Patience in Othello

In a play of jealousies and passions, patience, as a virtue, is presented as a foil to the “raging motions” seen in many characters. There are two aspects to patience in Othello, demonstrated firstly by suspending intellectual judgment and repressing instinctive emotional responses until they may be validated and grounded with logic and truth, and secondly through withstanding emotional pain and sustaining one’s integrity despite the tragedies that may have befallen one. The Duke, the voice of rationality, remarks, “What cannot be preserved when fortune takes, / Patience her injury a mockery makes.”

Shakespeare presents this lack of patience in the titular character of Othello, who, as a result, falls to tragic depths. Initially rational, Othello is capable of choosing patient reason over passion or aggression. He says to an enraged Brabantio, “Keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them,” thereby demonstrating his control of his emotions - which appears all the more noble when juxtaposed against Brabantio’s own impassioned and rash aggression. The Blackamoor in this scene emerges as the more rational and composed of the two, whilst Brabantio continues to make preposterous indictments of witchcraft against Othello and...

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