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Othello's Change in Character

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Kate Zwigard

on 3 March 2014

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Transcript of Othello's Change in Character

Othello's Change in Character
Othello's Change in Speech
“But that I love the gentle Desdemona,”
(Act 1, Scene 2)
Othello's Personality Changes
In Act four scene one, through manipulation, Iago influences Othello’s views by building false images of Desdemona and Cassio in love. This leads to Othello's transformation from a wise and rational thinker to confused and collapsed. The distorted mindset which Othello gained caused changes in his personality and actions. Shakespeare shows a disintegration of Othello’s personality and language through the use of diction, imagery and situations created in the complicated plot of the act.

The rational and calm Othello collapses to become savage and irrational. For example in Act one, Othello is portrayed to use phrases such as “phrase of peace” and “I will…deliver of my whole course of love”. The use of diction like ‘peace’ and ‘love’ shows his deep and pure trust in their everlasting love at the beginning of the play. However the contrast is displayed in act four scene one, as Othello’s uncontrollable and empowering jealously transformed him into a savage and irrational character. He uses phrases such as “how shall I murder him?” and “ I will chop her into messes”. The use of words such as ‘murder’ in contrast to ‘peace’ displays his significant change in personality as he now speaks of violence especially towards Cassio and his wife whereas throughout the beginning of the play he attempts to keep calm and rational.
Transformation of Othello's Character Traits

Othello is stable and powerful
He is a general and is put in charge of Cyprus
Othello is calm and polite
He calls the senators 'noble' and 'masters'
Othello is an outsider
He is called 'The Moor'

Othello loves Desdemona
He calls her 'my soul's joy'
Othello is manipulated by Iago
He asks for and believes 'the proof' Iago gives
Othello is jealous
He calls Desdemona 'the fair devil'
Othello's feelings towards his marriage change
in the play He was happy then talks of the 'curse of marriage'
Othello becomes unstable
He trembles at news of an affair between Cassio and his wife, then 'falls in a trance'
Othello regrets killing his wife
He asks to be 'roasted in sulphur' as punishment for killing her
Summary of Change
Throughout Shakespeare's tragic play, the main character, Othello,
undergoes extreme change in character. The Moore transforms
from a noble, trusting, and fair man, to a foul-minded, irrational,
and murderous husband. Change in Othello is particularly seen
towards Desdemona. He begins the play treating her gently to striking her in public, calling her a whore, and murdering her in an unfounded jealous rage.
“I’ll tear her to pieces.”
(Act 3, Scene 3)
Influences from Iago are a major cause for Othello’s personality and language transformation from being gentle and sophisticated to crude impulsive.

At the beginning of the play, Othello would speak in reference to others as “my very noble and approved good masters” and “my lieutenant”. These phrases show the sophisticated language and peaceful personality Othello acts with at the beginning of the play. He also has confidence and trust in his troops and respects the people around him, especially his wife Desdemona by constantly referring to her as “ my dear love”.

Contrastingly, in act 4 scene one, Othello loses control over Iago’s manipulating tricks, and his mind fills with jealously and hatred against his wife and lieutenant. A drastic change in Othello's personality and language occurs as he becomes crude and impulsive. For example, Othello’s use of language reveals change when he refers to his wife saying, “she is a whore” and “Let her rot and perish and be damned tonight, for she shall not live”. By using unsophisticated language and describing Desdemona as a ‘whore’ and letting her ‘rot and perish’ shows Othello’s crude personality and also hints his impulsive nature. Impulsive because he quickly made the decision to ‘murder’ wife without understanding the whole situation, or thinking it through.
From start to finish, Othello changes character in several ways.The comparison between his initial and final traits have vast contrast, as he went through a complete transformation. Not only do the examples of what Othello went through show an individual metamorphosis of a person, but the ability for evil to replace good when one is faced with certain conditions. Manipulation can have intense power over a person, especially when fused with the forces of jealousy.

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