Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Role of Reputation in Othello

The beginning of the play Othello reveals the goals and the values of all the major characters. Every character has his or her unique qualities and desires. Since the beginning the participants can be divided into two groups- those who serve the community and those who serve themselves. These two peculiar camps are in absolute contrast with each other. The members of the second group use different methods to deceive and manipulate the honest and noble characters from the first group. Othello is the protagonist in the play who is a symbol of honesty and dignity. Reputation is one of the most important features for him because he has been struggling to achieve it during his youth. The Shakespeare’s play reveals that reputation has a vital value for all people and especially for warriors like Othello.
To be respected by the society means to be trusted and allowed to follow your own will. Othello’s roots and outlook distinguishes him from the rest of the society. This creates a precondition for the people to look contemptuously at him and to respect him less than he actually deserves. As a result the protagonist is suspected of using some magic and drugs in order to deceive Desdemona.
“What conjuration, and what mighty magic
(For such proceeding I am charged withal)
I won his daughter. ” (I, 3, 109-111)
Othello’s qualities are underestimated by the “reverend signiors” since they believe that he can not be loved by a woman, but uses immoral knacks to seduce his wife, who is actually the daughter of the Venetian senator Barbantio. People’s prejudices are strong force that affects their minds and the way Othello is perceived by them.
That is why the protagonist struggles to earn people’s respect. The only way to achieve that is to show them by his deeds that he is an honorable member of their society. Othello does that by stating facts from his youth and war experience. The sense of doing that
is to show the others that he is trustworthy and noble at least as much as them, but also to justify himself for being different. The protagonist is afraid that if his defense is not successful enough his relationship with Desdemona will be destroyed by those who don’t appreciate it.
A popular song from our everyday life states that respect comes from admiration and fear. This saying has its implementation in the drama written by Shakespeare examining the character of Othello. By proving that he is honest member of Venetia the protagonist gains the valuable and needed admiration, but this is still not enough. In order to be allowed to follow his own desires and wishes he mush be feared by the others.
”For since these arms of mine had seven years’ pith,
Till now some nine moons wasted, they have used
Their dearest action in the tented field,
And little of this great world can I speak
More than pertains to feats of {broil} and battle.”(I, 3, 98-102)

Othello successfully proves his bravery and manliness- qualities that distinguish him from the rest of aristocracy and turn him into an opponent that nobody wants to fight. The presented image of him in this episode proves that he is capable of winning Barbantio’s daughter in an honest way.
The usage of the typical for the play iambic pentameter and the presence of several metaphors in Othello’s speech make it steady and convincing. The battlefield that is mentioned serves not only as a place of protagonist’s life, but also as a symbol of heroism and strength.
Othello delivers his speech in a crucial moment for him and the whole city- he is blamed for witchery and Venetia is in time of war. In order to prove that he can be a powerful leader and loving husband the protagonist strengthens his reputation by stating why he must be respected and trusted. The passage reveals one of the most vital and crucial values in the play- reputation. The success that this speech achieves, leads to positive outcome for Othello and Desdemona, so they can continue their relationship.

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