Posted in Literary Analysis

A Broken Sense of Identity: Part 2 Iago

Iago is a character at once simple and complex, he has a clear objective to destroy the Moor but no clear motive, he has a set identity and yet a malleable one; he is made all the more fascinating for this reality. Unlike Othello, Iago’s identity is not one built up around the constructs of society, it is entirely one of his own making. Iago is a man unpleased with his identity but not without one. He knows who he is and as such needs no push or motivation to take action. There are those he believes below him, who have made their way above him and he wishes to bring them chaos and so he does. Wood describes, “Iago’s perception of himself in relations to others” his fear that others think Othello slept with his wife, how Cassio’s beauty makes him ugly, Iago perceives his identity by comparing it to the identity of others (Wood). Othello and Cassio have set public identities, that give them power and respect, but also constrain them with their demands of behavior. Despite this, Iago wishes to possess such an identity. Continue reading “A Broken Sense of Identity: Part 2 Iago”

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Posted in Literary Analysis

A Broken Sense of Identity: Part 1 Othello

Ones comprehension of their personal self is crucial to their confidence, to their psyche, and their interpretation of reality. A sense of identity is how one defines themselves, and when ones identify is put into question, the results can be disastrous. Without a clear sense of self, one lacks a filter with which to comprehend and distinguish reality. In William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Othello, identity is a key theme and a large motivator of action. Othello is the tale of a Moor who marries a white women and because of the machinations of his ensign, Iago, Othello succumbs to jealousy and ultimately tragedy, but more than that, it is the tale of the outsider, of a desperate search to fit within the confines of society, not just that of a black man, but of faulty, imperfect humans. Each of the three main male characters Othello, Iago and Cassio, struggle with their own personal sense and reality of identity, and it’s what motivates and defines their decisions throughout the play. In a world of societal norms, expectations, and pressures, the role of identity is extraordinary.

Continue reading “A Broken Sense of Identity: Part 1 Othello”

Posted in Literary Analysis

A Weakness of Character

In William Shakespeare’s Othello, Iago is able to get the other characters to dance to his tune with clever manipulation and an ability to improvise upon the opportunities that arise before him. His actions lead Othello to doubt his wife’s faithfulness and ultimately kill her, before killing himself when he realizes the mistake he has fallen prey to. Iago’s machinations are so effective because he plays on Othello’s insecurities and character weaknesses. The conductor of Othello’s downfall is without a doubt Iago, but he is manipulated and deceived because of his own flaws. When warned of Brabanzio’s anger at Othello having eloped with his daughter, Othello responds, “Let him do his spite:/ My services which I have done the signory/ Shall out-tongue his complaints” (1.2.17-19). This is a man supremely confident in his professional role, in his role as a military power and leader, and his place in society, as such. He knows his role and his value; however, as an outsider he struggles to find his place in a more personal setting. Continue reading “A Weakness of Character”

Posted in Book Review

Complex Cliches: A Review of Othello

Othello, a Moor trapped in Venetian society, a respect member and yet an outsider, unable to full bridge that gap. A women who see beyond skin and society a marries Othello anyway. A passed over underling, desperate for a promotion and sans it, desperate for revenge. Temptation, lust, jealous and revenge. The full range of human emotion. Characters who fulfill tropes and yet are flawed and real.

Continue reading “Complex Cliches: A Review of Othello”

Posted in Literary Analysis

“Disguise, I see thou art a wickedness”

Viola, the plucky heroine of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, is much distraught to learn Olivia, the lady of a great house and the object of Viola’s masters love, has fallen in love with Viole, disguised as man by the name of Cesario. Viola, as Cesario, has found employment in the house of Duke Orsino, who trusting her greatly has sent her as an intermediary to win the love of Lady Olivia, who rejects his every advance. Things are further complicated for the stranded Viola by her own love for Orsino, who thinks her a man. This speech does a marvelous job of summarizing the plot as it stands while interweaving the complexity of Viola’s emotions and fear with her unwavering optimism. She comments on the deceitful and unfortunate nature of disguise as it sways Olivia to love her, whom Olivia can never have, and as it separates Viola from Orsino who will never have her, since she is portrayed as a man.

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This play deals heavily with the idea of mistaken identity and the power of disguise. In this play, disguise is both “a wickedness” and a door for Viola (2.2.26). Disguise separates her from the one she loves but it brought her into Orsino’s life. It makes her the object of a lady’s love, but it keeps Olivia from falling for the Duke. Disguise opens up possibilities for Viola, allowing her to do, be, and see things she otherwise never would have. It takes her to a place where she has agency and more choice before her then ever before, and yet it separates her from Orsino and firmly closes that door. Disguise becomes a double edge sword of opportunity and confinement. Illusion allows her freedom but traps her in lies and ultimately blocks her from what she most desires.

Shakespeare uses powerful imagery in the line where Viola comments, “How easy is it for the proper false/ In women’s waxen hearts to set their forms” (2.2.28-29). Similar imagery was seen in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and it effectively portrays an image of a heart too keen to love, so soft as impossible not to take the form of another into it. This line gives us this idea of women with their flighty hearts and too easily swayed emotions, and yet we are presented with a contrast in words to actions. As Violas comments on “women’s waxen hearts,” she holds true and fast to her love for Orsino, and as the play wraps up, Orsino easily abandons his love for Olivia, despite claims to its steadfastness when presented with the possible option of Viola. This line puts into question what truly makes love, and if it’s quick to form does that make it weaker or stronger than love that is slow to set and mold? The reader never receives a set answer, but he or she is unable not to ponder whether “waxen hearts” don’t prove to be true.

This speech reveals to us a character of great strength and optimism. Viola states, “O time, thou must untangle this, not I./ It is too hard a knot for me t’untie” (2.2.39-40). This shows a character with confidence in time and more importantly with the power of plot to resolve and bring resolution to the issues it ultimately creates. Viola is stranded in an unknown land dressed as a man, with the lady, her master is in love with, setting her heart to Viola, and yet she brushes it off, confident that the procession of time with untangle the rope she has caught herself in. Nowhere is the true character of Viola shown more: her steadfast loyalty, and unwavering devotion and optimism in the face of adversity. With her words, Viola is secured in our hearts as a force of revitalization and hope.

 


Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. Twelfth Night. The Norton Shakespeare. 3rd ed., W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2016.

Posted in 4 star, Book Review

Optimisim Leads to Greatness: A Review of Twelfth Night

Viola washes up on shore, and decided the clear course of action is to disguise herself as a man and join the court of the eligible bachelor Duke Orsino, who has set his heart on the grief-striken Olivia, who basically hates Orsino. But that’s fine cause she has a thing for Cesario th handosme page Orsino sent to woo her in his steady, only Cesario is Viola, and she kind has a thing for Orsino. So I am sure no confusion or mistakes will take place. A plot basically built for humor, Twelfth Night is full of delightful scenes paired with supringly dark realities and musings. Which of course endears it too me greatly.

Continue reading “Optimisim Leads to Greatness: A Review of Twelfth Night”

Posted in Literary Analysis

A King of Individuality and State

William Shakespeare in his historical play Henry IV Part 1 is able to capture many of the prevailing ideals and qualities connected to the King and monarchies, not only from the time of Henry the IV’s rule but Shakespeare’s own time as well.

In act 3, scene 2 Prince Harry faces his father after years of immoral behavior, and we are given an artfully crafted speech about the expectations of royalty. The King says to his son, “Harry,/At thy affections, which do hold a wing/Quite from the flight of all thy ancestors” (3.2.29-31). In this line the King is claiming that Harry is not living up to the role laid before him by his predecessors, that his actions are not that of a King, as defined by those who came before him. His way of life is not living up to the expectations placed upon him; he is instead following a path contrary to the one imposed upon him. Continue reading “A King of Individuality and State”

Posted in Literary Analysis

A Shattered Confidence in Man

In William Shakespeare’ s Hamlet, the prince of Denmark’s whole world is broken by the death of his father, this event proves to be a reassurance of mortality and the frailty of others characters, as he learns of his uncle’s role in his father’s murder. His mother’s hasty marriage to his Uncle Claudius also shatters Hamlet’s confidence in man as a being of reason. As a scholar, Hamlet was taught of the reason of man, of man’s great ability to think and comprehend, that there is nothing man cannot accomplish with his vast intellect and determination. Continue reading “A Shattered Confidence in Man”

Posted in Literary Analysis

“What is honour?”

Falstaff, a comedic character from Shakespeare’s historical play, Henry IV Part 1, is a complicated character who can prove to be just as sympathetic and relatable, as he is despicable and amoral. In act 5 of the play, Prince Henry tells Falstaff he owes God his life in death as Hal runs off into battle to defend his father’s lands from the revolt of Hotspur and others who support him. These words set off a bit of a philosophical debate for Falstaff. In his speech, he contemplates the merit of honor, using metaphor to comment on its lack of skill as a surgeon, and how honor will do little to protect one’s life and as such holds little worth.

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