Othello Essay Dramatic Irony

Dramatic Irony in Othello

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Dramatic irony plays a large role in Othello; it is most prominent in Iago’s lines. It is specifically seen when Iago outright lies to characters, when he misrepresents his personality to other people, and when other characters talk about Iago in a way he is not. Iago constantly tells other characters slight untruths or outright lies. His constant use of lying puts the audience on edge because they always know when he has lied. One of his major lies is when he tells Othello that his wife, Desdemona, is having an affair.

His proof of this is a handkerchief of Desdemona’s he “found in another man’s room”. He tells Othello “I know not that; but such a handkerchief– / I am sure it was your wife’s–did I to-day / See Cassio wipe his beard with” (Act 3 Scene 3 Ln 438-440). Because the audience knows that Iago planted the handkerchief they are anxious to see how Othello will react to this lie. In a similar vein, Iago tells Othello about Desdemona’s “affair” and then states that “[He] hope[s][Othello] will consider what is spoke / Comes from [his] love” (Act 3 Scene 3 Ln 217-218).

The audience know that this is completely ridiculous, because Desdemona is not having an affair and because Iago hates Othello. Both of these are examples of Iago telling outright lies and the audience waiting in suspense to see if Othello will fall for them. Dramatic irony can also be seen when Iago misrepresents his personality to other characters. For instance Iago tells Othello, “My lord, you know I love you” (Act 3 Scene 3 Ln 118). However the audience knows that this is completely untrue; Iago hates Othello with his “free and open nature” (Act 1, Scene 3, ln 12).

They are then left in complete suspense as to what Othello’s reaction to this lie will be and how it will affect the rest of the play. Another example of this would be when Iago says, “O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; / It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock / The meat it feeds on; that cuckold lives in bliss / Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger; / But, O, what damned minutes tells he o’er” (Act 3 Scene 3 Ln 167). In this quote Iago gives advice he does not believe in, and the audience knows he does not believe it; thus it is a perfect example of dramatic irony.

These two examples show how Iago has no remorse in lying to other characters. The audience is, then, left in suspense as to how much of these lies other characters will accept as the truth. The third type of dramatic irony involving Iago is when other characters talk about him in a way he is not. For example, Desdemona is one of many characters to refer to Iago as “an honest fellow” and she goes on to tell Cassio to “Do not doubt [him]” (Act 3 Scene 3 Ln 5). As the audience is well aware, Iago is anything but honest.

Earlier in the play Emilia tells Desdemona that she “warrant it grieves my husband, / As if the case were his. ” (Act 3 Scene 3 Ln 4) when talking about Cassio’s being fired. As with the last line referring to Iago, the audience knows that the other characters’ perception of Iago is completely untrue. Most of the the dramatic irony in Othello is from characters misjudging Iago and his intentions. This causes suspense for the audience because they know Iago wants the downfall of all others.

Author: Brandon Johnson

in Othello

Dramatic Irony in Othello

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The Irony of William Shakespeare's Othello Essay

1428 Words6 Pages

The Irony of William Shakespeare's Othello

Irony plays a great role in ?The Tragedy of Othello?. The villain, Iago, plans from the very beginning of the play to ruin Othello?s life. All the major characters in the play believe that Iago is an honest and trustworthy person. The tragic irony is that Iago fools them all. Throughout the whole play Iago manipulates the people around him and lies to them. Iago is very distressed, because Michael Cassio was promoted to Othello?s lieutenant instead of himself. This is Iago?s main reason for revenge against Othello. Iago?s plan is to manipulate Cassio and Desdemona, so that it would appear that they are having an affair; which would break Othello?s heart. Iago does succeed in his plan,…show more content…

Montano tells Iago that Othello ?prizes the virtue that appears in Cassio and looks not on his evils?(2. 3. 121-122). This means that Othello trusts Cassio and does not doubt him. This is ironic, because later on in the play Othello believes that Cassio is having and affair with Desdemona. Othello begins to doubt in Cassio?s loyalty to him. Another example of situational irony is in Act III Scene III. In this scene Othello is telling Iago that he is not a jealous man: ?Think?st thou I?ld make a life of jealousy? To follow still the changes of the moon with fresh suspicions??(3. 3. 177-179). Othello also tells Iago that he trusts Desdemona: ?Nor from mine own weak merits will I draw the smallest fear or doubt of her revolt,??(3. 3. 187-188). This is ironic, because later on in the play Othello does doubt Desdemona; Othello does become a jealous man, full of distrust and fear. Here is an example of Othello becoming suspicious of Desdemona; ?This argues fruitfulness and liberal heart. Hot, hot, and moist. This hand of your requires a sequester from liberty, fasting and prayer, much castigation, exercise devout; for here?s a young and sweating devil here that commonly rebels?(3. 4. 34-39). These are a few examples of situational irony in ?The Tragedy of Othello?.

Verbal irony is when there is a ?contrast between the literal meaning of what is said and what is meant?(Literary Terms, e-text). There are various cases of

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