Othello: Good vs Evil
Great Or Evil: A Vital Analysis of Othello’s Main Characters William Shakespeare’s Othello is a timeless depiction of a battle between excellent and evil. In the play,, the characters are faced with the option to either conquer or catch the overwhelming force of evil. Shakespeare places his characters on a sort of spectrum in which a character’s quantity of god or evil can be represented by a shade of color: black representing pure evil, white representing absolute goodness, and a shade of grey exemplifying the nature of all characters that fall in between the 2 extremes of the spectrum.
In the play Othello, the main characters are a prefect example of this method of characterization. Through plot advancement, interactions with other characters, and other various techniques of characterization, the 2 primary characters Othello and Iago, expose their real colors throughout the advancement of the play. Othello, the primary character in the play, when evaluated can be considered a grey character; he has the tendency to succumb to the darkness of evil, or get rid of the force of evil and arise as a champ of the excellent.
Prior to the start of the novel, Othello had secretly wed Desdemona, child of Brabantio who is a Venetian senator. When the subject of Desdemona’s marital relationship to Othello is raised to Brabantio, he decides to implicate Othello of wooing her by witchcraft in front of the senate and the duke in order to break up the marital relationship and have his child returned. This strategy backfires, nevertheless, as Othello discusses to the senate and the duke that he charmed Desdemona with his stories of how he acquired his liberty, the stunning battles he won, and the strange and intriguing things he had seen on his journeys all over the world.
He states to the senate: These things to hear/ Would Desdemona seriously incline./ However still your house affairs would draw her hence,/ Which ever as she might with rush dispatch,/ She ‘d return, and with a greedy ear/ Feast on up my discourse/ … She loved me for the risks I had passed,/ And I loved her that she did pity them (Shakespeare 1. 3. 40). Othello has the ability to win over the senate and the duke with his glorious stories. The duke even mentions, “I think this would win my child too” (1. 3. 40).
At this moment in the play, it is apparent that Othello is almost a simply white character; his only defect being he had, “… ta’en away this old male’s daughter,/ It is most real. True I have actually married her./ The very head and front of my angering/ Hath this degree, say goodbye to” (1. 3. 35). This burst of goodness is short lived in the character of Othello, however. With the development of the play, Othello starts to become darker and darker of a character, as he ends up being enshrouded with lies that corrupt him and send him spiraling downward up until he is surrounded by a dark evil.
Norman Sanders, a literary critic of Shakespeare’s Othello goes over how making use of language specifies the main characters of the play. In his criticism Othello, Sanders writes, “Othello’s natural speech is poetic, majestic, romantic, brave, and so on … during the course of the action, Iago handles to ‘infect’ Othello with some sordid ideas and speech, in effect bringing the worthy Moor partway down to his own level” (Nardo 52). In Othello’s life, Iago represents the evil that he is burdened with conquering. Sadly for Othello, he is not able to prevent himself from being restrained by Iago and his evil methods.
Iago, a soldier in Othello’s army who wanted to wed Desdemona, chooses to manipulate Othello into believing his wife was cheating on him with Michael Cassio, Othello’s lieutenant. This shroud of lies blinds Othello to the reality and sends him into fits of unmanageable rage, and even epileptic fits. Iago’s developed lie of Desdemona’s adultery brings Othello to a point in which he becomes a completely dark character consumed with evil; he connects with revenge in his eyes towards his better half, and smothers her.
It is this very moment, the murder of Desdemona, that crosses Othello over from the light to the dark. Wyndham Lewis mentions in his criticism of Othello that, “For Othello there is nothing equivocal, I believe; and the black fugre of this child-man is one of the poles of Shakespeare’s feeling” (39 ). Here, Lewis is discussing how Othello believes just one side of the story that he hears. He has actually become a black figure: and wicked male on the severe end of one side of shakespeare’s spectrum.
Othello ultimately loses the battle to wicked because of his loss of sight brought on by deceit and jealousy. In the end, Othello ends his sufferings by taking his own life; turning himself over as a victim of the darkness that clouded his life. The significant shift from great to wicked in Othello is what defines him as being a grey character. From really early in the play, it is apparent that the character Iago represents pure evil in Othello. The very first few lines spoken by Iago are those that express an absolute hate and disgust of a specific person, who we later find out is Othello. It is this hatred for Othello that drives the whole action of the play, as it is based upon Iago’s wicked scheming and sinister control of Othello. Iago, a master of manipulation, convinces Othello that Desdemona is having an affair. The shroud of lies Iago is able to create around Othello is too thick for him to translucent and Othello is eventually persuaded of the adultery of his better half which leads to him taking her life, and soon later, his own. Iago clearly has a severe hatred for Othello, however the motivation for this hatred is unclear.
In the beginning of the novel, he specifies that he dislikes Othello for picking Michael Cassius over him for the rank of lieutenant. Later On in Act One, he states that he believes Othello for sleeping with his better half, Emilia: “… I hate the moor./ It is believed abroad that ‘twixt my sheets/ He’s done my office” (Shakespeare 1. 3. 35). Later on again, this time in Scene 2, Iago’s intentions change once again. Iago declares that he had established a lust for Desdemona and wishes to sleep with her in order to get even with Othello for sleeping with Emilia.
Whatever the intention, Iago takes to his diabolical practices with much pleasure, no matter who he is corrupting. Plainly, Iago is a devious character who represents the blackest of blacks and the darkest of darks on the color spectrum. He is the purest form of evil that impacts more than simply Othello in this play. At the end of Act 2, Iago gets Cassio drunk and makes him insinuate a battle with Roderigo. In an attempt to prevent the battle Guv Montano gets stabbed by Cassio. Towards completion of the play, Roderigo is injured in a fight with Cassio that was begun by Iago, and is later on eliminated in the same battle.
Fleeing from the battle, Iago spontaneously injuries Cassio and quickly flees the scene. The climax of the play takes place when Othello eliminates Desdemona out of jealousy and rage; a jealousy and rage that was initiated by the deception and lies of Iago. After Othello eliminates his spouse, Emilia enters the scene and reveals to Othello that Desdemona had actually been faithful to him and exposes the truth to Othello. Iago, having been found as a phony and a deceiver kills his spouse and as soon as again flees. Lastly, Othello wind up killing himself. All of this death and destruction in the play was caused by one male, Iago.
Clearly, he represents outright darkness in Othello and is the embodiment of evil. Consisted of within Shakespeare’s play Othello are characters who represent pure goodness along with absolute evil, and everything in between. Characters like Othello start as naturally good characters, but when challenged with the task of dealing with and conquering wicked they may stop working and fall to the dark side, simply as Othello did. Outright evil in this play appears through the character Iago. Iago uses his maniacal abilities to control Othello and shroud him in a cloud of lies.
This eventually results in the death and downfall of lots of characters, consisting of Othello. The advancement of the play aid to identify Othello and Iago as black, white, or grey characters in the play Othello. Bibliography Bloom, Harold. William Shakespeare’s Othello. Broomall: Chelsea Home Publishers, 1999. Helium, Inc. “Literary Analysis: Comparison of the characters Othello and Desdemona.” Helium. 2002-2012. February 27 2012. http://helium. com/items/1212109-what-was-othello-and-desdemonas-relationship Nardo, Dan. Readings on Othello. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 2000. Othello– Fight of Great vs. Evil.” Field of Themes. February 27 2012. http://field-of-themes. com/shakespeare/Eothello2. htm “Othello Characters.” Outright Shakespeare. 2000-2005. February 27 2012. http://absoluteshakespeare. com/guides/othello/ characters/characters. htm Shakespeare, William. Othello. New York City: Spark Publishing, 2003. Shmoop University. “Iago.” Shmoop. February 28 2012. http://shmoop. com/othello. iago. html Weller, Phillip. “Iago’s Motivations.” Shakespeare Navigators. 2012. February 27 2012. http://shakespeare-navigators. com/othello/iagomotv. html