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Literary Devices in Othello

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Olivia Shumbo

on 25 May 2014

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Transcript of Literary Devices in Othello

A black ram
Location: I.i.97-98
Quote: "Even now, now, very now, an old black ram is tupping your white ewe."
The metaphor is from Iago who is telling Brabantio that his daughter (the white ewe) is having sex with Othello (the old black ram). Iago is insulting Othello by calling him an old ram and using his skin color to add more meaning behind the insult.
Location: I.iii.391-392
Quote: "The food that to him now is as luscious as locusts shall be to him shortly as bitter as coloquintida."
This comparison uses like or as so it is a simile. Locusts were often believed to be the food of God, so they were in fact "luscious". Iago is explaining that what is now to Othello delicious and sustaining will turn bitter and unwanted. Iago is referring to Othello's romance with Desdemona as the locusts. He (Iago) plans to turn that romance sour and distasteful as coloquintida.
Locusts and Coloquintida
Omission (Ellipsis)
Definition: When a word or phrase not necessary for understanding is omitted from the sentence. This is often to improve the flow of the sentence for the speaker (if it is a spoken part).
Location: I.iii.5-6
Quote: "And mine, a hundred forty." "And mine, two hundred."
This omission of "is" serves the purpose of increasing the flow of the two speakers. It is necessary for phrases in a play to flow certain ways depending on the context of them and on the characters speaking them. Because these two quotes are from two military men talking about battle maneuvers, it is important for the wording to create a tone of importance for the characters and to help their voices project smoothly.
Literary Terms in Othello
A white ewe
Plant used to make coloquintida
Definition: The repetition of the last word or phrase of one line or clause to begin the next line or clause.
Location: I.iii.94
Quote: "It is most true; true I have married her."
This use of anadiplosis helps develop the setting of the story because it helps create a sense of how the people in this era and place (of the world) spoke and acted. Anadiplosis also creates beauty in this phrase because it flows better. It also helps the ideas progress in a way that is easier to follow.
Definition: The purposeful repetition of the first part of a sentence in the following phrases or sentences.
Location: I.iii.107-109
Quote: "I will a round unvarnished tale deliver of my whole course of love- what drugs, what charms, what conjuration, and what mighty magic..."
Anaphora is used here to create an artistic flow in the wording of what Othello is saying in this quote. This literary term helps put emphasis on important words and/or ideas in a sentence. It does this here by emphasizing each and every thing that Othello is claiming to not have used when wooing Desdemona.
Definition: A literary device/term where two or more clauses are repeated against each other in inverse order.
Location: III.iii.199-200
Quote: "But O, what damned minutes tells he o'er who dotes, yet doubts; suspects, yet (strongly) loves!"
Words of affection are "dotes" and "strongly loves" and words of doubting are "doubts" and "suspects". These two ideas (affection and doubting) occur in a repeated and inverted format which makes this an example of chiasmus. This was used to show the great contrast of how Iago thinks Othello will feel about Desdemona after Iago tells him (Othello) what he thinks he knows of Desdemona.
Location: II.iii.85-86
Quote: "Why, he drinks you, with facility, your Dane dead drunk."
This use of alliteration puts emphasis on the main subject of what Iago and Cassio are talking about; drinking. It increases how understandable their conversation is by putting stress on the "d" in each word which in turn brings out the word "drunk".
Location: I.iii.184-186
Quote: "She swore, in faith, 'twas strange, 'twas passing strange, 'twas pitiful, 'twas wondrous pitiful."
This oxymoron uses two words that are opposites of each other to describe one thing (the stories of the life of Othello that he told to Desdemona). This helps develop a better understanding of how Desdemona feels about what Othello told her because it shows how there are two completely different feelings it gives her that make up her one feeling towards his life story.
Definition: A literary device that uses components in a sentence that are grammatically the same; or similar in their construction, sound, meaning or meter.
Location: I.iii.380-404
Quote: Iago repeats "put money in thy purse" and other forms of this eight times throughout his monologue to Roderigo
Iago’s parallelism reminds Roderigo of the wealth he would gain if he joins Iago, this causes Roderigo to lose his miserable state and gain one of optimism and stability.
Location: I.iii.333-334
Quote: "Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see. She has deceived her father, and may thee."
This quote, spoken by Brabantio, foreshadows that it is possible for Desdemona to deceive Othello since she decieves her own father. Although it is not Desdemona who ends up deceiving Othello, if Othello had remembered this quote from Brabantio, it might have made him believe Iago even more than he does when he tells him that Desdemona cheated on him (Othello).
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