What are examples of dramatic irony in Othello?

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

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A great deal of the conflict in Othello is driven by what the audience knows but the characters, in particular Othello, do not know. The audience knows that Desdemona is perfectly loyal to Othello and that she works tirelessly in defending and trying to further his interests. Her break from her father in her request to marry him was a demonstration of her loyalty and nothing has changed. But Othello begins to suspect her thanks to Iago's maneuverings.

And Iago's false loyalty to Othello is the most important example of dramatic irony in the play. He says to the audience and to Roderigo that he serves Othello to "do his turn upon him" and to get what he wants and deserves. He fools Othello and Roderigo and Cassio and Desdemona that he is loyal to them and acting out of love. The only person who eventually sees through him is his wife Emilia.

The audience watches helplessly as Othello is destroyed by the work of Iago, as only they share in the knowledge of what Iago is really doing.


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