Human Nature Plays in “Othello” by William Shakespeare

Table of Content

In ‘Othello,’ by William Shakespeare, the exploration of human nature plays a crucial role.

The plot occurs around a malevolent character, Iago, who plays on the weaknesses of human nature. Using this, he manipulates the other characters and subsequently leads them, and ultimately himself, to downfall. The worst and best traits of human nature also become the main themes in the play. The play largely explores human weakness, or the worst of human nature.

This essay could be plagiarized. Get your custom essay
“Dirty Pretty Things” Acts of Desperation: The State of Being Desperate
128 writers

ready to help you now

Get original paper

Without paying upfront

Such weaknesses are greed, envy, deception, racism and sexism, lust, sloth and wrath.Iago, a malicious character, and arguably the protagonist of the play, displays all of these deadly ‘sins. ‘ Iago’s actions and his sinful personality in effect ‘write’ the plot of ‘Othello. ‘ Othello, the Moor of Venice, has promoted a Florentine, by the name of Michael Cassio, to be his lieutenant.

Iago immediately boils up with jealousy, as Iago believes he should have received the job, “I know my price, I am worth no worse a place. ” This leads to his greed for revenge, to “serve [his] turn upon him. Longing for revenge is considered another bad feature of human nature. His succumbing to extreme envy, even from the beginning scene of the play, leads to him plotting the other characters’ downfall – the idea in which the whole play revolves around.

He is also jealous of Othello and Desdemona’s seemingly happy relationship, because he feels Desdemona has replaced his own influence in the eyes of Othello. Iago consequently causes this relationship to break down dramatically, which is a main focus of the play.Therefore the ideas of human weakness are definitely a main concern to the play, as Iago, filled with these weaknesses, acts on them and causes the demise of other characters and hence the storyline. Iago also displays signs of lust.

He describes Desdemona as, “Sport for Jove,” and “Full of game. ” He also illustrates Othello and Desdemona’s relationship as “…

an old black ram/ tupping your white ewe. ” The word ‘tupping’ implies that sex is something a male does to a female in lust not love.He is ‘sloth,’ or lazy, when Iago calls on his friend, Roderigo, to do his ‘dirty work,’ the act of revenge, for him. Iago is ‘sloth,’ or lazy – He uses his ‘friend,’ Roderigo, to complete his acts of revenge for him – the ‘dirty work,’ which involves starting a fight, and even aiming to kill Cassio.

Iago displays wrath through his strong, crude language, and the swear words he uses, “‘Sblood,” and “Villainous whore,” to his wife. His barbaric and animal ‘lust’ imagery help to show Iago’s true character, and allows the audience to understand that only a person such as he could cause such chaos.These ideas are therefore major concerns, as they are written to create visual pictures in the minds of the audience, and are remembered throughout the play. Iago’s feelings of lust also indicate the theme of misogyny and racism throughout the play.

These ideas are also major concerns, because they relate to the concerns of the viewers in Shakespearian times, and as a result, involved the audience directly in the play, and gave them a greater understanding. The human flaws of racism and sexism, “players in your housewifery, and housewives in your beds,” are highlighted through a major character in the play, Iago.Examples of the best characteristics of human nature are also displayed in ‘Othello. ‘ Faith, kindness, justice, humility, chastity, and generosity are considered the ‘heavenly virtues’ or the best traits of human nature.

Characters, such as Desdemona, Emilia, Cassio and Othello portray these qualities; at least at the beginning of the play, before Iago exploits these characteristics. Desdemona is continually faithful, kind and fair. The themes of heaven, beauty, and love are portrayed through this character.Even when chaos erupts, and Iago takes revenge, by breaking up Othello and Desdemona’s relationship, she speaks of her undying love and her apologetic nature is remembered, especially the idea of humility.

This is shown when she speaks her last words, and puts the blame for demise upon herself, “Nobody. I myself. Commend me to my kind lord. O farewell.

” Desdemona was also generous to Cassio, who had been dismissed, after Iago had used Roderigo to start a fight. She was determined to help him, “I give thee warrant of thy place.Assure thee, if I do vow a friendship, I’ll perform it,” and persistent, “If I have any grace or power to move you, his present reconciliation take. ” These ideas are main concerns of the play, because they create a moral in the play, and develop emotions inside the audiences’ minds, such as sadness, guiltiness and pity.

Something that has a major effect on the opinions and feelings of the audience indicates a main concern in the play, because it is unforgettable, and allows the audience to not only view the characters in the play, but also themselves.Othello, at the beginning of the play, shows what seems to have the ‘best’ qualities of human nature. He appears kind, just, and faithful, not only to his wife, Desdemona, but also to his job and fellow citizens. Othello also views Desdemona as containing the ‘best’ of human nature, such as beauty, “I’ll not shed her blood, nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow, and smooth as monumental alabaster,” even when he has broken down and plotted her death.

He also relates to her as a heavenly “rose-lipped cherubin. ” These ideas of heaven and beauty are shown as imagery throughout the play.It is clear that Othello, until his good qualities were exploited, was a happy and decent man. It was only after the weaknesses of his nature were played upon that he began his path of self-destruction and slide into extreme jealousy, and to believe only what one character, Iago, told him.

The characteristics that make up such an important character, such as Othello, are crucial to the way in which the play turns. I believe if Iago had not used Othello’s trusting and easily suspicious nature against him, Othello would have remained as he was at the start, portraying the ‘best’ qualities.Othello was turned into a man portraying the same nasty characteristics as Iago, such as extreme jealousy, lust and sexism, including similar barbaric imagery. In conclusion, the ‘best and worst’ of human nature is vital in this play.

It determines how characters react to each other, and the ways in which these characteristics can be easily used against them by characters having the ‘worst’ of human nature, such as Iago. These good and bad traits also develop into the main themes of the play, such as jealousy, deception, racism and misogyny, including others.These ideas are also the main concern, because they create imagery, which further highlights the importance through visual images, and relate to the opinions and emotions of the audience, involving them directly in the play. The whole plot revolves around the ideas I have mentioned, and the main characters in the story.

The plot is created by Iago, who uses the ‘best and worst’ natures of each character, against them, to fulfill the bad traits in his own nature, such as misogyny, greed, need for revenge and envy.

Cite this page

Human Nature Plays in “Othello” by William Shakespeare. (2017, Oct 27). Retrieved from

Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront