Othello’s language


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Othello’s language

  1. 1.  Poetic declarations of Love for Desdemona (1.2.25, 1.3.91, 125 – 169, 295- 97, 2.1.173-189, 2.3.8-10)  2.3.239: Desdemona and Othello mimic each other, and they complete the structure of Iambic Pentameter to show their bond  O: “Nor I.” D: “Nor I.”….D: “Let me go with him.” O: “Let her have her voice.”  O: “O my fair warrior! D: My dear Othello! Extended lyrical descriptions which show his exoticness, his otherness (1.3.125-69; 2.1.173-89). Othello‟s speech patterns reflect a classical rhetorical origin, “Rude I am of speech.” Presages his defence by addressing and acknowledging his faults, illustrating his desire to be honest and transparent. Gentle, moderate pace emphasising his composure, nobility and dignity. (1.3.125-69; 2.1.173-89) Poetic use of hyperbole (2.1.174-79) Reference is to a journey across dangerous seas to attain the heights of the gods, O continues to put D on a pedestal. Lyrical repetition of phrases (1.3.150-160)
  2. 2.  Venomous pronouncements of hatred towards Desdemona (3.3.363, 435, 479-82; 4.2.71-92)  Language is littered with violence, animals and disease. Interruption of D‟s speech which emphasises O‟s revulsion of her (3.4.82-90) Short, abrupt sentences, with numerous exclamation marks (Act 3 & 4) Fast, violent pace created by rapid exchange of dialogue and partial lines (4.1 and 3.4.71-81) Frustrated and violent use of hyperbole, “I‟ll tear her all to pieces” Violent, tortured repetition (3.3.431, 455, 479: 3.4. 85-90; 4.1.35-41. 178-79) Fragmented sentences, unfinished babbling and cries, bordering on animalistic grunts (called „savage madness‟ by Iago in 4.1.53)  4.1.31-41 – Othello‟s personal and moral decline is doubly reinforced by his linguistic deterioration and also by his physical deterioration (epileptic fit)
  3. 3.  Othello is takes responsibility for his own actions. He doesn‟t act according to Iago‟s shallow rational, his rational and method is his own. He believes he is killing Desdemona, and saving men and her from her promiscuous ways. Othello regains his lyrical ability and the images he uses are dignified and elevated (5.2.1-15) “It is the cause, it is the cause” – O cannot articulate D‟s sin, adultery. Similar to D being unable to say the word „whore‟ in Act 4. Still loves D, but he is trying to be distant and professional - “monumental alabaster.” A materiel used to make statues and tombs. O uses heavenly images and compares D‟s life to a rose. Although he has not committed the deed, he is penitent. He also understands that he will be consigned to purgatory but he believes he is saving mankind and D. Not a true redemption because this is on O‟s terms. It precursors the real test, trial and attempt at redemption
  4. 4.  After the death of D, O‟s composure unravels. Repetition, “Not dead? Not yet quite dead?” Fragmented speech patterns, „Yes, „tis Emilia – by and by. – She‟s dead” His previous composure was fragile. O repeats E, “Not Cassio kill‟d!” and then his accusations, “She‟s like a liar gone to burning hell. „Twas I that kill‟d her…” His attempted heroism has deteriorated and he has reverted to making coarse accusations using negative imagery. Repetition and echoing is used to show the truth being hammered into Othello and thus condemning his actions. Realisation in the form of a question, “Where should Othello go?” Repetition of “pale…cold, cold… like thy chastity” – contrast with his pronouncement of “hot, hot and moist” (3.4.35) Devilish imagery, Self hatred: “whip me, ye devils.. From the possession of this heavenly sight! Blow me about in winds! Roast me in sulphur…” Reversion to imagery synonymous with hell and damnation. Inviting the chaos he has unleashed: repetition, devilish imagery, listing, etc Lines 339 – 57: requests to be remembered accurately and asks that the extremity of his circumstances be taken into account. As the Venetian General he was, in effect, the defender of Christianity – recognition of the barbarian within. Othello‟s Final Redemption Essential, Othello needs to be redeemed, otherwise Iago wins (5.2.282) Othello uses devilish imagery, “If thou best a devil, I cannot kill thee.” Shift in language, becomes more elevated and the tone is more measured. Othello has purpose and focus again, he has identified the enemy. (5.2.291) Othello explains his motives for killing his wife; which were not Iago‟s. “An honourable murderer, if you will; for naught did I in hate, but all in honour.” Othello‟s final speech (5.2.334) attempts to reconcile him with his previous nobility and reputation by employing lyrical elevated language reminding the state of his pervious actions. He offers a possible explanation for his fall (340) using two analogies which help the audience recall his exoticness and differences:  The first is the story of the India who unwittingly threw away a rich jewel, the sentence structures are inverted reminding us of his nobility  The second relates to the loss, wherein he weeps as fast as the trees of Arabia that drip a resin, myrrh, which is used as a medicine. Finally he employs a third allegory, based on his own experience, “where a malignant and turban‟d Turk beat a Venetian and traduced the state, I took by th‟throat the circumcised dog and smote him thus.” Reminding the audience that he is a defender of Christianity and as such, his following actions are justified as he equates himself to the „malignant and turban‟d Turk.”
  5. 5.  Realising the differences between he and Iago  Compare Iago‟s reaction to the thought of his wife having had an affair with Othello‟s reaction  “Of one that lov‟d not wisely, but too well; of one not easily jealous but, being wrought, perplex‟d in the extreme…”
  6. 6.  Echoing is obvious in the exchanges between Othello and Iago (3.3.102-11) – used as a form of manipulation 1.1.79-81, „Thieves‟ said 5 times to emphasise the place of women as property. 1.3.324-50, „Money‟ said 8 times to show Iago‟s motivation 2.3.241-47, „Reputation‟, highlights Cassio‟s humiliation 3.3.309-11; 3.4.82-93 and 4.1.35-41 The handkerchief which condemns D 3.4.1-9; 4.1.34-35: to lie or to lie? Pun, play on lie, to commit adultery. Highlights D‟s ignorance and vulnerability. 4.2.72-162, “Whore” is repeated 10 times 5.2.1-3, “ It is the cause” (3 times) Slows the action and diagolue down, justification of Othello‟s murder 5.2.95-96, “My wife‟ or „wife‟ (5 times)- adjusting to the reality of his actions 5.2.136 – 54, “My husband.” (9 times) – denial moving to acceptance 5.2, “villain” or “villainy” – appearances versus reality Frequent repetition of antithesis between „honest‟/ „lie‟ and „heaven‟/ „hell‟ to emphasise the conflict between reality and illusion. Poison Disease Animals