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Free Study Guide-Othello by William Shakespeare-Free Online Booknotes
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USE OF LANGUAGE

In Othello, Shakespeare uses language as a vehicle for deliberate dramatic effect. Most striking are the carefully fashioned and quite distinct idioms he has invented for use by Iago and Othello. Iago often speaks in prose, using euphemisms for a conscious calculation of effective. For example, "Our bodies are our gardens, to which our ills are gardeners. So that if the audience will plant nettles or sow lettuce, set hyssop and weed up thyme, supply it with one gender of herbs or distract it with many, either to have it sterile with idleness or mannered with industry, why the power and authority of this lies in our wills". (Act I, Scene I). The parallelism and antithesis, the symmetrically balanced sentences and phrases are an exact measure of the cool self awareness that typifies all that Iago says and does. A similar self- consciousness is observable in Iagoís blank verse speeches. Whenever he resorts to simile or metaphor, there is always a strict control of the image, a closed quality, whereby a static mental picture is evoked rather than any dynamic imaginative propulsion into some wider topic. For example, "The thought whereof Doth like a poisonous mineral gnaw my inwards."


Othelloís idioms stem from egocentricity. Everything is judged and viewed from his eyes. He describes his love for Desdemona in selfish terms: "She loved me for the dangers I had passed, And I loved her that she did pity them". He also colors his fair and beautiful wife with military terms, calling her his "fair warrior," and his "captainís captain". More significant and fatal than verbal militarizing of his wife is that he makes her the sole object of his full powers of romantic projection. She is not only his love but Love itself which banished chaos from the universe at the beginning of the world (Act III, Scene III). But in the end, he believes that Desdemona has demeaned love and caused chaos. He then considers Desdemona a "fair devil," and a "black vengeance."

USE OF IMAGERY

The main imagery in Othello revolves around animals in action, preying on one another. More than half of these images are given by Iago. He refers to a plague of flies, a quarrelsome dog, the snaring of birds, asses led by the nose, wild cats, wolves, goats, and monkeys. Othello refers to foul toads, summer flies, the raven, aspicís tongues, crocodile tears, goats, and monkeys. The animals referred to are often loathsome insect, reptiles, or trapped animals.

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Free Study Guide-Othello by William Shakespeare-Free Plot Summary
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