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Every time I see or read Othello, when the Turkish fleet is destroyed by the storm, I...

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 18, 2007 at 10:43 AM via web

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Every time I see or read Othello, when the Turkish fleet is destroyed by the storm, I think, "Man, that's too easy. Shakespeare was cheating there." And every time, I forget about it as soon as Iago starts working his dark magic. So I was wondering too things. First, would there have been a way to make this plot work without trashing the Turks this way?


And second, do other elements of the plot seem like they work too easily?

Thanks.

Greg

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sagetrieb | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted October 18, 2007 at 2:41 PM (Answer #2)

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I don't like to ask such questions of Shakespeare's plays because these events are more conventions than they are anything else--they seem to have no realistic function, they merely make other events possible, moving the plot forward.  Consider Antonio's saved ship at the end of Merchant--that's another example of Shakespeare foregoing a complex study of humanity in order to accomplish something else more significant. 

I guess I beg you question, Greg, don't I. 

 

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 18, 2007 at 3:43 PM (Answer #3)

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I don't like to ask such questions of Shakespeare's plays because these events are more conventions than they are anything else--they seem to have no realistic function, they merely make other events possible, moving the plot forward.  Consider Antonio's saved ship at the end of Merchant--that's another example of Shakespeare foregoing a complex study of humanity in order to accomplish something else more significant. 

I guess I beg you question, Greg, don't I. 

 

Fair enough. It sounds, then, like my question was badly phrased.

In plays like A Midsummer Night's Dream, the plot is SO artificial that I accept it as a contrivance. I settle in for arbitrary changes and that's that. However, Othello feels like it is trying to create a realistic feel at times, and so this sleight of hand bothers me. Perhaps that's a better way to phrase it: this plot slip bothers me. Does it bother others, and can we see patterns in how these slips work?

Greg

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bookworm-dg | Student, Grade 10 | Honors

Posted May 27, 2008 at 10:04 AM (Answer #4)

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In some ways, having Othello go destroy the Turkish fleet was very important because it demonstrates Othello's power.

The way the plot works is based a lot on Iago's wit and luck. If either of these was removed, the plot wouldn't work out. Yes, it does seem a bit too coincidential that the story works out so well for Iago. But the other characters aren't that smart either. Do they ever really question if Iago is trustworthy? Its a matter of Iago's means of manipulation that get him so far in the story.

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kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted May 27, 2008 at 11:35 AM (Answer #5)

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The destruction of the Turkish fleet simply moves the action along and serves no other purpose.  Shakespeare was a master at blending his events seamlessly, in my opinion.  I don't think any of the events are "too easy."  I do find everyone's trust of Iago quite naive, though.  I cannot fathom NO ONE questioning Iago, although since he worked so much "under the radar," I guess he could've gone undetected.

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john-smith-co-au | eNoter

Posted July 22, 2008 at 10:40 PM (Answer #6)

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I agree with kwoo1213. The purpose of the conflict was to remove the newly married Othello and desdemona from the security of Venice to the foreign environment of Cyprus. However, beyond this the military conflict would not have advanced the central theme of jelousy. On the contrary, in fact it might have nullified the succeptibility of Othello to the intrigue of iago if he was engaged in fighting the Turks. Shakespeare is well-known for the simplicity and focus of his plays. Almost nothing in Othello is there as decoration but rather with the main purpose or theme in mind.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 16, 2011 at 6:03 AM (Answer #7)

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I think as well it gives us a chance to see Othello at work in war, although arguably he doesn't have to do much to secure a victory. I agree with #5 though, if I were to suspend my suspension of disbelief, I would want to know why nobody suspected Iago. His hatred and evil nature surely could not have gone unnoticed for so long, and I don't believe that it just suddenly sprang up out of nowhere.

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