Internal Conflict In Othello By William Shakespeare

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“At the heart of any tragedy lies the conflict.” It is undoubtedly true to say that this statement unquestionably applies to William Shakespeare’s Othello, where through the use of a plethora of language techniques, Othello’s internal conflict is effectively conveyed to the reader. Although Othello holds numerous tragedies, it is seen that in every one of these cases, characters fight within themselves trying to convince themselves of what is right.

Throughout the play, we see Othello having many internal conflicts within himself however probably the most significant internal conflict he experiences would be at the very end of the play, in Act 5 scene 2, the climax of the play where tragedy is most particularly highlighted. The scene begins with Othello entering the bedroom holding a candle. Othello has internal conflicts in regards to the accusations of Desdemona, his wife, sleeping with his lieutenant Cassio, which is caused by the finding of the handkerchief. The handkerchief is symbolic of Othello and Desdemona’s love and marital fidelity. Losing the handkerchief is said to make the husband unfaithful to his wife, which is why it is such an important item in the play.

Othello argues within himself about whether Desdemona really is guilty or innocent, which is seen through his first statement to himself in this scene, a soliloquy that uses repetition, “it is the cause, it is the cause, my soul”, where he tries to convince himself that he must kill Desdemona, not out of revenge or envy, but because it is simply the right thing to do to someone who commits adultery. “she must die, or else she’ll betray more men”, he assures himself.

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His conflict further intensifies when he uses the candle to construct a metaphor that foreshadows the killing of his wife. “Put out the light, and then put out the light.” - Othello makes a note of the single candle he’s brought to the bedroom - he plans to extinguish this candle, and then extinguish the light of Desdemona’s life. If he puts out the candle, it can be relit, however, if he takes Desdemona’s life, there is no way of bringing her back. Yet despite this conflict within himself, he chooses to carry out his initial plan of killing her.

Throughout the last scene, Othello is clearly almost overwhelmed by his love for his wife as he bends down to kiss her, which is seen through the soliloquy “Oh, balmy breath, that dost almost persuade Justice to break her sword!” - this is also dramatic irony. However his feelings aside, he did actually promise to kill her and love her afterward, so he goes through with that promise. It is then evident that Othello’s only sin was loving Desdemona, who died honorably and defended Othello to the very end.

Through these internal conflicts, we are able to learn more about the characters. With Othello, we learn that he can become very jealous and persuaded easily. We also find that Desdemona is emotional and loves Othello even after he treated her badly. These internal conflicts are at the root of the external conflicts of the play. In conclusion, it can be clearly seen that no matter how big of a tragedy there is, conflict always lies at the heart of it.

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Internal Conflict In Othello By William Shakespeare. (2021, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 24, 2024, from
“Internal Conflict In Othello By William Shakespeare.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2021,
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Internal Conflict In Othello By William Shakespeare [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Sept 15 [cited 2024 Apr 24]. Available from:

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