Themes in Othello

995 words 4 pages
Themes in Shakespeare's Othello
Throughout Shakespeare's play, Othello, there are many themes interwoven to describe the author's perspective of the true nature of a man's soul. Three themes critical to the play are doubt versus trust, monstrous imagery and the fallible love of man.
One central theme of the play is the major contrast of doubt versus trust. For whatever reason, Othello's trust of Desdemona is too weak to resist Iago's accusations. As happens in many of Shakespeare's works, miscommunication and mistrust lead to "prepost'rous conclusions" (1. 3. 323).
Othello's heart tells him that Desdemona loves him; however the critical Iago can dismantle Othello's trust in his wife by planting seeds doubt through what appears to
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3. 382-83). This clearly establishes a tie between the satanic and the monstrous; like Satan at the core of darkness, Iago will help bring about a monstrous birth. By Act 4, Othello describes to Desdemona that the fountain of his being, his heart, is now no better than a "cistern for foul toads to knot and gender in" (4. 2. 63-64). Othello's own heart having become corrupt is now no more than black areas of repulsion and disgust at physical love and of monstrous fantasies about women.
An addition theme in the play is mans distorted view of love. Roderigo in Act 2 describes Desdemona as "full of most blest condition" (2. 1. 247), and the idea of an affair with Cassio as impossible. Yet the men easily accept Desdemona's supposed adultery. Brabantio, Desdemona's father, changes from protective love for his pure Desdemona—"of spirit so still and quiet, that her motion blush'd at her self" (1. 3. 98-99)—to utter revulsion from her assertiveness revealed by her elopement—"I had rather to adopt a child than get it" (1. 3. 194).
Iago attempts to identify with the others' proclaimed (albeit fickle) love for Desdemona—"now I do love her too" (2. 1. 267), although this love is immediately contradicted with intentions of lust and revenge. The war between his supposed love for Desdemona and his desire to destroy Othello drives him to resolve the conflict by turning her virtue "into pitch" (2.3.313). Othello's internal


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