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The Character Othello by William Shakespeare

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Kwame Livingston


English 211

Professor Kuziw

The Character Othello

In “Othello” by William Shakespeare, the main character Othello has several different

character traits. He is hard working, loving, affectionate amongst many other character traits, but

the one that affects him in the most negative way is how much of a trusting man he is. He lacks

the trait of a skeptic which allows him, as shown throughout the play to be thrown off and led

astray by someone that he thought was a friend. Iago plays a large if not the largest role in

corrupting Othello’s mind against his friends and confusing them to be his enemies. Meanwhile,

the actual enemy was the person he thought was his friend corrupting his mind and telling lies so

that Iago could reach his goal. Every act and every scene slowly transforms Othello into a new

man for the worse.

In the beginning of the story, Othello was very soft and respectful to everyone. He was

even polite to the characters that were rude and possibly racist towards him. His wife’s father

showed Othello love and friendship until he found that Othello and Desdemona were to be

married. Even after the father grew scornful hatred and malice in his heart for Othello and had no

problem expressing it, Othello was always respectful to everyone. The clearest change that

Othello makes within the play is his language towards his wife Desdemona.

In the very beginning of the play Othello refers to his wife Desdemona as gentle, soft and

sweet “But I love the gentle Desdemona,” (Act 1/Scene 2/ Line 25). Three acts after this takes

place Othello, through manipulation from Iago has become an entirely different man. Iago

aspired, and successfully put the idea in Othello’s head that his wife, Desdemona and his friend

as well as combat partner Cassio have fallen in love and are secretly having an affair behind

Othello’s back. Throughout the course of the play Othello is usually the peacemaker, rational

thinker, wise. Now after these thoughts were successfully placed in Othello’s conscious and

subconscious mind, Othello became confused, disrespectful and reckless. Othello even screams

violent pledges against his wife Desdemona to kill her. “I will chop her into messes: cuckhold

me!” (Act 4/Scene 1/Line 201). That line is enough to show the jump of emotion has

dramatically changed from “But I love the gentle Desdemona” to “I will chop her into messes:”.

The conditions in terms of living in Venice for Othello were rough to the point where he

could have been taken advantage of by Iago. He was culturally and racially an outsider of Venice

being the Moor that he is from North Africa. There is even a possibility that he did not

understand their dialect and norms as he would his own. The father of the woman he loved hated

him, there were many other citizens of Venice that also hated him because of his background.

The only reason why he was kept around was simply because he was needed to fight the

Ottoman Empire for the



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