othello Essay

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OTHELLO ESSAY Can a single reading explain the meaning of the play? The play Othello by William Shakespeare has been and continues to be interpreted and contextualised ever since it was first performed in 1604 for King James I. Hence multiple readings must be considered in order to explain the full meaning of Othello. One perspective could be that Shakespeare made Othello in such a way as to please his intended audience, the people of the Elizabethan era. Hence Othello could be read as a traditional Aristotelian tragedy in which Othello’s tragic downfall is held accountable to his ‘fatal flaw,’ the flaw in his otherwise noble and heroic personality. In this reading of the play, the story revolves around Othello as the tragic hero and his flaw which leads him to commit atrocities and makes him disagreeable in the eyes of the audience. In Othello this is mainly portrayed through the slow yet succinct change in language and manner in Othello as well as his open physical cruelty towards Desdemona. He changes from a man who makes captivating speeches to a “quivering heap of passion.” His increased use of animal imagery also alludes to the heavy influence of Iago and as an indicator of the great change that has occurred in Othello. In this reading however, Iago’s major role in “pour[ing] pestilence into his ear” and hence Othello’s downfall is not acknowledged-everything is held accountable to his ‘flaw’ and fate. This is not relevant to a contemporary context as all themes and characters in the play are restricted to convey these conventions of a traditional Aristotelian tragedy. Throughout Othello, an ordered structure is placed on this play through this reading to convey a sense of order as was required in an Elizabethan context owing to the significance of order, hierarchy and class. This can be seen at the end when there is a need for Othello to be

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