Othello Literary Analysis

Subject: Literature
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 830
Topics: Book, Othello, William Shakespeare


Jealousy is like a poison, the consequences may be insignificant at first, but the outcome is always negative. Ironically, Othello’s jealousy drives him to attempt to poison Desdemona. His jealousy and Iago’s manipulations throughout the play bring about the culminating events in the tragic downfall of the play’s action. Indeed, the plot uses a variety of literary techniques such as dramatic tones, сharacterization and motifs to slowly draw the reader towards the tragedy of the play.

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Dramatic techniques to reveal the tragic plot

Dramatic devices in Shakespeare’s play are significant because they provide the reader with an idea of what is going to come later. One instance of a dramatic device used in this extract is the foreboding of Desdemona’s death. When Othello states: “Ay, let her rot and perish and be damned tonight for she shall not live!” (IV, i,178-179), it allows the reader to assume that Othello does not wish Desdemona to live on. The other instance of foreboding in this passage is Iago’s lines: “And for Cassio, let me be his undertaker. You shall hear more by midnight.”(IV, i, 206-207), which portends that he will try to murder Cassio. Othello’s tragic downfall in this excerpt is that he assumes that Iago and Cassio have been talking about Desdemona, and he is finally possessed by jealousy. Consequently, he swears to kill Cassio and Desdemona. Othello’s erroneous judgment and conclusions are the reason for Desdemona’s death, as he considers that he ultimately obtains sufficient proof of her infidelity, although he is mistaken.

Characterization in the play Othello

Characterization is another notable literary device used in the play. For example, we see how Iago shows care for Othello when he tells him the information about the handkerchief. He attempts to take hold of Othello’s attitude by declaring words that are in line with Othello’s reasoning in order to further impose on Othello that Desdemona is terrible for what she has done and that what he can do to her will be completely fair. Othello’s traits are equally evident in this situation, particularly his love for Desdemona. For instance, in lines 184-187 of the first scene of the fourth act, Othello states: “Hang her! I do but say what she is: so delicate with her needle, an admirable musician! O she will sing the savageness out of a bear! Of so high and plenteous wit and invention!” (IV, i, 184-187). This reveals to the reader that Othello is in despair that such an innocent person is capable of betraying him, and this is why Othello doubts when he strangles her farther on in the play. Iago’s envious nature is equally apparent at this point in the plot. Iago demonstrates his fake allegiance to Othello by presenting him insights by saying, “Do it not with poison; strangle her in her bed, even the bed she hath contaminated.”(IV, i, 203-204). Iago’s manipulative personality forces the other characters to confide in him until the very end of the play.

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Motifs to gradually lead the reader to the tragedy

Themes are essential to the development of the plot in Othello. Certain humanly familiar themes help to progress the story and unveil what is to come. These subjects involve manipulation, jealousy, and gender. Manipulation is a constant motif that runs throughout the play and is employed by no one else than Iago. Iago utilizes manipulation in this excerpt intelligently because he is consistently saying lines that will bring out Othello’s emotions. Iago states things such as “Did you perceive how he laughed at his vice?” (IV, i, 168), “did you see the handkerchief?” (IV, i, 170), to enrage Othello with Cassio’s actions. Jealousy is another interesting theme in the play. In point of fact, it was Othello’s jealousy that considered him a tragic hero. In the excerpt, Othello voices his jealousy in line 196, where he says: “I will chop her into messes! Cuckold me!”(IV, i, 196), which indicates that he is now sure that Desdemona is unfaithful to him, and with this proof, his jealousy turns into rage and hatred. In addition, hatred is an obvious topic to explore in this passage. He is enraged and hates Desdemona and Cassio for their treachery. His hatred is what eventually caused Othello to say, “Get me some poison, Iago, this night. I’ll not expostulate with her, lest her body and beauty unprovide my mind again – this night, Iago” (IV, i, 200,202), making it clear to the reader that he no longer wants her beauty to oppress his mind again.


Overall, Othello’s jealousy and Iago’s manipulative actions are the elements that drive the story to its tragic ending. This is accomplished through literary devices such as dramatic tones heralding Desdemona’s death and Cassio’s wounding, characterizations that allow the characters to be completely fleshed out to match the closing section of the play, and themes that build on the play itself. It is genuinely a miracle that the stars aligned so ideally for Iago. However, without such wonders, the story of Othello might never have happened.

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