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Othello By William Shakespeare: Emotions That Lead To Tragedy

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Shakespeare’s one-of-a-kind play, “Othello” demonstrates how mixed feelings of anger, love, hatred, manipulation, and jealousy can lead to an enduring tragedy. To enhance that message with the audience, Shakespeare uses foreshadowing to create suspense to a great extent in Othello with the rising action, climax, and falling action. In “Othello”, the feeling of suspense plays an immense role in how readers perceived and are intrigued by the tragic drama of events. Although dramatic suspense is created in various ways, foreshadowing is the most common. Foreshadowing usually appears at the beginning of a story and helps the reader to amplify expectations about the upcoming events in the anecdote. With Othello, Shakespeare uses foreshadowing in all plots, which suggests he relies on the literary device to keep the play captivating.

The antagonist in ‘Othello’ is Iago, a man who manipulates every character in the play. In the rising action of the play, Iago is trying to convince Othello (his enemy) that his wife is unfaithful. Iago has to go through several schemes to make his plan work. To trick his enemy, Iago manipulates Roderigo, a man who is in love with Othello’s wife, and convinces him to fight Othello’s close friend and lieutenant, Cassio by saying he’s also in love with Desdemona. Once Roderigo said ‘yes’ Iago talks to the audience and states “Make the Moor thank me, love me, and reward me, For making him egregiously an ass And practicing upon his peace and quiet Even to madness. ‘Tis here, but yet confused: Knavery’s plain face is never seen till used”.

In this statement, Shakespeare uses foreshadowing so the audience knows that Iago is not denying to be two-faced, he wants the audience to be aware he has more schemes and plans to convince Othello his wife is having an affair. Othello and Desdemona’s speeches about love foreshadow the disaster to come; Othello’s description of his past and of his romance of Desdemona foreshadow his suicide speech; Desdemona’s “Willow” song and remarks to Emilia in Act IV, scene iii, foreshadow her death.

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In Act IV, scene iii of William Shakespeare’s Othello, Shakespeare utilizes foreshadowing by indicating the imminent death of Desdemona through the song she sings about a willow. Desdemona explains that she learned the song from her mother’s maid. She remarks, “My mother had a maid called Barbary. She was in love, and he loved proved mad and did forsake her. She sang a song of “willow”—an old thing ‘twas, but it expressed her fortune, and she died singing it.

The climax occurs at the end of Act III when Othello kneels with Iago and vows not to change course until he has achieved bloody revenge. In Act III Scene iii, of William Shakespeare’s Othello, Shakespeare depicted how the conflict reaches its height with very little solution, the protagonist has lost control of the situation. For example, Iago will make Othello think Cassio is cheating. The climactic moment of the play occurs in act III, the scene when Iago tells Othello that he has seen Cassio “wipe his beard” with Desdemona’s handkerchief. At that moment Iago finally breaks his victim. Othello says, “Now do I see ’tis true…. All my fond love thus do I blow to heaven. A turning point has been reached in the conflict: Othello’s love has turned to hate, and Desdemona’s fate has been sealed. Desdemona intercedes for Cassio, Iago persuades Othello that she is being unfaithful to him with Cassio and uses her fallen handkerchief as ‘evidence’ until Othello vows his betrayers will die. Desdemona’s failure to ‘read’ her husband is contrasted by Bianca (Cassio’s girlfriend)’s understanding that love is precarious.

At this point in the play, Othello is already convinced of Desdemona’s guilt, but Iago continues to add more “evidence,” telling Othello that Cassio has claimed to have lain with Desdemona and bidding the hapless Moor to look on while he questions Cassio about it. Othello resolves that Cassio and Desdemona should die that very night. Lodovico arrives with news from the Duke that Othello is to be recalled to Venice and Cassio left in his place. When Desdemona shows happiness at the news, Othello slaps her. His behavior shocks Lodovico. Othello then questions Emilia, but when she insists that Desdemona is Othello

He confronts Desdemona again and when she defends herself, insisting that she is his “true and loyal wife,” and “a Christian,” he becomes more and more enraged and abusive. Desdemona is highly upset and appeals to Iago for advice. He tells her that Othello is probably just upset about his work in Venice. In the turn of events, Iago plots with Roderigo to kill Cassio, and Desdemona gets ready for bed. Emilia helps Desdemona to get ready for bed. Emilia is worried about Othello’s behavior but Desdemona remains loyal to him and sings a song of ‘willow’ that she can’t get out of her head. Emilia blames men for not understanding that women have feelings just as they do and adds ‘The ills we do, their ills instruct us so’ Desdemona is asleep on her bed. Othello accuses her directly of an affair with Cassio but he doesn’t believe her when she tells him she is innocent. She pleads with him ‘O banish me, my lord, but kill me not!’ and he suffocates her.

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Othello By William Shakespeare: Emotions That Lead To Tragedy. (2021, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 22, 2023, from
“Othello By William Shakespeare: Emotions That Lead To Tragedy.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2021,
Othello By William Shakespeare: Emotions That Lead To Tragedy. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 Sept. 2023].
Othello By William Shakespeare: Emotions That Lead To Tragedy [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Sept 15 [cited 2023 Sept 22]. Available from:
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