Importance of Literary Devices in Othello

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This passage highlights Iago’s character through the use of diction, imagery, irony, and other instances of figurative language. In this exchange, Iago continues to inconspicuously accuse Desdemona of being unfaithful to Othello and accuse Cassio of being disloyal to his superiors. He inserts various remarks at different times to execute this plan. At the end of this echange, Iago has effectively created an unfaithful and untruthful image of Cassio and Desdemona, and planted a seed of jealousy and doubt in Othello.

First of all, the use of diction and imagery is an integral part of the passage. The use of the phrase “green-eyed monster creates a realistic image for readers. Typically, the color green is seen symbolic for jealousy. “Green denotes the specific color, but connotatively, it could be seen as the color of envy. “Monster could denote a savage, vicious creature, which Iago is trying to personify as jealousy. These two words together create a “green-eyed monster that emphasizes the power that jealousy has on its victim, and what it could to to Othello.

Furthermore, Shakespeare uses the phrase “meat it feeds on to not only victimize Othello, but also to suggest that he should have reason to doubt his romantic relationship and friendship with Desdemona and Cassio respectively. By saying that Othello is the “meat it feeds on, Iago is implying that his relationships are being barbarically destroyed. Typically predators “feed on the meat of their victims. In this way, Iago is implying that Othello is a victim, which is out of character for the “man Othello wants to be seen as. Othello worked hard to become the well regarded man he is, and the mere thought of becoming the “prey seemingly furthers Iago’s ability to control Othello. This shows Iago’s true intention when he describes the “green-eyed monster.

Similarly, Iago intentionally uses the word “cuckold because it is such a feared term in the Renaissance era. A cuckold is a man whose wife has cheated on him with another man. At this time, men typically believed their wives were their property; they deserve nothing more than being treated like a square acre of land. At this time, once a wife and husband were married, it was nearly impossible to divorce each other because of the stigma a “cuckold holds. Therefore, simply mentioning the term “cuckold has a significant amount of power over someone with such a weight-bearing name as Othello. If it ever got out that he was a cuckold, his reputation and all that he has worked for, could be completely erased because of his wife’s infidelity.

The irony in which Shakespeare portrays through the use of this metaphor is a essential part of the play. In the passage, Iago creates a monster out of jealousy, but this exchange is ironic because Iago is trying to subtly make Othello jealous of someone he does not need to be jealous of. What is also ironic is that Iago, himself, is jealous of those who succeed. So in this case, he is fueled by his jealousy of Cassio, and feels the need to make sure that Cassio does not succeed in his endeavors.

He is one of the first victims of this “monster that he, himself, creates though. Iago holds such resentment towards Cassio simply because he has “taken his promotion from him. In his mind, Cassio and Othello both deserve this punishment that Iago is planning, and selectively chooses each word for a certain sinister purpose. For instance, when Iago states, “O, beware my lord, of jealousy!, the audience is drawn into the loop, and thus, increases the dramatic irony within the play. This statement, “beware my lord, of jealousy, is said completely as an act to fool Othello. It is only after this line that the audience is able to eliminate all doubt about Iago’s plan is. There is also irony in the sole character of Iago and in nearly every line Iago has. He is never completely telling the truth, so the audience is aware of his true intentions hidden in his wordplay. In the beginning of this passage, for example, Iago exclaims, “My lord, you know I love you. (Act 3, scene 3) The irony in this line is that Iago obviously feels a sense of hatred towards Othello to be committing these heinous acts against his supposed “lord. The audience knows that he does not actually love Othello, and is pulled further into the conspiracy that Iago is planning.

This passage portrays Iago’s powerful effect on others, especially on a trusting and gullible character like Othello. At the beginning of the passage, Othello had no doubt about Desdemona’s fidelity; he knew for a fact that she loved him and would never cheat on him. Iago’s wording, however, makes it seem as if Desdemona’s infidelity was Othello’s idea all along; Iago never does out right tell Othello that he believes Desdemona is cheating on him. He, instead, makes sure that Othello knows that Iago is a close confidant who would never have even the slightest thought of hurting Othello. However, Iago’s crafty, but elusive nature is able to completely flip Othello’s mindset in one conversation. At the end of just this one section, Iago has Othello convinced that Desdemona is a whore: “I’ll tear her to pieces Damn her, lewd minx! (Act 3, scene 3) By the end of the play, Othello is completely changed because he has been taken over by the “green-eyed monster of jealousy, induced by Iago’s crafty manipulation. This is shown by his use obvious change in character at the end of the story when he impulsively murdered his love of his life. At the end of the passage, Iago implies the need for strong evidence if one were being cuckolded: “What damned minutes tells her o’er who dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves! (3.3.212) He has not only convinced Othello of Desdemona’s infidelity, he has convinced Othello that if he were to only suspect that she is cheating, it will be torment for him without actual proof of the infidelity: “Poor and content is rich, and rich enough; But riches fineless is as poor as winter To him that ever fears he shall be poor. Good (God), the souls of all my tribe defend From jealousy! (3.3.195). Thus, Iago is able to plant the seed that Othello should be looking for clues of evidence. Again, Iago does all of this without explicitly telling Othello what to do; he does this all subtly in his language and wording.

This passage also brings up the controversial question of who the antagonist of the play is. The obvious answer is Iago because of all the wrongdoing he has committed throughout the play. This passage, however, can give readers a more definitive answer because of the emphasis of the idea and personification of “jealousy. In a way, Iago is the one who is controlled the most by this monster. He fits the most basic definition of what jealousy at its core is, as shown by his acts: Iago is someone who will not fall victim to becoming number two, and he destroys all that is in his way to fulfill the needs of his “green-eyed monster. This shows readers who the real antagonist of the play is: jealousy. This trait has the ability to take control of any person, regardless of their background, and completely corrupt them.

The play, as a whole, is a perfect representation of the importance of literary devices and characterization. Using diction, imagery, irony, and several other methods, Shakespeare creates a world overflowing with jealousy. There is so much meaning in a simple two lines of a the story, but it is able to portray the power that the “green-eyed monster has on even seemingly the most put together and powerful figures such as Othello or even Iago. These lines also emphasize jealousy’s growth over time, and how it can manifest after one conversation, and end up destroying the life of an entire group of people.

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Importance Of Literary Devices In Othello. (2019, Feb 02). Retrieved from

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