Othello - Change of Characters


Othello's character during the play is first shown as a hero 
of war and a man of great pride and courage. The other main 
characters in the play all form their own opinions of him and as the 
play continues, his character begins to deteriorate and become less 
noble. Chronologically through the play Othello's character changes 
from a flawless military leader, to become a murderer. Also as the 
play progresses, the other characters in the play change their 
opinions of Othello which causes the plot to happen the way it did.
 Throughout the first act of the play, Othello was shown as 
many different characters depending on who was speaking. Iago 
complains of Othello's pride and "bombast circumstance" and is angered 
by the appointment of Cassio, and educated military theoretician of 
Florence to lieutenant, instead of himself. Although he knows Othello 
is a proud man, his open and trusting nature in the beginning of the 
play will be eroded by the conclusion of the plot. As Iago is 
speaking to Brabantio about Othello, he uses the term "white ewe" to 
represent Desdemona, and "black ram" when referring to Othello. By 
using these terms, it shows that he is trying to give a bad impression 
of Othello when he is speaking to the royal family in Venice, because 
Othello is a Moor or a Negro. Iago shows his black hatred for the 
Moor, and his jealousy of Cassio in his first soliloquy and also 
reveals his evil intentions. As the act continues and Othello is 
being searched for by a group of people, Iago attempts to incite 
Othello into anger against Brabantio, but Othello does not take the 
bait. He feels that he (Brabantio) may do his worst because Othello 
is assured that his military services to the government will outweigh 
Brabantio's complaints of him marrying Desdemona. These answers to 
Iago's persistence show that he is still a character of calmness and 
dignity, and he still has the self-assurance suitable to command 
armies of men. 
 When Othello is found by Cassio, he seems to be relieved 
because he does not like personal conflict, which would have occurred 
if Brabantio had found him instead. After he is found, Othello is 
taken to Brabantio where he is interrogated on how he possessed 
Desdemona enough in order to make her run off with him. Brabantio 
damns Othello and calls him an enchanter, saying that the "tender, 
fair, and happy" Desdemona was too shy of marriage, which is why she 
shunned all of the suitors sent to her. This entire scene helps to 
establish Othello as an alert and composed leader. Later in this act, 
Othello offers to explain how he won Desdemona. He chooses not to 
contradict or deny that he has used "magic" but when the true meaning 
of the "magic" comes to light it is shown that he used the magic of 
love and not a conjured magic. Iago also suspects Othello of having 
some kind of relationship with his own wife, although he doesn't know 
or even seem to care whether or not his suspicions have any foundation 
at all. Again, according to Iago, Othello is an "ass" because he has 
a "free and open nature." This act works as an introduction to the 
Othello character and shows how other characters react to his presence 
in different ways.
 The remaining acts of the play continue to show how the 
characters react to Othello's lifestyle changes. Even though he must 
rid Cassio of his lieutenant responsibilities forever, Othello 
explains how he still loves him. If it were up to him Othello would 
have reinstated Cassio at the first opportunity, but this would be bad 
political practice. He wishes to appease Desdemona by doing this but 
he realizes that he can't. These practices show that he is a good 
governor and does not wish to arouse hostilities in the city, with an 
untimely pardon of Cassio. Desdemona tells Emilia that Othello is not 
the jealous type, which Othello believes to be true himself. However, 
as the play progresses through Act 3, Othello talks to Iago telling 
him that their prior conversation gave him reason to suspect 
Desdemona's motives. As a reader, you can see that Othello's capacity 
for judgement has deteriorated up to this point, not only is his state 
of mind changing due to Iago's constant prodding, but his morals have 
also deteriorated along with his character.
 As the play winds to a close, the characters continue to show 
their own opinions on Othello. Many of the characters have changed 
their initial opinions because of Othello's obvious attitude change, 
but Iago is one of the only characters that has kept the same 
mindscape, besides Desdemona. Othello continues to disrespect 
Desdemona by acting as if she was a prostitute, Emilia was her owner, 
and he was a visiting buyer. This is blatant disrespect for his wife 
but she does not sway her love and devotion from him. She does 
however feel that she is at the lowest point she could possibly be at 
and the only way to go is up, because her lover has turned into a 
"beast." The last act of the play allows the characters to express 
their last views of Othello, and how he has affected them. The night 
where he plans on killing Desdemona is an important scene because he 
is still knowing enough to ask if she has prayed to allow her to have 
a clean soul when she dies. After hearing this question, she realizes 
what he is about to do and pleads with him asking why he is doing it. 
 Desdemona always had faith in her husband until the bitter end and 
this gave no help to her life. She died because Othello was a pawn in 
Iago's game, and she had nothing to do with it. 
 The conclusion of the play signifies the end of the 
frustration for many characters. Each of them has a different view of 
Othello's character and through the duration of the play, many of 
these ideas change, however Iago and Desdemona are the only main 
characters that do not change. They continue to have the same outlook 
upon Othello's unchanging character changes. Each character looks 
upon Othello in his/her own way and that is how much of the plot 
unravels as the play moves on.


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