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Bestility In Othello
For as long as literature has been around, authors have used imagery to make their point more understandable. Many times the use of bestial imagery is utilized to draw similar themes or traits between the actions of a character and others in the story. This is not a new technique, in fact it is one that dates back to the days of Shakespeare. The play Othello portrays bestiality as recurring theme and image from the beginning to the final verse of this tragedy. In the case of Othello, success also meant socio-cultural imitation of the social values of the dominant society; or in blunt terms, living white . (MacDonald, 33) His invisibility, his conscious submergence of his oppositeness, is now stripped away. A flesh of racism is added, to make him into a savage, brutish man; a black man who hides his oppositeness beneath a facade of whiteness. He achieves his white destiny, but he still retains that one aspect of his character, the beast. The evidence of bestial imagery is seen in terms of animalistic portrayal. Iago, Othello, and Michael Cassio, just to name a few characters in this play that have bestial imagery associated to them. The comparison of bestial thoughts and depictions in various characters brings about the theme of bestiality in Shakespeare s Othello.

One of the best ways to understand the use of animal imagery and the duration of its existence is to compare the famed Shakespearean Play Othello with a more recent work called Goodnight Desdemona, Good morning Juliet by Ann Mac Donald. While MacDonald's story is an actual spoof of two Shakespearean plays, that includes Othello as well as Romeo and Juliet, the use of animal imagery is as strong as it is in the original play of Othello. In her story, Macdonald uses the image of the cat and mouse game with which to draw a mental picture for the reader of the various chases that went on between the protagonists. Her use of the cat and mouse game was an excellent illustration of the comedic underpinnings that she believed were in Shakespeare's plays. The cat and mouse images drawn by MacDonald are not unlike the real life cat and mouse games that many people play when getting involved in a relationship. The cat thinks he is doing the chasing when in reality it is the mouse all along being chased until he catches the cat.

Animal imagery is very fluid and evident in Othello. The idea of dominant and submissive animals has been a literary theme for many years and this play is no different. Between Othello's complete domination of his wife, Desdemona, and Iago's domination of Othello it is a wonder that anyone had their own ideas. The dominant animal even shines through in the character of Emilia when she first comes across as a domineering and angry woman who grows to love and respect Desdemona. In fact she protects Desdemona with the fierceness of a tigress guarding a cub. But perhaps the most consistent underpinning of animal imagery in the play is the imagery given life regarding the character of Iago. Iago is a manipulator who takes advantage of the trust of everyone from his wife, to his friend, to his friend's wife. He is the epitome of a vicious and stalking animal and a profound example of losing one's human sense of compassion. This animal imagery in his core personality is displayed many times throughout the play. Even when he is trying to convince Othello of his wife's infidelity he uses the image of animals to make his point. "Were they as prime as goats, as hot as monkeys," (III.iii.403) his description consequently overcomes the Moor, that later, in greeting Lodovico he suddenly blurts out, "Goats and monkeys!" (V.i.256).

The evidence of bestial images in regards to Iago lies in his vial hatred for Othello. From the beginning, Iago likens Othello as the beast in Venice. From his hatred Iago is hell bent on destroying Othello, in his own mind unmasking the Moorish beast that hides behind a prince s face. Iago plans to ruin Othello by carrying out a plan based on lies and deceit. This plan will make Iago the only person that Othello believes he can trust, and Iago will use this trust to manipulate Othello. In his quest for Othello s demise, Iago in an ironic twist of fate uncovers his true devilish side, revealing the beast within himself. (King) In Iago s selfish bid to provoke Brabantio s exasperation of his daughters marriage to the Moor, he infuriates this old senator. He does so by referring to Othello as a beast that has stolen fair Desdemona. He says to Brabantio, "Even now, now, very now, an old black ram, Is tuping your white ewe" (I.i.85-86). He continues, "you ll have your daughter cover d with a Barbary horse; you ll have your nephews neigh to you; you ll have coursers for cousins and gennets for germans" (I.i.108-112). He vehemently incites Brabantio s fury by saying" your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs" (I.i.115-116). (King) For Iago, infuriating Brabantio by referring to Othello using animal imagery is just another step in his scheme for Othello s undoing. Iago makes his views of Othello very clear. He sees him as a barbarian , someone who can be duped into trusting the untrustworthy.

Iago realizes that his cunning abilities would work to perfection if he were able to convince Othello to murder Desdemona. In order to destroy Othello, Iago manipulates a stage where Desdemona and Cassio incriminate themselves by arranging a meeting between the two. Through this meeting, Iago provides Othello with ocular proof of Desdemona s affair, leaving Othello with the thought of murder on his mind. Othello is convinced that he must kill Desdemona for her betrayal of their marriage, deciding on poison as the method of execution. Iago, however, convinces him to strangle his wife: "do it not with poison; strangle her in her bed, even the bed she hath contaminated" (IV.i.200-201). (King) He exploits Othello s frailty at the time, and convinces him that he must kill Desdemona with his bare hands, thus leaving no marks on her body. Iago perceives the murder of Desdemona with a dagger or poison...
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Bestility In Othello. EssayMania.com. Retrieved on 12 Oct, 2010 from