Othello – Trust and Betrayal

English Assignment In this image, Othello and Desdemona are sharing a passionate moment of love after being re-united in Cyprus. Both are wearing white garments; a symbol of purity, and framed in a black background. Othello’s white uniform contrasts with the colour of his skin accentuating his smiling feature, strength and regal stature. In the darkness behind them is the watching figure of Iago who is smirking. Othello calls her “My soul’s joy” which describes the depth of his love that Desdemona is intrinsic to his whole being.

He adds “If after every tempest comes such calms/ May the winds blow till they have wakened death”. This ironic comment foreshadows the horrific fate that awaits them both. Desdemona replies “The heavens forbid/ But that our loves and comforts should increase/ Even as our days do grow”. This highlights her religious convictions and the sanctity of their union. This image explores the idea that Othello feels infinite love for Desdemona which later transforms into infinite rage and hatred through the jealousy created by the scheming Iago.

Even at this moment, Iago is formulating his plan to convince Roderigo that Desdemona will soon “Begin to heave the gorge, disrelish and abhor the Moor” and therefore leave the way open for Desdemona to take another lover. This is how he maintains Roderigo’s hopes for being with Desdemona and thus, can continue to trick Roderigo into handing him all of his money and jewels. Image of Kenneth Brannargh and Lawrence Fishberne *The first image on the sheet but it would not copy across* This image explores the relationship between Othello and Iago.

Iago is to the side of Othello whispering into his left ear (the sinnister side) and it looks as if Iago is the demon on Othello’s shoulder. The lighting used has created a shadow over half of Othello’s face. This shadow represents Othello’s dark side which is revealed when he murders Desdemona in act 5. His aggressive expression foreshadows grim events as he is hearing the news of Desdemona’s infidelity. This image also represents Iago’s manipulative character and through this, shows Othello’s naivety.

Iago has already stated his position as a destructive force for Othello’s life. He has used animalistic and racist imagery to deter Brabantio from allowing the relationship to continue. He calls out to Brabantio “An old black ram is tupping your white ewe”. This voices the patriarchy’s deep fear. Brabantio is a senator and thus represents hereditary class and power and the fact that his daughter has married a black man destroys his status and power in society. Iago is determined to utterly destroy Othello.

He leaves Roderigo stating “Though I do hate him as I do hell pains/ Yet for necessity of present life I must show out a flag and sign of love”. Iago hates Othello and uses the promotion of Cassio as a justification for his actions. Iago builds up the doubt in Othello’s mind firstly by playing on Othello’s status as an outsider in Venetian society. He plans also to destroy Cassio at the same time “In double knavery” by suggesting “That he (Cassio) is too familiar with his (Othello’s) wife”.

Iago begins by giving Othello advice that he (Othello) is unfarmiliar with Venetian women and that it is common to have an affair. His next step is to plant the idea that Desdemona and Cassio are lovers. As Othello becomes weakened by Iago’s innuendos, Iago becomes more specific in his proofs, blantantly lying about Cassio’s behaviour. It would seem that success has been achieved when Othello no longer uses celestial imagery to describe his inner state and like Iago, uses profane animalistic images to express his thoughts.

After Iago has confronted Othello with the handkercheif, Othello says “Now, by yond marble heaven, in due reverence of a sacred vow/ I here engage my words”. This changes after Iago puts the idea of killing Desdemona into Othello’s head by saying “But let her live” to which Othello replies “Damn her, lewd minx! ”. The key idea of the play is the tragic undermining of the heroic and princely Othello by the manipulation and action of evil represented by Iago.

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