me apart; I will withdraw,
To furnish me with some swift means of death
For the fair devil.

These sound much like the planning words that Iago will share when alone in front of the audience.

 

 

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