Othello's Exploration of the Human Psyche

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INTRODUCTION: to come.. Shakespeare’s character Othello is used as a symbol of the human psyche, representing the conflict between the binary oppositions of civility and barbarism. At the opening of the play, the forces of civilisation and order are represented by Othello. He acts as an agent of order, evident when he exclaims “For Christian shame, put by this barbarous brawl”; and “hold your hands” in reaction to a series of abusive comments made regarding him. The rationality evident in his civil approach is contradictory of what these barbaric arguments accuse him to be. Freudian superego-like qualities of order and calmness are evident in him, conflicting with the superego qualities of barbarism. Symbolism is also important in the fact that Othello is a black Moor, visually representing the struggle between barbarism and civility, foreshadowing his descent from a well respected and loving man into an irrational murderer. Iago’s character is used to highlight and expose the id-like energies of Othello and his true barbaric nature. Order is apparent within society until Iago starts to stir trouble by exposing the marriage plans to Brabantio- the beginning of the undoing of Othello’s plans of a happy marriage, and he continues this undoing through the manipulation of Othello’s mind to believe that Desdemona is unfaithful. The carefully calculated hints of infidelity, his echoing Othello’s “Honest, my lord?” “Think, my lord?” does not merely state, but essentially plants the seed of jealousy in Othello’s mind, this in turn developing and branching off into further deeds such as irrational actions. After Iago’s manipulation and Othello’s misinterpretation of the scene regarding the handkerchief, Othello asks “How shall I murder him, Iago?” this effectively contrasting and exposing Othello’s id-like rationality and reaction. This id-like behaviour continues
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