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What are some techniques (with examples) used in Othello?
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William Shakespeare's "Othello" is a wonderful study of the character of Othello. Though of noble bearing, Othello is a black hero. As an outsider marked by his race, he is a vulnerable man in Renaissance Europe, a continent already engaged in the African slave trade. Othello is tainted by his origins in yet another way, his own mother a practitioner of pagan witchcraft. Othello the outsider uses the “witchcraft” of language to seduce Desdemona. Language, as witchcraft, has many uses. While Othello employs words as a means of seduction, Iago engages them as a potent poison.
The downfall of Othello can first be seen when Iago’s poison is first poured in Act III, scene iii, the key transitional point in a play that moves from the stable order of Venice to the less certain ground of Cyprus. The animal imagery in Iago’s speeches in this scene suggest that baser instincts have won out; this further anticipates the violence and animalism of the play’s conclusion. In Act III, scene iv, Iago tells Othello that his wife has been sleeping with Cassio. At this point, Othello degenerates before our eyes, reduced to a blabbering, sub-human state. "Othello" depicts a man who descends to brutality from the advice of a trusted friend.
Though African—and, as such, suspect as an outsider—Othello is a trusted defender of Christian culture. Othello’s noble deeds in battle recall the exploits of the classical hero. Othello embodies the aristocratic ideals of Elizabethan England: honesty, friendship, fidelity, chivalric love. But in light of contemporary values, Othello might seem naïve.
Posted by ericpollock on May 21, 2012 at 12:20 PM (Answer #1)
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