Term Paper: Othello, a Tragedy by Shakespeare

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[. . .] Othello doesn't listen to her, because he believes this to be an admission of guilt. But Desdemona keeps on trying...this is what makes Iago's lies seem like truth. Though she doesn't see it, it is actually fueling the fire even further.

He is blinded by jealousy and anger that he fails to see what is actually happening. He still wants to believe that his wife is innocent, but the seeds of doubt are growing strong, and he can no longer tell which is truth and which is a lie, set in motion by the devious mind of Iago. He just keeps "fueling the fire" in Othello's mind about the affair and the handkerchief, and Othello just cannot keep a "level head." He sets out to seek revenge on his wife.

Because of this, Othello puts even more magic on the handkerchief in that he becomes enchanted and enthralled with its perceived importance. The thought that his wife could betray their love, by the act of losing the handkerchief, drives him to do the unthinkable -- plot lethal revenge on his wife. One more piece of "evidence" is needed to support this act, and he gets it when Iago and Cassio talk about Bianca and the handkerchief. Othello, however, think they are talking about Desdemona, and this is all he needs.

In the final scene, Othello stands at the bed where Desdemona is sleeping and marvels in her beauty. He thinks of all she meant to him, the recent events, and how dark his soul has become. He compares it to the blackness of his face, and Desdemona's soul to the white and purity of her face. He is also battling his feelings of wanting revenge, and not wanting to kill her. While he is standing over her, she wakes up. She asks why he is standing there. He tells her to repent of her sins...confess, really. She tells him, consistently, that she is innocent. He is so blinded and cold, that he just tells her to pray for mercy on her soul.

She begs him for just one day; he refuses. She begs for just a half hour more; he refuses. He also tells her, before he kills her, that he found the handkerchief with Cassio after he had Cassio killed. Unfortunately, Iago kills Roderigo instead of Cassio, so the truth of his plot would not be discovered. She is grief stricken, but does not confess. He then smothers her, but is interrupted when Emilia enters the room. In his guilt, Othello tries to cover up what he did, thinking Desdemona is dead. She is not dead yet, and speaks. She absolves Othello of any guilt before she dies.

Emilia starts cussing him out, because he acted as the devil and his wife as an angel. Though she knew about the plot to destroy him, she never said anything. (Again, some sources suggest that when Cassio spoke of the handkerchief, Emilia finally realizes what the plot really was about.)

At this time, the others come in the room, including Iago and Cassio. They learn Desdemona is dead, and all agree that they are glad that her father is not alive to witness this. Bianca gives the handkerchief back to Cassio, which prompts Emilia to talk about Iago's plot to destroy Othello.

She reveals what role the handkerchief played in all of this. It was just a token of deceit by Iago, because of his jealousy of Cassio. but, she still did not reveal her role in all of this...just kept it quiet that she stole the handkerchief in the first place. Because of this, Iago finally confesses. But it is too late, and Othello realizes how foolish he has been. Othello does not want to believe this, but doesn't want to deny it either. He is overcome with grief and before he kills himself, he stabs Iago. Iago is only wounded and not killed. Othello then kills himself in a very over-dramatic fashion.

Iago is angry because Emilia told everyone what he had done, and stabs her in the back. He then runs in fear. The officials catch up with him, arrest him, and inform all that he will be tortured and executed because of his part in the plan. Cassio ends up as lieutenant of the guards in another city and Iago is arrested.

The handkerchief is the basis of this tragedy. Because so much worth is put on such a little thing, the villain was able to bring misery and death to his very best friend. And what was the motive behind all of this? Jealousy -- pure and simple. This play, by the way, is where we got the saying, "the green-eyed monster" to describe jealousy. Iago suggested, at the beginning of the play, that the "green-eyed monster" will strike and has stricken...sort of a prophecy.

This isn't just about a handkerchief -- it's about how fragile human emotions and relationships really are. If people wouldn't put so much thought and stress on things, there would be less suffering in all relationships.


Lowenstein, Daniel. "Emilia" Online Posting. 27 Jun 1996. Shakesper: The Global Electronic Shakespeare Conf.

13 Nov. 2002 http://www.shaksper.net/archives/1996/0489.html.

Material History of American Religion Project. Ed. R. Marie Griffith.

Harvard. 13

Nov. 2002. http://www.materialreligion.org/journal/handkerchief.html

Classic Notes: Othello, Act III.

Grade Server.

Nov. http://www.classicnote.com/ClassicNotes/Titles/othello/summ3.html [END OF PREVIEW]

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