In Act II, Scene I of "Othello" by William Shakespeare, there is a big storm that wipes out the Turkish fleet. But this storm also serves a non-literal purpose. I believe this purpose is to symbolize/foreshadow the turmoil that is to come for the main characters in the play. My problem is the matter of textual evidence. My English II teacher requires that I provide specific and direct textual evidence for each answer, but I'm not sure what sort of textual evidence I would use to prove that the storm is a symbolic element for the main characters. Any ideas of what evidence I should pull? Thank you in advance!
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The question of whether to read an event in a narrative as symbolic or literal is not one with a straightforward solution. Because Shakespeare died four centuries ago and left no written guide to his works, we cannot know what he intended. Even worse, in dramatic works we do not have a narrator to guide us through the story, only the voices of individual characters. Adding more complexity is the fact that many narrative elements can function on both real and symbolic levels. What textual evidence means in this context is close analysis of individual quotations to prove your point.
In the case of the storm, the strongest argument for its being symbolic would be that there is really no need in the plot for the Turkish fleet to be destroyed by the storm. For the plot to focus on the conflict between Iago and Othello, the Turkish fleet could be delayed, or just not mentioned except as a distant threat. The lack of plot necessity for the storm suggests that it serves a symbolic purpose.
There are a few quotations you can use to support this claim. For example:
DES. I thank you, valiant Cassio.What tidings can you tell me of my lord? ...
CAS. The great contention of the sea and skiesParted our fellowship.
But this same Cassio, though he speak of comfortTouching the Turkish loss, yet he looks sadly,And prays the Moor be safe; for they were partedWith foul and violent tempest.
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