shakemenu.GIF - 5152 Bytes

Othello - Character Analysis
    In the play Othello,  the character of Othello has certain traits 
which make him seem naive and unsophisticated compared to many other 
people. This is why Iago, to get his just rewards uses him as a 
scapegoat.  Iago told Roderigo, " O,sir, content you.  I follow him 
[Othello] to serve my turn upon him "(I, i lines 38-9).  Iago is 
saying, he only follows Othello to a point, and upon reaching it he 
will not follow him any longer.  Iago has opened my eyes to see the 
real meaning of deceit.  No matter what, Iago will try to take 
advantage of Othello any time and he will be easily lead to believe 
the lies of Iago.

    The Moor, as many Venetians call him, is of strong character.
He is very proud and in control of every move throughout the play.  
The control is not only of power but of the sense of his being who he 
is, a great warrior.  In Act I, Othello has a scuffle with Brabantio, 
who has come to kill him, but before anything could happen Othello 
said, "Hold your hands, both of you of my inclining and the rest.  
Were it my cue to fight, I should have known it without a prompter" 
(I, ii, lines 80-3).  The power shown here is quite astounding.  

    The nature of Othello's character is of a dark man. A
dark man, not only because he is black, but also because his whole 
person is very mysterious.  He is mysterious in that he believes there 
is magic brewing everywhere.  With this dark side he is also very 
outgoing, and not very bright.  He isn't observant and the schemes of 
Iago work  well on him. Though he doesn't reflect too much on his 
past, except occasional ventures of wars fought, he does let his 
emotions run his life. 

     For all the dangers and encounters he has been involved in, this 
man is still naive of the corruptness of other individuals. Othello 
has a trusting nature in which he gives it all. He put all his trust 
in Iago during times of war and during Othello's marriage to 
Desdemona. This wasn't very bright of Othello, even if he wasn't 
trusting or more corrupt he still wouldn't realize Iago was lying.  
Everyone considered Iago as honest, and would be out of character for 
Othello to believe any different. For example, Othello had told the 
Duke, "So please your grace, my ancient; A man he is of honesty 
and trust.  To his conveyance I assign my wife,  With what else 
needful your good grace shall think, To be sent after me" (I, iii, 
lines 284-8).

      The control over any situation is one Othello's strong 
characteristics.  Through the whole first act you can picture a man so 
much power and natural leadership and when he changes you cannot 
believe it.  For example, when Lodovico had witnessed Othello hit 
Desdemona, he said:

 "Is this the noble Moor whom our full Senate
 Call all in all sufficient?  Is this the nature
 Whom passion could not shake? whose solid virtue
 The shot of accident nor dart of chance
 could neither graze nor pierce" (IV, i, lines 264-8)?

While Iago, being the honest man he is, answers:

  "He's that he is, I may not breathe my censure.
 What he might be (if, what he might, he is not) 
 I would to heaven he were" (IV, i, lines 270-2).

     Another place where Shakespeare shows Othello taking control over 
a situation is when Cassio and Montano are fighting after Roderigo 
antagonized him.  These words Othello said are important now, but they 
will be more important later when he is alone with Desdemona in their 
bedroom. He will say:

 "Now, by heaven, 
 My blood begins my safer guides to rule,
 And passion, having my best judgement collied,
 Assays to lead the way.  If I once stir 
 Or do but lift this arm, the best of you 
 Shall sink in my rebuke" (II, iii, lines 203-8).

You must feel sorrow for Othello because with all the power he has and 
the endless trust he gives, you try to reach out and show him the 
truth.

     By having his ancient or friend, Honest Iago bring him the
news of his wife's bad habits.  Othello had no alternative but to 
believe him.  If any man was brought news of this type they would 
surely go off the deep end.  Iago not only told him but he told him in 
a way that it was hard not to believe.  He didn't tell a couple who 
have been married for years, and who would know the likes and dislikes 
of one another, but he told a newly wed couple.  Othello didn't really 
know Desdemona before they were married.  Othello said, "She loved me 
for the dangers I had passed, and I loved her that she did pity 
them"(I,iii, lines 166-7).  This man had really fallen in love with 
someone whose life was boring and needed adventure.

     Othello's origin also inhibited him from understanding
European women.  He did see for himself the deception of Desdemona 
toward her father and remembered the words he had said to him:

 "Look to her, Moor, if thou has eyes to see:
 She has deceived her father, and may thee"
(I, iii, lines 286-7).

When Othello has been given information from Iago in Act III scene 
iii, he cannot take any more so he asks Iago to leave in which he 
does. Upon returning, Iago continues to enforce his previous 
statements and Othello seems not bothered for he replies, "Fear not my 
government" (III, iii, 256).

    With all this there is no man who can withstand such news like the 
news that Iago has given to Othello.  Most of the men who are would do 
much worse than in the case of Othello.  This doesn't show jealousy, 
but when he is alone and has time to contemplate the situation 
and has seen the handkerchief in the hands of Cassio, now is when his 
blood begins his safer guides to rule.

     After realizing Othello had been tricked into believing
the lies of Iago. He couldn't handle the anguish of knowing he had 
murder in jealousy rather for justice.  This devastation in Othello's 
character brought the strong warrior back into the scene. Where he 
transformed into his own judge, jury, and sentenced himself.  He told 
the people around him in their letters to write of him not in malice, 
then he said:

 "Then you must speak of one that loved not wisely but too well" 
(V, ii, line 344).

After the speech was done he carried out his sentence, took a knife 
and  stabbed himself.  He then said:

"I kissed thee ere I killed thee. No way but this, Killing myself, to 
die upon a kiss" (V, ii, line 359-60).

He then laid down on the bed and died with dignity ( Stauffer 173).

     Othello was jealous. He was told his wife was cheating on him and 
he thought he was killing for justice. He even said he loved not 
wisely but too well.  When he did kill it was not very smart of him to 
believe another man about something he should know more about.  This 
play introduced changes in Othello's character when these changes 
evolved there was Iago lurking and waiting for the chance to jump in 
and take advantage of Othello. This why my belief of Othello is one of 
a man whose character is brought to light of a horrible situation by a 
deceitful devil named Iago.

Back To the Top ] [ Back To Essay Page ]
Complete Works Cliff Notes Free Papers! Biography Shakespeare Links Shakespeare discussion