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The Deaths in Othello and Their Meaning
Transcript of The Deaths in Othello and Their Meaning
Shows the collateral damage of Iago's evil, conniving plans.
Iago stabs his wife, Emilia, in Act 2, Scene 5, after she reveals that it was Iago that had Desdemona's handkercheif.
Iago shows great hostility when Emilia begins to say she's going to tell the truth, the first public show of his inner evil in the play.
After stabbing Emilia, Iago runs off and doesn't comment on her death for the rest of
, showing he has no remorse.
Her death conveys her loyalty to her lady, Desdemona, as she begs to be by her side when she dies.
She also serves as an representation of the corruption of the truth in the play.
She dies trying to speak the truth- "So come my soul to bliss, as I speak true. / So speaking as I think, alas, I die." (Shakespeare 351)
Her death symbolizes the corruption of innocence in the play.
Desdemona is the only pure figure in
, and that corruption is symbolized in her handkerchief, which is white with red strawberries.
Her handkerchief is the catalyst for most of the conflict and for the conviction Othello feels for Desdemona's guilt.
Central symbol of the corruption and fall from grace- from a great, honest, and modest man to one who slaps his wife in public and murders her in private.
He's easily blinded by anger and betrayal, caused by Iago, and murders Desdemona.
Othello's suicide- shows, in the end, he was a moral and just man, just blinded by Iago’s deception. He felt extreme remorse for killing Desdemona.
“When you shall these unlucky deeds relate, / Speak of me as I am. Nothing extenuate, / Nor set down aught in malice.” (Shakespeare 361) Othello asks Lodovico, Cassio, and Gratiano to not belittle the severity of what he did or make it seem more evil than it is, but to keep it as honest as possible. Illustrating that in the final moments of his life he realizes his grave mistake and unearths those modest and honest qualities he had in the beginning of the play.
He also still loves Desdemona when he dies- “I kissed thee ere I killed thee. No way but this,/ Killing myself upon a kiss.”
Murdered by Iago, it unveils Iago's ruthlessness.
He's willing to murder what may be his closest thing he has to a friend, rather than put his plans in jeopardy.
“Now, whether he kill Cassio/ Or Cassio him, or each do kill the other/ Every way makes my gain.” (Shakespeare 309) ( Act 5, Scene 1)
Desdemona's death could also illustrate her loyalty to Othello until the end. Even when she was on her death bed, she denied Othello was the one who killed her.
Also, it shows her naivete and blind trust for Othello.
He literally dies of a broken heart.
“Poor Desdemon, I am glad thy father is dead; / They match was mortal to him and pure grief / Shore his old thread in twain.” – Gratiano (Shakespeare 347)
Brabantio dies of grief after Desdemona runs off with Othello
“By Heaven, I saw my handkerchief in’s hand./ O perjured woman, thou dost stone my heart,/ And mak’st me call what I intend to do/ A murder, which I thought a sacrifice./ I saw the handkerchief”
Doesn’t actually die. He serves as symbolic devil figure in Othello deceiving and manipulating everyone around him to fulfill his plans, like the snake in the Garden of Eden.
“I look down towards his feet, but that’s a fable.” (Shakespeare 355)
Othello talking about how he’s looking for cloven hooves of the devil in Iago’s feet. Act 5, Scene 2.
After Othello stabs Iago, but doesn’t kill him, “I am not sorry neither. I’d have thee live, / For in my sense ‘tis happiness to die.” Foreshadowing Othello’s suicide and Iago being tortured, a fate Othello deems worse than death.
“Demand me nothing. What you know, you know. From this time forth, I will never speak a word.” To which Gratiano replies, “Torments will ope your lips.” (Shakespeare 357)
Iago’s silence causes him to be hauled off to be tortured, a fate worse than death. That torture is symbolic of Hell, again nodding to the fact that Iago is the devil figure in the play.
The violence and deaths in
are not just violence for violence sake. Almost every death is planned and serves a purpose. I'll be analyzing the meaning behind the deaths in
and what they reveal about some of the characters.
Shakespeare, William. Othello. New York: Barnes & Noble, 2007. Print.
Foster, Thomas C. How to Read Literature like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading between the Lines. New York: Quill, 2003. Print.