Role of Literary Devices in Othello

In Othello by William Shakespeare, Othello considers and thinks about all his actions before going through with them. By analyzing his soliloquies, we can understand his thoughts, and his reasons behind his actions. In act 5 scene 2 the first soliloquy Othello contemplated him killing his wife. This monologue gives you an inside scoop of Othello’s thinking process because he doesn’t want to kill his wife but feels as if he needs to. Othello makes choices that he might not want to do, but will have to and live with throughout the book. In this soliloquy Othello uses the literary devices of allusion to Greek Mythology, metaphors, and repetition to convey the idea of killing his wife because he feels like it is his duty or letting her live because he loves her.

Throughout his soliloquy in act 5 scene 2, Othello uses metaphors to contemplate killing his wife or letting her live. When Othello discusses killing Desdemona he compares her to a plucked rose when he said ” When I have plucked thy rose, I cannot give it vital growth again, It must needs wither (5.2.13-15). Othello compares Desdemona to a rose because when he kills Desdemona he can no longer fix their problems and she will no longer be alive, but he feels as if it needed to end. Othello also contemplates putting “out the light, and then put out the light. If I quench thee, thou flaming minister (5.2.7-8). Othello is comparing his wife to a candle and when he puts out the light of the candle he is really ending her life. The candle is usually put out right before people go to sleep. Desdemona was a candle because she was filled with life, but when he kills her she will no longer be alive. Othello really had to contemplate his plan and why he should kill his wife because he doesn’t want to because he knows she will be dead and he cannot reverse that, but he thinks he should kill her out of duty.

Othello, not only used metaphors to contemplate killing his wife, he also uses allusion to Greek Mythology. In the allusion Othello refers to Promethean Heat while saying “I know not where is that Promethean Heat, That can thy light relume. (5.2.12-13). Othello says this to remind him of the consequences for killing Desdemona because the Promethean Heat represents the power of life and bringing people back to life. Othello knows he cannot bring back Desdemona if he kills her, but he tries to justify his actions by thinking she is evil, cheated on him, and that there is no good left in her.

The third literary device Othello uses was repetition, it was used to help him think he owes it to the world to kill Desdemona. By using repetition it helps emphasis how he is trying to convince himself that killing Desdemona is the right thing to do and that it is his duty. Othello repeats “It is the cause multiple times throughout the soliloquy in the beginning Othello says “It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul. Let me not name it to you, you chaste stars, It is the cause (5.2.1-3). Othello is trying to convince himself that he has to kill her when he repeats “it is the cause he is repeating that he has to do this over and over again. Othello doesn’t want Desdemona to die but he feels like he has to kill her so he’s trying to make himself think he has to. When Othello says “you chaste stars, It is the cause (5.2.2-3), Othello makes it seem like the chaste stars is the universe and that he owes it to the world.

Othello’s thoughts of killing his wife out of duty or letting her live because he loves her developed throughout this soliloquy. Othello uses allusion to Greek Mythology to reason that once he kills her Othello cannot bring her back. Othello also used metaphor to warn himself once he blows out her candle, he is ending her life and cannot take that back. Finally, Othello uses repetition to convince himself that he has to kill Desdemona and that it is his duty. Othello ultimately ended up killing his wife out of spite.

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