750-1000 words. You may submit either a hard copy or an electronic copy.
"How has your understanding of human nature been shaped by your personal reading of two scenes from the play?”
Focus on at least two scenes from the play (you may choose from the list above) and be sure to support your ideas with relevant language and dramatic techniques.
Shakespeare’s 'Othello' successfully explores the human nature aspect of love and of deception, through a contrast of a person’s outward and inward self. There is a difference between the Othello portrayed by Shakespeare (i.e. Shakespeare’s Othello) and the Othello portrayed by himself (i.e. Othello’s Othello). In a critical essay, Brain
McFarlane explores these differences. A.C. Bradley viewed Othello as “not easily jealous and indeed one to which jealousy seems foreign”, whilst F.R. Leavis’ contrasting view is one that “seems anxious to strip Othello of every vestige of nobility, so as to see him as a black monster, ‘as ignorant as dirt.” (from McFarlane’s essay). Upon examination of these two contrasting aspects, it is valid to ask who the true Othello is. Is he, as Shakespeare portrays, responsible for his own downfall due to an insecure and commanding human nature? Or, as Othello portrays, is Iago principally responsible, by his villainous and selfish nature? Upon close examination of Act 1, Scene 3, and Act 3, Scene 3, it is clearer that Othello’s Othello may well portray a more accurate perspective.
Act 1, Scene 3 is the first scene whereby Othello and Desdemona’s love for each other is expressed. When taking into account Othello’s Othello, the later parts of the play display the human nature associated with burning love for another person. Act 1, Scene 3 begins to show the strong presence of love between the two. When approaching the
Duke and council regarding his affairs with Desdemona, Othello delivers a strong and lengthy speech as to why the two are in love. In his speech, Othello says “This to hear would Desdemona seriously incline…yet she wished that heaved had made her such a man…This only is the witchcraft I have used.” These statements portray very valid reasons for Othello’s love for Desdemona. The straight forward description of events clearly shows the audience and the Duke how the two fell in love. The last line of the speech is a metaphorical line that answers the questions and doubts held by the others in the scene. This explanation shows Othello professing the idea that he gained
Desdemona with love, and love only. This is a key aspect to Othello’s Othello, and shows his human nature as that of a loving romantic. To show this further, the Duke, who was angry at Othello at first, warmly says “I think this talk would win my daughter too.” This is a contrasting view to F.R Leavis’ account of a completely non-noble character. Further on in the scene, Desdemona says “My heart’s subdued even to the very quality of my lord.”
By using ‘my lord’ and ‘subdued’, she expresses that she is strongly bound to Othello, and enforces that she too is in deep love. Act 1, Scene 3 displays very vivid images of
Othello and Desdemona’s love, initiating the idea that the two are so madly in love that nothing may break them apart.
1 of 3
Act 3, Scene 3 is a complex scene whereby Iago’s villainy is heavily shown to be used to bring down Othello. The scene continues to show the strong love between Desdemona and Othello, and hints at the dangers of their love being tarnished. Othello says, presumably in a passionate and loud tone, “Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my my should but I do love thee; and when I love thee not, chaos is come again.” Shakespeare uses this foreshadowing to show the fact that if their passionate love is to be broken, the world will amount to chaos. As the audience have a strong idea of this happening,
Shakespeare also employs dramatic irony. The quote displays an insight into