Othello

“Explore how Shakespeare portrays Othello in Act V Scene II, focusing on this scene and relating it to the play as a whole”

In Act V Scene II, the final scene and crescendo of the play, we see Othello’s character truly unravel, falling into the depths of tragic heroism and despair. In this scene we see at last the resultant action from Iago’s “poison” words, as Othello murders Desdemona and then takes his own life. It is my opinion that this scene shows Othello to be the epitome of a tragic hero; his fall from grace unfolding with the very consequences that we knew, through dramatic irony, would occur. This scene is the most poignant of the play, made all the more bitter because we see Iago, a figure who we perpetually hate, to have wrought his plan of manipulation perfectly to its hideous conclusion, Desdemona dying “a guiltless death” at the hands of her own husband. I believe that Othello develops most as a character in this scene, as we see him shift clearly through three phases – anger, despair and finally, clear-headed realisation.

In this scene, and in the play as a whole, we see Othello developing into the quintessential tragic hero. In plays varying from Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex to Shakespeare’s Hamlet, we see the emergence and denouement of a tragic hero – usually, as is the case with Othello, a respected man of high societal standing. The...

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