Othello - Theme - Lack of Self-Awareness Essay

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Pages: 5

Theme – Lack of Self-Awareness

Definition of the theme and its development through the play:

* In Othello, characters not only deceive others, but deceive themselves. They lack self-awareness in that they fail to see or acknowledge their own flaws and weaknesses, and they never see themselves as completely as others perceive them. The truth is likely to destroy either their contentment or their perceptions of themselves

* This theme is mainly developed through the major characters of the play. They all employ this unconscious, protective self-delusion strategy that makes life possible. Through their susceptibility to Iago’s plotting, and the unfolding of their characters, their lack of self-awareness is demonstrated
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This juxtaposition of setting parallels the change and development in the characters

* Use of parallel scenes: At the beginning of Act IV Scene 1, Othello is watching and cursing as he eavesdrops the conversations between Cassio and Iago. This echoes Act II Scene 1 where it is Iago who is watching and curing the reunion of Othello and Desdemona. This shows the significance of Othello’s demise, caused by his failure to acknowledge his jealousy

* Contrasts in characters: Emilia, the practical realist, highlights the romantic idealism of Desdemona, especially when they discuss love

* Dramatic irony increases the sense of Othello’s lack of self-awareness:
“Think’st thou I’d make a life of jealousy,
To follow still the changes of the moon
With fresh suspicious?”

IMPORTANCE OF THE THEME IN RELATION TO THE PLAY: * Shakespeare explores the idea that people not only decieve others, they also deceive themselves, because the truth may destroy them

* Because of a lack of self-awareness or self-delusions, characters in the play become reluctant to face the facts and continually make excuses or justifications for their