Interpretation of Speeches in Othello Act 1 Scene 3

This sample essay on Othello Act 1 Scene 3 provides important aspects of the issue and arguments for and against as well as the needed facts. Read on this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.

From just one set of words many different interpretations can be made, whether you look at it contextually or whether you look at those words in a different mood. Every different person will come up with a different interpretation, just as Burge, Nunn and Miller have done and produced film versions of Othello, playing particular interest in the way they direct this scene.

Language always has a hidden meaning, especially in Shakespeare and one word can be interpreted in many different ways. Othello is a military man, of high status in society, although he is black.

His social status and his want, in my opinion, to know as much as he can and his pride makes him a perfect character for a Shakespearian tragedy. So from the very beginning of the play it is apparent that Othello is the hero in this play and that in some way he is going to be manipulated by someone and slowly deteriorate.

We can assume this from the beginning as from each interpretation I have seen the music at the beginning is of a deep done, usually of bells chiming, almost like the sound of death. However Iago is the manipulative, sly man who we know is going to be there be because this is a Shakespearian play.

Techniques Used In Othello

He is clearly jealous of Othello and believes he should be in a better position than he is because of the line, “know my price”.

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He is a very persuasive man, which we see a great deal of in his speech, “put money in they purse” Iago is constantly telling people what to do then making up reasons why to persuade them. Also literary techniques are used to try and persuade people too, such as the power of three. “Put money in they purse” is repeated three times, stressing its importance, almost persuading the reader to believe him.

This is also an example of dramatic irony as the audience know what kind of a man Iago is by him secretive motives, such as the line, “monstrous birth to the world’s light”. Suggesting he wants to complete his ideas and make them work. My interpretation of Othello’s speech is that he is very confident and sure of himself, as the language used is persuasive and not weak meaningless words. It is almost like it is a rehearsed speech as every pause and every line seems to be perfectly considered. Because of this I believe it makes Othello look very arrogant and sound like he doesn’t care for Desdemona, the only care he has it that he has won her.

If you were sincerely sorry you would say so, not the line, “her father loved me, oft invited me”, which suggests that this is all Brabantio’s fault. This line in particular suggests to me that Othello is quite an arrogant man, so sure of himself that there is nothing wrong with what he has done. Iago’s speech suggests to different things in my opinion; when he is talking to other people he is very manipulative and persuasive in getting what he wants. To do this he uses emotive language and rhetorical questions such as, “Drown Thyself? This is a technique used to persuade and encourage a person to think and agree with you, which shows quite a sly manner. However when he is on his own he shows a deeply concentrating person, who is thinking about their deepest darkest thoughts. With words such as “hell” and “monstrous” and “hate” suggests very strong feelings of anger and in my opinion shows evil. Also rhetorical questions to himself such as, “how? How? ” Show how he is questioning himself and his motives, but he I believe is questioning himself to assure himself he is powerful enough to do such things.

As a director Burge I believe tried to show you both speeches as symbols of power. Othello was portrayed standing tall, in the middle of a circle with a slow pace of talking to show the power he has. His speech is controlled, he shows no emotion and he laughs occasionally. I believe this is to show how arrogant Othello is and how he appears to not care at all for Desdemona, as he is not trying in any way to please Brabantio, he laughs as him! Also symbolically he looks up when talking about battles he has fought, almost as if he has a link with the heavens because he has done this, and the line “hills whose heads touch heaven”.

The description of the mountain is personified possibly to mean that this is a description of him, again showing how much power he has as a mountain is a breathtaking view! Burge here has also made Othello look more important by making Brabantio and the senators look stupid because there is a sense of irony from Othello when witchcraft is mentioned, he laughs! This undermines Brabantio and shows clearly the strong mind of Othello at this point in the play. Burge shows Iago as overpowering as he has a very loud tone of voice, he is very persuasive.

The camera angle used is close up on his carefully showing his facial expressions and his sly smile which is almost permanently on his face. However there is again this shift of behaviour between when he is on his own and when he is with others, because as soon as he is on his own, his movements become twitchier, almost like he doesn’t like the depth at which he is thinking at. He argues with himself as well which suggests he doesn’t like what he is doing, “I have’t” this is him just justifying himself to himself!

The close camera angle shows the real hatred in his eyes when he says, “I hate the moor” which really emphasises this idea of hatred and the balance of power. Finally there is a sense of dramatic irony because as the audience we know something is going to go wrong so by him thinking about his motives this is a sense of dramatic irony. “Cassio’s a proper man” This is ironic as the audience know what Iago thinks of Cassio, however he says this n a way that implies that it is going to be different to harm the reputation of Cassio, almost as if Cassio presents a problem.

Nunn’s version shows a totally different side to Othello but a similar view on Iago. Othello is portrayed as a loyal, kind man who has social status and responsibility. He has a deep military voice and stands up to address the senators in a military way. “Potent, grave” shows how seriously he is taking the allegations very seriously and his facial expressions show how upset Othello is that people think he has hurt Desdemona. He reflects on what Brabantio used to think of him and leans over the table where the senators are to draw them in. Nunn does this again to show the power Othello has.

Nunn shows Iago to be overpowering again by giving him a brawn voice. But when he is in his soliloquy he is fidgeting and breathing heavily, to add to this atmosphere how he sits at the table causes a shadow to fall over his face showing this kind of evil vs. reality idea. His true thoughts are so strong he is unable to sit still and this difference is shown clearly through the use of movement. This use of separation in the soliloquy is a dramatic technique to show the reader the true motives of Iago and the way he thinks. This was very effectively done by the twitching during his soliloquy.

Miller takes a very different approach to these scenes, a very comical one. Othello and Iago are shown as the best of friends, helping each other and talking to each other not about each other. Miller presents Othello as a man who isn’t concerned about the thoughts of others and a proud man who cares for Desdemona. He shows this because Othello talks calmly and from experience, almost like his just telling his story, which shows confidence. He smiles when he talks about Desdemona and is unafraid of what people think of him, which suggests a genuine man.

Iago has a cockney accent making up perhaps for the fact that he is seen to be more equal to Othello, the cockney accent suggests, especially when in contrast to Roderigo, that he has less social status. This is a different way of showing that Iago is of less importance to Othello. There is a lot of emphasis on the questions he asks people, such as, “Thou art sure of me? ” This question shows just how persuasive Iago can be. This a technique used to manipulating people. The way that Miller has Iago laugh in an evil way when he talks alone about Roderigo is a good way of showing how Iago is a darker character in the play.

He doesn’t care how he hurts the more he just wants to. In conclusion all of these interpretations use different dramatic techniques to convey a meaning, which is the difference between the characters of Othello and Iago. Each director plays each character differently and therefore shows a different interpretation to the statuses of these men in the play. All the techniques used are for film use and therefore may be harder to do if acted on stage, but through the use of emphasis on key language it is also possible to convey different meanings using this technique.

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