Othello’s Diversity of Imagery Essay

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Othello’s Diversity of Imagery

The diverse imagery found in Shakespeare’s drama Othello represents a world all by itself. And this world of imagery contributes to the prevailing sentiment of pain and suffering and unpleasantness.

There is no shortage of imagery in the play; this is for certain. Critic Caroline Spurgeon in “Shakespeare’s Imagery and What it Tells Us” sorts through the plethora of imagery in the play:

The main image in Othello is that of animals in action, preying upon one another, mischievous, lascivious, cruel or suffering, and through these, the general sense of pain and unpleasantness is much increased and kept constantly before us. More than half the animal images in the play are
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The peculiar pain of sexual jealousy is deeply involved with the excremental aspect of the sexual organs, and the emotion in betrayal in a supremely intimate trust is involved with agonizing associations of filth and animality. (1200)

Just how strong a force is the imagery in this drama? Is it more powerful than the chorus in ancient Greek tragedy? H. S. Wilson in his book of literary criticism, On the Design of Shakespearean Tragedy, discusses the influence of the imagery of the play:

It has indeed been suggested that the logic of events in the play and of Othello’s relation to them implies Othello’s damnation, and that the implication is pressed home with particular power in the imagery. This last amounts to interpreting the suggestions of the imagery as a means of comment by the author – the analogy would be the choruses of Greek tragedy. It is true that the play contains many references to “heaven and hell and devils.” as Wilson Knight has pointed out. But Mr. Knight has wisely refrained from drawing the conclusion that Shakespeare means thus to comment upon Othello’s ultimate fate. (66)

Standing outside the senator’s home late at night, Iago uses imagery within a lie to arouse the occupant: “ Awake! what, ho, Brabantio! thieves! thieves! thieves! / Look to your house, your daughter and your bags!” When the senator appears at the window,

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