Pomp and circumstance
Farewell the neighing steed, and the shrill trump,
The spirit-stirring drum, th' ear-piercing fife;
The royal banner, and all quality,
Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war!
And O you mortal engines, whose rude throats
Th' immortal Jove's dread clamors counterfeit,
Farewell! Othello's occupation's gone.
If there were one speech that revealed Othello's "tragic flaw,"
this would be it. The noble Moor, who has led a life of astounding
exploits and military glory, has ultimately staked his self-image
and peace of mind on his marriage to a Venetian woman of privilege.
When the villain Iago craftily persuades Othello that his wife has
been unfaithful—a highly improbable event—the general bids farewell
not just to marital bliss, but to his livelihood ("occupation"). No
longer, he cries, can he experience "all quality,/ Pride, pomp, and
circumstance of glorious war!"
Othello obviously isn't talking about his high school
graduation. "Pomp and circumstance" (and "quality" and "pride") are
the glories and ceremonies of warfare. In war's splendid rituals,
Othello has forged his identity. Although we often use "pomp and
circumstance" negatively, to denote affectation and overwrought
exhibitionism, the Renaissance would have been more generous: pomp
and circumstance were considered inherent, positive duties of the