Scrutiny Of Humanity’s Tragic Psychological Flaws In The Tragedy Othello

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The tragedy Othello (c.1604) explicitly achieves its enduring value in Shakespeare’s skilful examination of the complex human baseness, where he creates a strong didactic commentary on the need for introspection spurring an individual’s sacrificial pursuit of power and tragic demise. The flawed human tendency for envy is largely presented in the inferiority complexes that arise from vengeful intents and foregrounds the racial tensions against racial minorities within the 16th century Jacobean society. Shakespeare further delves into the malicious impacts of duplicity spurred by vengeance in the pursuit of excessive passion in Othello to reveal the consequence of the failure to distinguish adopted facades of deceit. Othello’s dramatic treatment of human baseness contributes to its enduring value and rich textual integrity as Shakespeare delineates the moral regression of an individual to posit the audience to re-evaluate their own flawed qualities.

Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello presents the need to reflect on the depravity within the human condition and cautions audiences against adopting facades of duplicity as it can undermine one’s self-awareness. The composer delves into the marginalisation of racial minorities and humanity’s unceasing capacity to ostracise individuals within the Elizabethan society to underpin the duplicitous attitudes of the ensign. The composer utilises the dramatic convention of the soliloquy to reveal the intensity of Iago’s emotions of egotistical disgust and indignation seen in the explicit statement “I hate the Moor” juxtaposed with “But I, for a mere suspicion…for surety.” The sharp contrast in the modality of language illuminates Iago’s blatant manipulation of the truth that characterises his deceptive nature to portray an individual’s propensity to deceive for one’s own agenda, reminding the audience of the crucial need for honesty while dissuading them from immoral pursuit of material gain. A dramatic examination of Iago’s conniving facades is exemplified in the use of asides “O, you are well tuned now! But I’ll set down pegs…,” as the musical metaphor paints a tangible image of the vulnerability of Othello’s crumbling marriage. Shakespeare connotes to his cynical fine “tuning” of the couple’s heartstrings where Iago’s intention to devastate the relationship confronts the audience on the fragility of relationships once confronted by an avaricious exploiter whose conscience is consumed by immoral feats. Iago further echoes Othello’s words presented in “Honest my lord/ Honest! Ay, honest’../Think my lord,” through which Shakespeare insightfully utilises the repetition of elliptical and cryptic language with Iago’s masterful control of rhetoric to lure Othello away from a binding marriage into his own spiralling descent. The composer’s use of stichomythia to pace the dialogue to further ignite Othello’s rage as he frantically succumbs to Iago’s pretence of denial, highlights the enigmatic extent to which the tragedy’s puppeteer induces the deterioration of an individual. Through the dichotomy of honesty and manipulation, Shakespeare criticises the extent of humanity’s propensity to deceive, giving rise to the individual’s degeneration.

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Othello explores the dichotomy between love and jealousy to caution the audience against the fragility of relationships once confronted with the destructive force of irrational insecurities intriguing the audience of their own jealousies. Seen in AC Bradley’s commentary, the ubiquitous appeal of duplicity sustained in “the naïve and vulnerable often suffer …jealousy remains as potent an emotional force today was it was in Shakespeare’s time,” amplifies the prevailing human baseness exacerbated by jealousy in both Elizabethan and contemporary contexts. Shakespeare employs the heavily significant symbolic dramatic prop of the handkerchief to form as the basis of Iago’s enigmatic scheme as he plants the question “Have you not sometimes seen the handkerchief…wife’s hand?” overwhelming Othello with jealousy to such extent that he accepts this suggestion as the strongest evidence for his suspicions. Shakespeare subsequently employs Othello’s soliloquy in the climax, where the hyperbolic exclamation “Farewell the tranquil mind! Farewell content..!” indicates the extent to which Othello’s self-assessment was so lacking that he tied his self-worth to pride and sexual jealousies. The exemplified anaphora “farewell” alludes to the diminution of his rational mind and the preconceived notion of Desdemona’s infidelity to which his martyrdom of suicide warns the audience against Othello’s anagnorisis in consumption of honour and envy. As Shakespeare delineates the dangers of suspicion inherent to human nature seen in ascending tricolon “Let her rot and perish and be damned…” the audience is further terrified towards Othello’s contrasting yet violent mindset. This violent imagery of decay emphasises Othello’s unrestrained and demoniac mindset through which the unceasing yet corruptive ability of jealousy to undermine his reasoning is revealed. The crux of this climatic scene is in the diminution of relationships where the perennial flaw of an individual’s lack of introspection and rationality manifests under the influence of a manipulative coercer.

Remarkably, Ultimately Shakespeare’s revenge tragedy Othello has enduring engagement even as social paradigms shift in the way the detrimental nature of inherent flaws pertinent to the human condition are presented. This is evidenced through the pivotal and manipulative role of the ensign whose treacherous nature ignites the trajectory of Othello. The play’s scrutiny of humanity’s tragic psychological flaws hence evokes a wider introspection of the manifesting hamartia of revenge and envy within contemporary society.


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