How does Shakespeare make Act 5 Scene 2 of Othello Dramatic?

William Shakespeare wrote many plays in the late 16th and early 17th century. During this period he wrote the play Othello. This period, in which Shakespeare wrote many of his plays, was Elizabethan England.

At this time England was a horrible place to live. The vast majority of the population of London were white which made Elizabethan England into a very racist society with the majority of the population thinking themselves as the superior race. In the play Othello, Othello is a black man whereas Iago is a white man.Shakespeare may have used this as part of the reason for why Iago manipulated Othello throughout the play, showing Iago as an extreme racist.

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However, if the play had really been set in Venice, this would not have been a problem as Venice, at the time, was a very important trading link and therefore had many different races living within the city. This suggests that Shakespeare had not visited Venice before he wrote this play. When Shakespeare incorporates racism into the play it dramatises the performance as the Elizabethan audiences would have been racist.Racism could be the first cause or the only cause of what Iago does to him but Othello’s death is made even more tragic as Iago refuses to tell him why he has done these things.

“Demand that demi-devil why he hath thus ensnared my soul and body? ” Iago then replies by saying that he will never tell anyone. “From this day forth I will never speak a word. ” This is a key point in act 5 scene 2 as it creates huge suspense and dramatic tension with Othello not knowing why Iago did these things to him and it is the one thing he wants to know before he dies.The quotation is ironic in the sense that throughout the play Iago has been manipulating Othello whilst pretending to be his friend.

Where Othello asks Iago “why he hath ensnared my soul and body? ” I see him almost begging to be told by Iago why he has done these things. Alternatively he could not be directing his comment at Iago as he does refer to Iago as the “demi-devil. ” He could be saying this due to his absolute hate and disbelief of what he has done to him as the devil is normally referred to as the height of pure evil.Othello uses the devil as a metaphor for the bad the Iago has done to him and comparing Iago to the devil really show his hate and disbelief of his doing.

Othello then kills his wife due to what Iago has been telling him and because he trusts Iago. It is only in act 5 scene 2 that Othello realises that he has been set up throughout the play and wants to know why. Iago may not want to tell him due to the fact that he just wants to see him die in the pain of not knowing why he betrayed him like that.Even though the play would have been performed in, and was written in, a very racist society, Shakespeare has Othello, his main character and hero, as a black man.

I think he may have done this to show the corruption and pain that racism causes. He would have done this through Iago. However, he may have just been trying to show that there should be equality between the two races by having the main character and hero as a black man while the people who are less important like Iago, for example, are white.This is the reverse of Elizabethan society and could show that Shakespeare did indeed visit Venice, the setting for the play, before he wrote it.

By reversing the black and white roles in the play, compared to real life, Shakespeare is making a moral judgement on his audience. When Shakespeare wrote the play Othello there were two main genres, both were different but both were popular tragic and dramatic genres at the time. The first of these is Aristotelian and Neo Classical Tragedy. In the play, Shakespeare uses partly this genre and other parts of the play came from the genre of Elizabethan and Jacobean Revenge Tragedy.

This was a very popular tragedy with writers like Webster, Middleton and Fletcher all using this genre and they became famous for it. Shakespeare managed to mix and match these two completely different genres to create one of his own that fitted the story line. He was not a traditional writer in the sense that he did not go with the flow, as we can see by how he mixed the two different genres of the time, creating one standalone genre that is different from the rest. This may have been part of why Shakespeare was so successful.

The parts from each original genre are as follows and I can see from the play that he uses them. I can see that there is a tragic flaw in a couple of the characters. Definitely Othello with his jealousy towards Casio but also there may have been a tragic flaw in Iago in that he is a racist and this led him to his exploitation of Othello’s tragic flaw. When Iago tells Othello of Desdemona’s infidelity he becomes very angry towards both Casio and Desdemona and this leads him to wanting the death of Casio and Desdemona, his wife.

Shakespeare then links this part of the genre of Aristotelian and Neo Classical Tragedy to a part of the genre Elizabethan and Jacobean revenge tragedy where he chose part of the genre that includes a quest for revenge and results in a blood thirsty final scene with many of the main characters dying. This is a common thing with Shakespeare as in Romeo and Juliet, both of the heroes in the play die at the end resulting dramatised irony that leaves the mind to wonder about ‘what if’.Another way that Shakespeare uses the genre of Aristotelian and Neo Classical Tragedy is that in the play there is a reversal of circumstances, due to the quest for revenge and severe jealousy and trust that Othello has. The reversal of the circumstances is that at the beginning of the play, Othello is the army general, the big man, but at the end of the play, due to his wrong doings, he becomes worthless and everybody looks down on him as if he were nothing.

In the play Macbeth, Shakespeare’s main character, Macbeth, is influenced by the other characters in the play for example: Lady Macbeth and the witches, just as Othello is manipulated and influenced by Iago. These tragic flaws of the characters, in both plays, leads them to believing what they are told and acting impulsively on false information. This is a common trait in Shakespeare’s work. In both cases the weakness of the characters led them to their downfalls and they lost everything- a fallen hero.

During act 5 scene 2 there is a lot of dramatic irony being portrayed in many different situations. For example there is where Othello realises what has been happening to him throughout the play, and sees where his life all went wrong; there is where Othello is being told by Desdemona that she has done nothing to hurt him in anyway but he still went ahead and killed her. Had this event taken place in the real Venice as opposed to Shakespeare’s idea of Venice, then what Iago has told Othello about Desdemona would have been taken in his stride and life would go on.Due to Othello being a very jealous man which suggests that Iago thought that he would be an easy target and when he told him his made-up news of the betrayal he new that he would react in this way.

I think when Othello realised that he killed Desdemona for no reason, other than what he had been told by Iago, he thinks that his life is no longer worth living as he says “for in my sense, ’tis happiness to die”. This shows to me that Othello knows what he has done and the irony hits him hard as it was his best friend, Iago, who has betrayed him in the worst possible way because it has led Othello to kill his own innocent wife.Act 5 scene 2 is what could be described as where the results of Othello and Iago’s interactions throughout the play, occur. The dramatic tension and dramatic irony are both big parts of this scene.

The whole scene takes place within the walls of Desdemona and Othello’s bed chamber adding to the drama, Othello killing his lover in the bed that they loved in. Othello could do this for a reason as he thinks that Casio has been in his bed, with his wife, therefore he may se that bed fit for holding a dead body. The scene opens with a speech from Othello to the sleeping Desdemona.During this speech he talks of killing her and how he loves her still.

“Yet I’ll not shed her blood, nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow and smooth as monumental alabaster, yet she must die”. I think this quote alone shows how much Othello still loves Desdemona although he still feels the need to kill her after what Iago says she has done to him. All through the quotation he is complementing her on her beauty for example where he says “whiter skin of hers than snow”. I think that he is saying that he loves how she looks and if he were to kill her and get blood on the beautiful, white skin, she would be ruined.

Also when he says “as smooth as monumental alabaster” he is saying how beautiful she is. Alabaster is used to make statues and I think that when he sees Desdemona lying on the bed asleep, he sees her as a statue and I believe that he wants to keep her in that state forever and not kill her at all. Where Othello says “Yet she must die”, I think he is trying to convince himself that she has done bad things and that he must kill her still. However, he knows that he shouldn’t kill her because he still loves her.

I think that this puts Othello in a very hard position because as far as he knows, Casio is dead and all that is left to punish the supposed betrayal is for Othello to kill Desdemona. Throughout his entering speech to the scene, Othello is smelling and kissing Desdemona and wishing that he doesn’t have to do this to her. “I’ll smell it on thee, one more, one more”. I can imagine Othello leaning over Desdemona’s sleeping body and kissing her and smelling her scent as almost his goodbye to her before he does what he has to do.

Othello says “One more, one more” as he kisses her, moves away and then back to kiss her again.I think that Shakespeare uses the repetition of this to show that Othello really can’t leave Desdemona alone and wishes he doesn’t have to kill her. Just as Othello is saying all of this to Desdemona, she wakes. It is at this point that Othello asks Desdemona to pray for forgiveness of her sins towards him.

“If you bethink yourself of any crime unreconciled as yet to heaven and grace, solicit for it straight”. Othello is saying to Desdemona to pray for what he thinks that she has done to him, he loves her and therefore wants her to go to heaven when he kills her.Had the play been set in the real Venice none of this would have happened as prostitutes and courtesans were celebrated. Othello then goes on to talk more about how he wishes not to kill her unprepared spirit and therefore asks her to make sure that she has prayed and apologized for her supposed wrong doing.

Desdemona is in shock as she says “talk you of killing”, Othello replies with a positive answer. This makes Desdemona fearful of her own death and starts to apologize in generalisation for all sins she has committed, not actually knowing what Othello is talking about.This created dramatic irony and high amounts of tension in the audience and in the scene as Desdemona knows not what she is dying for, if it will be her at all, and Othello has not asked her if she is innocent for the crime he has been told of. After a few more sentences of conversation between then Othello accuses her of the crime she has supposedly committed.

Othello: That handkerchief which I so loved and gave thee, thou gav’st to Casio. Desdemona: No, by my life and soul! Othello: Sweet soul, take heed. Take heed of perjury: thou art on thy death-bed. Desdemona: Ay, but not yet to die.

Othello: Yes, presently.Therefore confess freely of thy sin; for to deny each i?? article with oath cannot remove nor chock the strong conception that I s do groan withal. Thou art to die. This part of the scene is one of the most dramatic parts in the whole play for this is the part where Othello openly accuses Desdemona of cheating on himself with Casio.

The handkerchief that Othello speaks of obviously means something special to him and he obviously hoped that it meant something to Desdemona as well. I think it may have represented his love for her as it is a gift and for this reason she passed it on to Casio, therefore Othello thinks that Desdemona loves Casio.Desdemona is pleading her innocence to Othello about the handkerchief and then says: send for the man and ask him”. This is very ironic as Othello thinks that Casio is dead because Iago said that he would kill Iago but Othello had to kill Desdemona as part of their punishment to the betrayal.

Therefore Othello thinks that he cannot ask Casio if the crime is true or if Desdemona is being truthful. This also makes the scene very dramatic as the audience know that Casio has not been killed by Iago and have realised that what he is doing is against Othello.Othello then says “sweet soul, take heed. This is telling her that she is, in fact, on her “death-bed”.

I can imagine Othello putting extra emphasis on the part where he says “death-bed” to try to hint to his love that she will die here and now. During this conversation that Othello and Desdemona are having, there are many things that show that Othello still loves her. One is that he has just called Desdemona “sweet soul”, this implies to me that he does still love her and wants her to serious about what she has done. He goes on to tell her that she is on her death bed to which she replies with what seems to be more hope that expectancy, “Ay, but not to die”.

This suggests that she still thinks that Casio is alive and Othello will be able to ask him for proof of her not sinning, therefore she is not yet to die, (or so she thinks). Another thing that shows his love or her in this conversation is the fact that he keeps asking her to confess and pray for forgiveness from God. This shows that Othello believes in live after death and that he wants her to be in a nice place during this time. Othello ends this sentence with, again, the mention of her death: “Thou art to die”.

It is almost as if this is his final word on the matter and that she will definitely die no question about it.Up to this point and beyond the audience cannot be sure of the outcome of the scene. As in Romeo and Juliet, the audience are wishing for Romeo to wake up and for Juliet to see that he is still alive. Shakespeare tries to keep the ending of the play hidden until right at the end.

This leads to high tension and a lot of dramatic irony in the plays. Shakespeare manages to keep the audience from not knowing the outcome of the scene and wishing for a happy ending so that he can unfold the play in one swift movement. Right at the end of Desdemona’s final conversation with anyone in this world, Othello smothers her.This is possibly the most dramatic and ironic part in the play for he has killed his wife, the woman he loves, with no real reason.

However, he believes that what he has done is right and that trusting Iago was the right thing to do. Othello himself now believes that he is worthless. “He that was Othello, here I am”. This is Othello’s first sentence that he says to Lodovico when he enters the room.

Lodovico asks to speak to Othello asking for his whereabouts. I think that when Othello says “That’s he that was Othello, here I am”. He is saying that he is not the Othello that he used to be.I think that his views on what makes him Othello are the same.

I think that he thinks himself to be a brave, respected man who has everything but every since his mind has been manipulated to the point of destruction by Iago, he does not believe that he is himself anymore. Therefore Othello speaks as if the Othello that Lodovico knows and believes in is in the past and the new Othello, the cold blooded, jealous murderer, I the new Othello. He is almost saying that Othello lives no more only a mere shell of Othello inhabited by something far darker and ultimately not a person.Alternatively Othello could be trying to hide what he has become from Lodovico as Othello wouldn’t want Lodovico thinking badly of him.

When Othello says this, I think it his final realisation of what he has become and turned into through the manipulation provided by Iago. Emilia then enters the bed chamber and tells Othello of Roderigo’s death, but not Casio’s. This then makes Othello realise that the murder he has committed was done under false pretences and that the murder is out of tune as not both Desdemona and Casio are dead although these are the people who he feels should have been punished with death.Later in the scene, after Othello finds out about the wrong doings of Iago and how he has wrongly murdered his wife, Othello realises that he has nothing left and speaks of it.

He says “for in my sense ’tis happiness to die”. This really shows that he has lost everything and that he cannot bear to live after what he has done. He thinks that being dead is better than living through what he has done. To show how much Othello really has lost he makes a comment half way through his final speech.

The remark is “like the base Indian, threw a pearl away”.This line suggests to me that Othello is saying that he was lucky to have Desdemona in the first place and that killing her is like a very poor person throwing away a very precious jewel. I think possibly Othello thinks he was so lucky to have Desdemona maybe due to his colour and the fact that they live in a racist society. Alternatively Othello might be saying how he is richer than everyone else, with Desdemona being the riches, and the fact that he listened to Iago was like throwing the pearl, his life, away.

Something so great that Othello had, he threw away and this makes him feel that since he has thrown his life away, he has nothing more to live for. This remark came up in Othello’s epilogue, his final speech addressed to not only the people in the scene but the audience also. Shakespeare would have done this to put emphasis on the created dramatic irony and to make the audience fell more involved and emotional, therefore making the play seem closer to their hearts then if Othello only spoke to the people within the scene. Before Othello started his speech, he says “Soft you; a word or two before you go”.

Othello says “soft you” which means “be quiet” in today’s language. He also mentions “before you go”. Othello says “you” instead of saying “before I leave you”. He may have done this to try to show that he will not kill himself only he wanted to say some things to them before they left him in the chamber.

Other than this Othello could be saying, “I need to let you know this before you are out of my life” meaning that he is going to kill himself. The big speech that Othello makes all goes towards him saying about how has been made to fall and what he has become.He has become a fallen hero which is part of the reversal of circumstances that Shakespeare took from the Aristotelian and Neo Classical Tragedy. Just as Othello finishes his long dramatic epilogue, he stabs himself.

This is in front of all of the people present in the room at the time and is very dramatic as Othello was the hero in the play and now it has all fallen apart. Othello then falls on the bed with the other bodies and dies which is ironic because within a small space of time, he has killed the woman he loves and then died next to her on the same bed.He killed himself because of what he has done to his wife which really shows how much he loves her and how badly he knows he got everything wrong. Shakespeare manages to fit in plenty of dramatic and ironic features into the final scene of Othello to make it hold the audience throughout and to hide the real finale until right at the end of the last scene.

He makes it dramatic with the fact that Othello at the start was the main man, the army general but at the en of the play he has to kill himself to escape from his wrong doings.Act 5 Scene 2 is also made very dramatic by Shakespeare in the way that he lets the whole play unfold in the last scene, in the same room. He may have done this so that the audience are not distracted by scenery changes and that the tension and irony can all build up until the finale. In the last scene four people die which is very dramatic, as all deaths are, but to have four deaths of which three are all in the same room is very dramatic as they are all linked to one and other.

Emilia’s death was one of the most dramatic as she killed herself because it was her husband who has caused the misery and wrong doing of Othello and cause the death of Desdemona. Possibly the most dramatic thing that Shakespeare planned was that the audience were not to know how the play unfolds until the last minute. It is at this point that the play changes to being a tragedy in the same way that Romeo and Juliet does. Shakespeare adds racism to the play to show his moral views on how the attitude of Iago towards Othello caused such a dramatic and ironic ending to the play.

The audience are left in a situation where they can think that it will go either way with Desdemona and Othello as when he is speaking to her alone while she is sleeping, he is talking of his love for her but also how she must die on this night. This creates a great amount of tension and dramatic irony as the plot of Iago planning against Othello throughout the play unfolds and when Othello realises what he has done and what Iago has done, it is the most dramatic and ironic part of the play.

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How does Shakespeare make Act 5 Scene 2 of Othello Dramatic?. (2017, Oct 28). Retrieved from