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How does Othello lose his honour and noble stature through his insecurity in...

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penccil | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 14, 2011 at 9:40 AM via web

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How does Othello lose his honour and noble stature through his insecurity in Shakespeare's Othello?

I know Othello loses his honour because he kills Desdemona and realises that he made a mistake but am writing an essay so need something more than that. I need something to build on and that I can write a lot about.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 14, 2011 at 6:43 PM (Answer #1)

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I would pay attention to the gradual disintegration of Othello's state of being in the world.  Over time, Iago's insinuations and calculations end up destabilizing Othello.  The proud and towering figure that is seen at the start of the play is little more than a gutted shell at the end of it.  Even at the end of the play, Othello is concerned about his reputation and how others will see him in the light of his actions.  This reflects how perception and reality were always blurred in Othello's mind, reflecting that his honorably and noble stature were always suspect and built on a shaky firmament:

Othello is concerned how this will be reported abroad. He is concerned about his reputation, but he is more concerned with the truth. He humbly points out that he has done 'some service' to the state of Venice, a mild understatement. As far as his crime, he wishes it to be told fully, without toning down his flaws or making him more of a monster than he feels he is. His simple statement is that he 'loved not wisely, but too well.

This idea of a weak firmament of character becomes the fundamental root of Othello's insecurity, precluding him from being able to act in the name of what is right.  Instead, this compels him to act in the name of what he perceives to be right, and this perception- driven action is what undermines all the good and nobility within his character.

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