Dualities in Othello Essay

1206 WordsMar 15, 20145 Pages
Shakespeare’s Othello continues to engage audiences through its dramatic treatment of grand and challenging ideas. In the light of your critical study, does this statement resonate with you? Make specific reference to the text. Shakespeare explores numerous grand and challenging ideas throughout the play Othello. One such idea is the concept of dualities and the way in which they are manifested in people. In the play, there is no exploration of the ambiguities of life, everything is divided into black and white. Throughout the play, for every concept that Shakespeare highlights, the direct opposite is also made known. These dualities include black and white, good and evil, and appearance versus reality. Shakespeare presents these through the complexity of the characters and the language and plot antitheses. Black and white is a binary opposition that Shakespeare develops throughout the play. The most obvious evidence of this is in the characters. Othello is characterized as a black man and it is this aspect of his persona that evokes the sense that Othello is an outsider. Desdemona is a privileged, white lady and it is this colouring that symbolises her innocence and angelic nature. There are numerous racial slurs throughout the play that suggest that being of coloured descent is not a desired characteristic. With the constant repetition of slurs, negative connotations are developed and suggest that the audience agree with the character’s racial attitudes. Iago delivers the line, “an old black ram
Is tupping your white ewe.” Associating the black symbolism with animalistic imagery, suggests that a black man is savage and lustful, and creates the sense that Othello is a bad, evil person. Similar imagery is used throughout to align black with evil and white with good. In a moment of heightened tension in Act Three, Othello cries, “All my fond love thus do I
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