Othello

Shakespeare's Use of Language in Othello

Shakespeare's Othello (Shakespeare, 1604) is a tragedy that unfolds based on the actions and language of one character: Iago. As a result, the plot is linear, yet the play manages to maintain a multidimensional effect. Shakespeare uses the language of the characters to achieve this multifaceted quality. Through the use of language (specifically Iago, Othello, and Desdemona), Shakespeare propels the plot, engages the audience, creates dramatic irony, and reveals the characters' psyches.

The eponymous character enters the play as an image rather than a physical presence. Preconceived notions of the play being about a black man notwithstanding, the first impression of Othello is associated with the unnamed man that Iago and Roderigo are in the middle of slandering when the play begins. Shakespeare builds the anticipation of seeing this man through the vivid images which Iago and Roderigo use to describe him. The audience learns he is a man of high military rank who is an independent thinker. Iago describes that there were "Three great ones in the city/ In personal suit to make me his Lieutenant" (I:i:8-9) but the thus far unnamed Othello "Evades them with a bombast circumstance" (I:i:13) by instead...

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