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Othello: The validity of humanities purely circumstantial and deterministic conscious existence

Uploaded by r2x criticom on Apr 07, 2001

An analysis of Shakespeare’s unrecognized dogma through the play Othello


People are merely products of their circumstances. Hopelessly bound to the conditions surrounding their existence, their only true personal characteristic is in their ability to resist influence. William Shakespeare’s Othello demonstrates that even this ability can give way and the noblest characters can end up falling into a downward spiral of deceit and suspicion. Iago, and his unwitting observation of other’s situations and perspectives, is Shakespeare’s instrument to implement this process effectively. Iago exposed Cassio’s self discipline and honour when he got him drunk; he knew he would readily accept his dismissal from Othello’s chain of command after such an incident. He used Roderigo’s greed and naivety to get him to kill Cassio, even though he didn’t want to. Finally, he whittled away at Othello’s trusting exterior until all that remain was a person incapable of accepting the testimonies of anyone but himself. The actions of characters in this play calls into question how much of our actions are really our own, and how much simply reflect the manifest destinies of influential people around us.

Cassio was a man concerned very much so with other’s perceptions of him. His fear of losing honour, and of doing the honourable thing made him particularly defenseless to Iago’s scheming. After Iago got him thoroughly drunk and he beat a man, his internal conflict took it’s toll: “I have lost the immortal / part of myself, and what remains is bestial. / My reputation, Iago, my reputation.” (II,iii,l262) , “One unperfectness shows / me another, to make me frankly despise myself” (II,iii,l296) Cassio’s shame led him to be unduly swayed by Iago’s subtle comments. In one such instance, Iago gave Cassio an ultimatum of sorts: “As I am an honest man, I had thought you had / received some bodily wound. There is more sense / in that than in reputation” (II,iii,l265) Here Iago took advantage of Cassio’s self doubt. Cassio’s view was that reputation was the life blood of ones being, yet he also agreed that Iago was an honest man. Since his self image was so depleted he had little choice but to accept Iago’s view on reputation, and imminently, everything else he said. Shakespeare maintained the idea that Cassio was thoroughly unaware of his external manipulation from Iago through these hilariously ironic parting words Cassio spoke: “I think freely; and betimes in the...

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Uploaded by:   r2x criticom

Date:   04/07/2001

Category:   Othello

Length:   5 pages (1,072 words)

Views:   1616

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