Othello as the Victim of the Fear of Negative Interpretations in Othello

Hass portrays that people put on a constructed image for others to interpret due to a fear of negative interpretations, which create shame and insecurities and suggests that fear affects one’s actions. The negative external interpretations create shame and insecurities in oneself. Specifically, Othello has become a victim of this fear. There are certain things that the human body naturally does, but Hass portrays them as disgusting. As a result, it affects the way the narrator carries out himself in public.

Hass begins the poem with the narrator having “one of the body’s shameful and congealed lubricants gleam[ing] on your fingertip under the florescent lights“ (Hass 9). The narrator has a piece of nasal mucus on his fingertip after picking his nose, but society has regarded that action of picking one‘s nose as disgusting and frowned upon. Then, when people walk into the elevator that he’s in, he “discreetly transfers the offending article” into his pocket, instead of continuing his previous action of picking his nose.

He chooses to change the way he acts in the presence of others, for fear of being judged and negatively interpreted. The narrator calls the mucus shameful and offending, and he discreetly discards it. Because he’s worried about the negative notions associated with his actions, he modifies the way he acts in the presence of others. Even more, the use of the word discreet means that the narrator doesn’t want to draw attention to himself; he doesn’t want to be seen to be fidgeting and being seen as abnormal.

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Every little action that the narrator does has been carefully executed, due to his fear of being wrongly judged and being labeled negatively Due to societal constraints and regulations, people cannot freely express themselves and act out their true self. Society is “where we learn doubleness, and a certain practical cunning, and what a theater is, and the ability to |ie”(Hass 31).

People create another image that they present to others, so that the negative aspects of one‘s character are overshadowed by the constructed image which depicts and amplifies one’s good characteristics. Life becomes a place where we act out someone else who is not truly who we are. Modifies our thought processes so that individuals can be presented to be “normal“. On this theater of life, people act out a role on the stage for an audience, but behind the scenes, society is writing the script, changing the words that people say, altering our actions and hiding the shameful aspects. “The core of the self, we learn early, is where shame lives” (Hass 28). The reason behind changing the way one presents himself is due to shame. Society has set rules to what is acceptable and what is not. Then, people strive to accomplish what is acceptable and try to cover up the shameful things. In order to accomplish that, a constructed image for others is made. People can no longer act out their own self, but instead they play out a facade.

As demonstrated by the narrator, one is always trying to avoid the shameful things from being seen, no matter who sees it. Hass makes a point that being so self—conscious is no longer an actively made decision, but instead is done subconsciously. The narrator encounters two elderly people that he would possibly never see again in his life, yet he still chooses to cover up his shameful actions in order to escape being judged. If he chose not to cover up his noseepicking, there would not have been an impact aside from simple judgment, which would not have changed the narrator’s life whatsoever, but the narrator still chose to avoid the potential results. It becomes an infinitely regressive cycle of trying to please strangers. However, this role»p|aying is so embedded in our lives that “all must kneel to in the end” and “that no man can evade”. This process of altering and changing because of negative images has become inevitable.

It becomes so rampant and widespread that it eventually becomes indistinguishable from the “true self”, the individual without restraints The true self slowly ceases to exist, and a once pure and free self becomes tainted by the standards of society. Othello begins the story as being viewed by others to be an ignominious character. He‘s described to be a “moor”, “thick lips“, a “barbary horse”. Those adjectives are degrading and dehumanizing Othello. He is portrayed as a non—Christian (moor), his race is being used against him, and he is even compared to a horse. Yet, he deflects these negative interpretations away from himself by creating an image of being noble, respected and confident. He does this through multiple ways, he references his wife as “gentle Desdemona“, showing his courtesy, and later when presented with the potential complaints given by Brabantio, Othello responds with, “My services which I have done the signiory shall out»tongue his complaints”.

Othello presents others with an image of being calm and having composure. That quality is amplified through his word choice and definitive response: Othello specifically uses the word “shall”, instead of “could” or “potentially” or “may”. By doing so, he eliminates potential for error and for things to go wrong, boosting his authority. Even if Othello doesn’t actively and consciously strive to create these images for others, he still remains victim to this fear of negative interpretation, he attempts to blur the negative notions out by reinforcing the positive ones. By not conforming to the stereotypes brought onto him, he is trying to become an accepted member of society; he has to remain proper at all times. As soon as he breaks his character of being noble by doing things such as getting into a fight, losing his temper, or possibly even saying an insult, the preconceived negative ideas of others will overwhelm his positive aspects. He has to try even harder to play out this character of properness, and simple human emotions such as anger and lust cannot be exposed and depicted to the outer world.

Othello is well aware of these negative beliefs, he acknowledges them, and ultimately becomes a victim to society. Despite efforts to wash out stereotypes and external interpretations, he succumbs to them, and allows them to shape the way he thinks. As the book progresses, Iago suggests that Desdemona has not been faithful. When Othello thinks of potential reasons as to why, he acknowledges the negative external interpretations, and contrasts Desdemona‘s impressive characteristics of being able to sing and dance with his ”own weak merits”. He admits his own race and considers the negative stereotypes associated with them, such as being rough and uneducated. These Hass portrays that people put on a constructed image for other to interpret due to fear of negative interpretations, and suggests that fear affects one’s actions. Specifically, Othello has become a victim of this fear.

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Othello as the Victim of the Fear of Negative Interpretations in Othello. (2022, Oct 23). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/othello-as-the-victim-of-the-fear-of-negative-interpretations-in-othello/

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