English – Critical Essay – Quotes (“Othello” by William Shakespeare)

Introduction “Othello” by William Shakespeare is a play in which “essay question”. The play focuses around the character of Iago, who throughout the play uses his skills at manipulation and deception to bend other characters to his will. As the play progresses, the audience see that this behaviour turns more and more obsessive as Iago endeavours to cause the other characters suffering and get what he wants. This essay shall discuss the message of this text – the power of jealousy, the disastrous effects it can have – and how this message is reflected in the obsessive behaviour of Iago.
“One Michael Cassio, a Florentine… that never set a squadron in the field.” – Iago initially provides the reader with a motive for his hatred and persecution of Othello. Iago feels let down that he was not awarded the job, given his expertise in battle.Act 1 Scene 1 / Paragraph 1
“my own peculiar end” – Immediately contradicts his earlier motive, saying now that he in fact does what he does merely for his own gains, and not for his hatred of Othello. Clearly marks him as a duplicitous character right from the start.Act 1 Scene 1 / Paragraph 1
“I am not what I am” – Reminds the audience once more that Iago isn’t as he appears, that he is not to be trusted.Act 1 Scene 1 / Paragraph 1
“O beware, my lord, of jealousy: It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.” – Metaphor – Iago gives this speech warning Othello of the dangers of jealousy. Although this appears good advice, in fact it is devious of Iago – he is using it to point his general’s thoughts in the direction of jealousy and his wife.Act 3 Scene 3 / Paragraph 2
(“As I confess it is my nature’s plague to spy into abuses, and oft my jealousy shapes faults that are not.”) – Iago warns Othello that he is a jealous man and often imagines situations which are not true. Othello does not react to this warning, showing how trusting he is of his ‘friend’, and how concerned he already is about his wife’s supposed affairs.Act 3 Scene 3 / Paragraph 2
“I speak not yet of proof. Look to your wife, observe her well with Cassio… she did deceive her father, marrying you.” – Iago echoes Brabantio’s words from Act 1, making Othello doubt his wife’s honesty. However, also tells his general that he has no proof of her cheating on him with Cassio (something he goes on to contradict later in the scene).Act 3 Scene 3 / Paragraph 2
“This fellows of exceeding honesty… ’tis destiny unshunnable like death.” – Othello delivers a soliloquy, highlighting how unsure he is of his wife and marriage, and foreshadowing his later suffering in the final Act. Marks the fact that Iago’s plan appears to be working.Act 3 Scene 3 / Paragraph 3
(“I lay with Cassio lately…”), (“Such a handkerchief – I’m sure it was your wife’s – did I today see Cassio wipe his beard with”) – Iago chooses this point to provide his ‘evidence’ for Desdemona’s unfaithfulness, using Othello’s already significant uncertainty to make it seem plausible. The fact that he said he had no evidence but then provides some proves again how deceitful a character he is.Act 3 Scene 3 / Paragraph 3
“Arise, black vengeance…” – The scene ends with Othello making clear that his trust in his wife has been totally shattered.Act 3 Scene 3 / Paragraph 3
(“Down strumpet!… Nay, if you strive… [he smothers her]”) – This is the scene in which Othello finally gives into Iago’s trickery, and commits murder to stop his wife hurting anyone else as he believes she has done to him.Act 5 Scene 2 / Paragraph 4
“You told a lie, an odious damned lie: Upon my soul, a lie, a wicked lie!” – Emilia discover’s Desdemona’s body, and is horrified to find out from Othello that her husband has been the cause of this tragedy. She denounces Iago as a liar and a villain in front of everyone, and from this point his plan begins to fall to pieces.Act 5 Scene 2 / Paragraph 4
“I bleed, sir, but not kill’d” – even having been outed as the villain of this play, Iago still tries to one-up Othello, regardless of how futile at this point. Act 5 Scene 2 / Paragraph 4
“Demand me nothing; what you know, you know. From this time forth I never will speak word” – Iago refuses to reveal any more information about him or his plan, showing how truly disloyal a character he is – he doesn’t even have the grace to explain his crimes. Still tries to one-up Othello, as before. Othello’s reaction is significant, as this quote drives him over the edge – Iago has the audacity to keep trying to beat him, and Othello cannot cope with the fact that not only has he been duped into killing his wife, but he cannot even find out why Iago has done what he has done. This leads him to suicide.Act 5 Scene 2 / Paragraph 4