Dualities in Othello
!.?. !? Shakespeare’s Othello continues to engage audiences through its dramatic treatment of grand and difficult ideas. In the light of your vital study, does this declaration resonate with you? Make specific referral to the text. Shakespeare checks out numerous grand and difficult ideas throughout the play Othello. One such concept is the idea of dualities and the method which they appear in individuals. In the play, there is no expedition of the ambiguities of life, everything is divided into black and white. Throughout the play, for every single principle that Shakespeare highlights, the direct reverse is also made known.
These dualities consist of black and white, excellent and wicked, and appearance versus reality. Shakespeare presents these through the intricacy of the characters and the language and plot antitheses. Black and white is a binary opposition that Shakespeare establishes throughout the play. The most apparent proof of this remains in the characters. Othello is identified as a black male and it is this element of his personality that stimulates the sense that Othello is an outsider. Desdemona is a privileged, white woman and it is this colouring that symbolises her innocence and angelic nature.
There are various racial slurs throughout the play that suggest that being of coloured descent is not a wanted attribute. With the consistent repetition of slurs, negative undertones are established and suggest that the audience concur with the character’s racial attitudes. Iago provides the line, “an old black ram? Is tupping your white ewe.” Associating the black symbolism with animalistic images, suggests that a black man is savage and lustful, and develops the sense that Othello is a bad, evil individual.
Comparable images is used throughout to align black with wicked and white with great. In a moment of heightened tension in Act 3, Othello sobs, “All my fond love therefore do I blow to heaven.? ‘T is gone.? Emerge, black revenge, from thy hollow cell!” The word revenge has extremely negative connotations and once again black is lined up with that image to establish the concept that being reasonable is much more desirable than being black. When Brabantio has actually found out that his daughter has run off and married the general Othello, he attempts to encourage himself that Othello should have used magic, “black magic”.
This must be so since “a house maid so tender, fair …” would not “Run … to the sooty bosom.” The apparent juxtaposition of fair and sooty and the context in which the words are spoken elicit the feeling that there is a large social distinction between black and white. Generally characters apart from Othello use this racist discourse nevertheless when Othello himself reveals disgust at the idea of blackness, the audience more intensely abhors the idea. Othello’s name, “that was as fresh?
As Dian’s visage,” is now, because of Desdemona’s expected adultery, “begrimed and black? As mine own face.” In articulating this he aligns his good reputation with the goddess of the pale moon and now that he has actually been cuckolded it is black or stained. The importance of this moment is that Othello appears to have accepted all of the racist ideologies of the various characters who have actually constantly been describing him in such racist methods. One character who does not genuinely express a racist dogma is the Duke of Venice.
However, he attempts to pacify Brabantio, stating “Your son-in-law is far more fair than black.” This is planned to be a compliment however Shakespeare manipulates the language to show that blackness needs to have negative undertones for the statement to be a compliment. It also is another example of the juxtaposition that Shakespeare utilizes to excite the department in between black and white. Another fascinating duality is presented in Othello’s title. Many characters throughout the play refer to him as the Moor of Venice.
The title is symbolic of a dualistic identity. At the beginning they are inextricably bound and it is difficult to separate. However over the course of the play each aspect is revealed and the audience can come to understand the double parts of Othello’s character represented through his title. Othello’s identity as the Moor represents a worthy birth in an uncivilised, unknown wilderness. However the Venice half represents his effective track record in white Italian society. The “Moor” is a worker of Venice, not a native boy.
He is the barbarian to many in the ‘civil’ state. Othello is a literal example of a dualistic character, and through his history we can see that ‘he is made up by various and inconsistent cultural developments; African and European, servant and General, non-Christian and Christian, wanderer and defender of Venice.’ 1 The result this dualistic nature can have on an individual’s sense of identity is another conversation entirely. The paradox develops a ‘principal of wild disorder lodged in the heart of civilisation. 2 Through Shakespeare’s use of this paradoxical title, the audience concerns understand that not all the characters are what they appear. Another dualism provided in Shakespeare’s Othello is good versus wicked. This opposition is represented through a conclusion of images along with the juxtaposition of Iago and Desdemona. Shakespeare’s choice of setting, a part of the conclusion of images, highlights this particular duality of good versus evil. Venice is the respectable, principled city, in which whatever is great which is the opposite to Cyprus, the war-torn city, the embodiment of the destructive power of evils.
The play represents the everlasting battle in between excellent and wicked and, in this case, the audience witnesses the supreme defeat of good by the rage of evil. Desdemona is agent of innocence and purity, an angelic figure in the middle of lies and deceptiveness, “the more angel she,” and Othello is “the blacker devil.” This clear distinction between excellent and evil, angel and devil is repeated often times throughout the course of the play. Nevertheless, while Othello can not constantly be classified as the “devil”, Iago never ever has anything but the blackest of intentions.
And through these 2 plain opposites, Desdemona and Iago, the audience pertains to understand the nature of the duality. Iago’s wicked nature is explicitly specified late in the play, “My medication works! Hence credulous fools are captured, And many deserving and chaste dames even therefore, All clean, fulfill reproach.” His immorality is portrayed in his utter absence of regard for the sensations of other human beings, even the “righteous … dames”. On the other hand, Desdemona is typically referred to as, “magnificent, the grace of heaven.” This image is repeated throughout to stress the contrast in between good and evil.
An alternative dichotomy that is present throughout the play is appearance against truth, understanding versus true nature. 3 Shakespeare has actually produced a play which handles lots of grand and challenging concepts, particularly the idea of dualities in society and humanity. The dualities expressed are black and white, good and wicked, look and reality. These are treated in a significant manner through Shakespeare’s very skilful adjustment of language, his intricacy in characters, the plot and the setting. It is these components that continue to engage audiences today.