Images in Othello
The function of imagery in the mid-sixteenth century play Othello by William Shakespeare is to help characterisation and define meaning in the play. The antagonist Iago is specified through many different images, Some being using poison and soporifics, sleeping representatives, to show his real evil and vicious nature. Othello’s character is also shaped by much images such as the animalistic, black and white, and horse images which indicates his lustful, sexual nature. Characterisation of females is heavily determined by images utilized to reveal the patriarchal gender system of the time.
A few of this images is that of hobbyhorses and so forth showing that they, Desdemona and Emelia, were absolutely nothing better than typical whores. Othello’s view at the start of the play is opposing of these patriarchal views with Desdemona and Othellos’ true love conquering these stereotypes and we are told this through images of fair warriors and so forth. The power of deceit is shown also through images of spiders and webs, uniforms and other such images. Likewise the power of jealousy is well specified by imagery. The handkerchief, green-eyed beast and cuckolding images are prominent in defining this theme.
The satanic character of Iago is depicted well though various types or imagery. His sadist intend is depicted through suffocating imagery “I’ll put plague into his(Othello’s) ear” (II iii 356) says Iago in a soliloquy in as he is detailing his malicious intent and nature. This continues throughout the play with lines such as “The Moor currently alters with my poison” (III iii 322) and “Not poppy nor mandragora,|Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world shall medication thee to that sweet sleep|Which thou did owdest yesterday” (III iii 327-30).
His destructive character is compared to a snake through this images of poisons like a snake has and after that Lodovico calls him a “Viper” (V ii 281) which indicates how Iago’s character is that of a snake, and in those times a snake was thought about an animal of pure evil. The Machiavellian personality of Iago can also be translucented his use of credibility images to Cassio and Othello. To Cassio he says “Track record is an idle and most incorrect imposition” (II iii 267-8) and as a paradox, to Othello, he says track record is whatever to a man and he is absolutely nothing with out it.
Iago is likewise compared quite, though imagery, to the Devil. “I look down towards his feet-but that’s a fable.|If thou be’st a devil, I can not kill thee.” (V ii 282-3) and he also is called a? demi-devil’ and other terms. Othello is also highly characterised by images too. Images portrays to us his animalistic nature that his cultural background recommends to the audience he has. “You’ll have your child covered with a Barbary horse, you’ll have your nephews neigh to you, you’ll have coursers for cousins and gennets for germans. (I i 8-12) This is suggesting that Othello is a an animal, particularly a horse, which depersonalises him to the level of more an animal than a man. Another quote suggesting this is when Iago says “An old black ram|Is tupping your(Brabantio’s) white ewe.” This also is decreasing Othello to the level of an animal. Othello’s black skin too is defined by imagery like that of the quote above and others such as “Run … to the sooty bosom|of such a thing as thou” (I iii 69-70). Othello’s black skin is enhanced so much that it becomes in essential part of his character it can not be disregarded at any stage of the play.
Othello is also illustrated as being evil and violent and a devil, due to the fact that of his cultural background. “You … blacker devil” (V ii 130) is a line which reflects how his skin colour and expected evilness go together. Paradox plays a major part in the significance of deception in Othello. Throughout the play Othello is constantly referred to as a devil; “Thou art a devil” (V ii 132) says Emelia of Othello. This is based around his black skin and being of non-Venetian descent which makes him an alien to his peers.
Yet in the end it is proved that Iago is the real “Demi-devil” (V ii 297) whereas through the entire play Othello is constructed out to be a devil due to the fact that of his skin colour and from this we can se how racial bias existed strongly in the mid 16th century. Female characters in the play Othello are likewise figured out to a degree by images. Ladies are not treated with any lot of regard throughout the play since of the phallocentric society of the time and this reveals through the imagery represented of females throughout the play. Woman of the street imagery plays a heavy part in illustrating women through the play with females being called any terms such as “Hobby-horse(s)”, “Minx(s)” and “Minion(s)”. Desdemona, Emelia and Bianca are all described a few of these names throughout the length of the play. Through the disregard for the emotions and feelings of females by men in the play we can see how it concurred with the patriarchal views on females of its contemporary audience. Ladies throughout the play are dealt with as objects by there male counterparts. This is evident through the death of all but one lady, Bianca. They die because of males’s need to have them as a belongings that they can control and if they can’t control them what usage to them are they.
Iago takes his vengeance out on Emelia, his wife and residential or commercial property by eliminating her even as she speaks. This images of the silence and what it represents is that females need to be quiet no matter what, because if the silence is not kept it might be completion as was the case for Emelia. The image that leads to the demise of Desdemona is that of the strawberry embroidered scarf given, by Othello, to Desdemona. The handkerchief is a really important symbol of “Love, lust, Desdemona’s virginity and sexuality” *. As Iago phases for Cassio to be seen with it, it demonstrated to Othello that he has actually lost Desdemona, for that reason for his honour she need to not live.
The unique love and feelings shared between Othello and Desdemona is illustrated through such images as? fairness’, the act of kissing, and ocean and water imagery. At the start of act two Othello greets Desdemona as “My fair warrior” (II i 180), however then his views begin to alter, as when Iago’s? toxin’ has actually started to take effect, Othello then describes Desdemona as “The reasonable devil” (III iv 475) which reflects his respect and honour he has for Desdemona. Another symbol for Othello’s affection for Desdemona is that of freezing cold water. Othello compares his heart towards Desdemona was “Like … he Pontic Sea|Whose icy existing and compulsive course|Nev’r keeps retiring ebb”. This quote show how Desdemona does not have Othello’s favour because of the lies of Iago which have actually convinced Othello he has been cuckolded. However Othello’s love for Desdemona is changeless. This conclusion can be drawn from the kissing that occurs throughout the play. Even when Othello has taken the dying breaths from Desdemona’s lungs he “kissed thee (Desdemona) ere and killed thee” (V ii 354) and to represent he will constantly love her he “Pass away(s) upon a kiss” (V ii 355).
This is ultimate irony that he would be kissing his love whose life he simply extinguished. He did it however, not out of hate however so she would not “Betray more males” (V ii 6). The ideas of deceit and sincerity are tested throughout the play through pictures of spiders and webs, uniforms and crests. Othello, Desdemona and Cassio all think about Iago a “Fellow of going beyond honesty,|And knows all qualities, with a learned spirit” (III iii 357) and has exceptional “Sincerity and love” (II iii 246). However truly his genuine goal is to, “When my outward action doth demonstrate|The native act and figure of my heart|In complement exturn,? is not long after|But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve|For the daws to peck at; I am not what I am.” (I i 58). Because of Iago’s apparently sincere nature and Othello’s credulity he is able to put his “Monstrous birth to the world’s light.” The jealousy in all beings souls is evident throughout the play through numerous symbols and images of monsters, toads and the horns of the cuckold. Jealousy is “The green-eyed monster which doth mock|The meat it eats.” states Iago which stops Othello from ever having “Sweet sleep” (III iii 329) again.
This jealousy which, although Othello says he does not believe, eats up Othello inside, and is present through lines such as that Othello would “Rather be a toad|And live upon the vapour of a dungeon|Than keep a corner in the thing. (he). love(s)” (III iii 269). And the images of the horns of the cuckold is likewise an ever-present image with Othello “Have(ing) a discomfort upon. (his). forehead, here” (III iii 284). These are imaginary horns Othello believes he is growing due to the fact that of his blossoming issues about Desdemona’s integrity and sincerity.
Othello is very afraid of cuckoldry as “A horned male’s a beast and a monster.” (IV i 62). So we can see how important honour and loyalty of his wife was to the contemporary male. Images, as we can see, is essential in the play Othello to meaning of characters and to illustrate the primary meanings of the play. Imagery functions as a main source of characters nature such as Iago, the vicious, harmful antagonist whose devastating powers controls the fates of other characters. Othello, the poor misdirected Moor and our tragic protagonist who succumbs to the evil tortures of a malevolent buddy.
Desdemona, who was loved by a misguided, noble Moor who wound up dead since of the hatred of one male. And Emelia, the poor spouse of the demonic Iago who bears the impact of his vicious nature. Imagery is also essential in understanding the issues of the play such as the jealousy in all males through the images of the green-eyed monster and the horns of the cuckold. Also the power of deceit in a wicked male’s hand is likewise represented well as the end scene is “The tragic loading of this bed” (V ii 359) because of effective images such as spiders and webs used by the manipulative Iago.