Othello by william shakespeare is a tragedy thought to have been written in the 1600s, and is undoubtedly one of shakespeare’s most celebrated pieces of work. The play deals with many themes such as jealousy and deception, and good and evil, all of which are centered around the tragic hero O. Throughout the play it has been discovered how Othello,a black man, has overcome the racist views of others living in that time period, and married the beautiful white woman Desdemona, and also risen up in the ranks and been made a captain. Iago, puppet master, jealous of Othello and Desdemona, also of a man called Cassios promotion over him. It is iago who conjures up a plan to deceive, mislead and ultimately destroy O.
Act III Scene III is where Iago’s plan really begins. This scene has been known as the “turning point” of the play, or as the “temptation scene”, and could be argued to be the most important scene in the whole play. In it Iago speaks carefully and at length with Othello, and subtly plant the seed of suspicion and jealousy in his mind. It is this seed which brings about the tragic events of the play.
Ironically it is Desdemona’s compassion and innocence which bring about these events as she attempts to have Cassio reinstated to his previous position as Captain. The scene opens with D telling C she will do all she can to influence her husband in reconciling with him.
“Ill intermingle every thing he does With Cassio’s suit.”
Desdemona shows great determination and a kind heart in fighting for Cassio. Ironically it this kind heartedness that brings about her downfall and her death. It is her persistence that fuels Othello’s jealousy, filling his head with thoughts of her love for Cassio. It is known how strong Othello’s love for D is and that he cares for her more than his own life, however, this then amplifies Othello’s jealousy causing such tragic consequences.
After Desdemona talks with Cassio, Emelia see’s O and I approach. Cassio, feeling uncomfortable since his dispute and demotion by Othello scurries off. iago make most of this not wishing to miss an opportunity to contribute to his plan.
“Ha! I think I like not that.”
Here Iago acts as an honest witness, however he subtly begins to taint Desdemona’s infidelity. By saying this ,he implies that C has some sort of respectful significance, thus planting the seed of suspicion in Othello’s mind.
As the scene progresses, and Othellos curiosity grows, as he see’s nothing amiss, Iago makes a show of not wanting to speak of it or of C. All the while, he insinuates that Cassio wasn’t just leaving, but was “stealing away so guilty like”. These words are the most incriminating thing he could say referring to C. They reintroduce these feeling of suspicion into Othello’s subconscious. His mood of uneasiness and secretness unsettles O, causing him to wonder about his loyalty and honour towards his wife. This is compounded when D enters pleading for C’s old position. As Othello’s suspicion grows so does his patience. He loses his more poetic style of speaking in Iambic pentameter and off hand remarks become more prominent.
After much talk of Cassio, Desdemona exits the scene. It is then that Othello is left alone with Iago. He then chides himself for being irritated with his wife.
“Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my soul, But I do love thee! and when I love thee not, Chaos is come again!”
Despite, showing O’s deep and passionate love for D, with him speaking of how the princibal of human nature would be gone without her there is an element of prophecy present also. Perdition will eventually catch O’s soul, and chaos will consume his life.
As the scene continues, Iago manipulates O even further. He is a skilled liar and manages to present himself still as an entirely innocent character, convincing O of the affair without directly referring to it. he appears to be hesitant and reluctant to tell Othello this false secret. He begins to poison O’s mind with O continuously referring to him as “honest Iago”. What he is in fact doing is making O believe that iago’s honour is at stake if he confesses his fears. At first he only speaks the word “jealousy” aloud, thus, fixing it in Os imagination. He then uses “green eye’d monster”. He proceeds to say that Othello has already before betrayed her own flesh and blood in marrying him against her fathers will, and that she could naturally do it again.
After the two men say their farewells and depart, Othello speaks in a soliloquy, and his use of imagery emphasizes the appalling change in his character. Othello is only certain of one thing, and that is the “exceeding honesty” of Iago. Convulsed with introspection, he curses his black skin and social graces.
Othello’s mental agony approaches its climax as we approach the real turning point of the drama. Othello’s mind is torn between Desdemona’s alleged infidelity and his own unworthiness, and he compares himself to vile animals.
“I’d rather be a toad
and live on the vapour of a dungeon.”
Othello is ravaged by self loathing, with his pride in himself and in d’s love for him destroyed. Hours ago, he was filled with the spirit of a young groom; now he is reduced to ignominy. His soul and heart are torn, hating himself, and his own self worth.
Later, it can be seen just how changed O is. Early in the drama, Othello was seen to be a very poetic speaker. He spoke fluently and mainly in Iambic Pentameter. As Iago lies to him about Cassio calling out D’s name in his sleep and him how he seen with his own eyes cassio wiping his beard with d’s cherished handkerchief, Othello proves himself to be sufficiently mad.
“All my love thus do I blow to heaven.
Othello here declares any love he had for his wife, now destroyed. This contrasts massively with the noble Moor from the star of the play, whose deep love for his wife was most evident. Now he denies any emotion for her but loathing and hate, later saying he wants nothing but revenge on his wife and her false lover. Thinking only “bloody thoughts”, comparing them to the sea’s compulsive current, one which never ebbs but only keeps on going until it reaches its destination. In this simile, Othello stresses his high status, as expected from a tragic hero, identifying himself with large and mighty elements of nature. Equally important, the simile makes clear the absoluteness of o’s character. There is no going back for him, and his revenge is guaranteed.He solemnly vows to execute “a capable and wide revenge”, and then kneels.
Othello speaks as though he see’s himself as the rightful scourge of evil, as executing the public justice rather than his own personal revenge. Iago bids Othello not to stand, and kneels next to him, dedicating himself to Othello’s service. To prove I’s loyalty O orders Iago to see that C is dead within three days. One cannot imagine more welcome words to Iago, after the strong jealousy he has felt against Cassio for so long. This was one of the reasons he chose to manipulate Othello. Othello states he will kill Desdemona himself. He then tragically proclaims:
“I am your own for ever.”
By the end of Act III Scene III, Iago has managed to secure dominance over Othello. Reversing the roles of master and servant. Othello’s soul is so hopelessly lost in Iago’s web of treachery, he has proclaimed Iago lieutenant and has also pledged to stay loyal to his ‘partner’. Iago, through his lies and manipulation has managed to change Othello completely. Turning him from good to evil in a matter of hours. Thus, making scene a key turning point in “Othello”.