Ambiguity, Inconsistency and Uncertainty in Othello Essay example

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Ambiguity, Inconsistency and Uncertainty in Othello The Bard of Avon has in his tragedy Othello a true masterpiece, but not one without flaws. It contains blemishes, imperfections, and minor negative features which detract in lesser ways from the overall evaluation of the play. H. S. Wilson in his book of literary criticism, On the Design of Shakespearean Tragedy, addresses the arbitrariness and inconsistency in the play: Though the action moves in a single line, with none of the intricate interweaving of parallels displayed in Hamlet, the emotional pattern has, as it were, two poles of concentration: mounting horror at the insatiable malice of Iago, pity for the suffering helplessness of his victims. These effects are…show more content…
Devil! [Strikes her.] DESDEMONA. I have not deserved this. LODOVICO. My lord, this would not be believed in Venice, Though I should swear I saw’t. ‘Tis very much. Make her amends; she weeps. (4.1) Is this violent action not out of place – and just plain impossible at this point? No crime by the lady would be deserving of public beating, especially in the presence of a visiting dignitary. The incident feels unnatural and out of place. It presents the general as an inconsistent character, unable to control his feelings at this time even though he has a hundred previous times controlled his feelings in exemplary fashion, in the manner of a general. In her book, Everybody’s Shakespeare: Reflections Chiefly on the Tragedies, Maynard Mack comments on the impropriety of the general’s treatment: Here time present, in which Desdemona speaks and sings, and time future, in which we know she (like Barbary) is to die from an absolute fidelity to her intuition of what love is and means, recede even as we watch into a lost time past, when Desdemona had a mother and all love’s agonies and complexities could be comprehended in a song. A song moreover, bringing to her consciousness the sheltered world in which she grew up, now balanced beside the world she chose. In that other world, her husband might have been a Venetian gentleman, someone like

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