(Composed in the design of a speech) William Shakespeare’s Othello is a play about credibility. The function of reputation is a major one as throughout the play we see the significance of how one is viewed. For some, to act in a certain way with self control eventually leads them to strengthen their character and image. But for others it can be lost in a single action. The characters within the play struggle to keep their track record for different factors such as retribution or to keep a reputation for themselves. Credibility can hinder judgement in both methods on the choices the character makes and the ideas made about them.
To the Elizabethans, credibility was everything to them; a lot so that their credit deserved more than their life. To be remembered and honoured after their death was of top priority. So in stating that, if you were to be publically disgraced it was better to pass away than live in shame. In today’s modern context, a bad track record can be difficult to reconstruct since of the judgements everyone has of the specific or group before they have actually acted wrongly. An example of this might be a big business who has actually already developed a name for themselves; if a significant defect was to occur it might be financially disastrous for them.
The scene which I believe to underpin my interpretation of the play would be Act 4 Scene 1 where Othello strikes Desdemona in public. This scene would be the turning point in Othello’s character as we can see an once worthy and respected guy change into a cruel savage. The value of honour is pointed out right at the start of the scene when Iago compares that to Desdemona’s scarf. He specifies that honour is an “essence that’s not seen, but for the scarf …” He desires Othello to think that we can’t see the essence of Desdemona’s honour however the handkerchief is something we can see.
Basically he wants Othello to associate the handkerchief with Desdemona’s honour. Shakespeare utilizes dramatic irony to build up the stress in the scene between Othello and Desdemona. She is available in with Lodovico who provides Othello a letter which tells him to leave Cyprus for Venice and Cassio to be designated guv. Due to the fact that of this she is over the moon for Cassio as formerly there had actually been no progress on his situation. But on the other hand, Othello interprets her happiness as a method of expressing her love for Cassio in public, best in front of him. Of course the audience understands this isn’t real.
He then starts to angrily mock her happiness saying, “I’m pleased to see you mad”. However when she asks why he is acting like this, he slaps her. In striking Desdemona, it shows practically just how much Othello has actually changed. With the tiniest appreciation of Cassio from her can send him into a craze. Although, the thing that he is most scared of is that Desdemona’s alleged affair might destroy his credibility. The ironic thing is, this is all his own doing, and he is polluting his own good name in striking her. We see Othello as a high ranked military officer, appreciated amongst individuals.
Eventually he is ending up being the sort of person Brabantino accused him of being, a savage. Even Lodovico is stunned at what he is seen. He asks “Is this the worthy Moor whom our full senate/ call all in all enough? Is this the nature/ Whom passion could not shake?” What he has just witnessed, he feels, doesn’t fit with Othello’s reputation. Right after, he is told by Lodovico to make it up to her since she is crying however Othello has no pity. He says, “O devil, devil/ If that the earth could brim with woman’s tears/ each drop she falls would prove a crocodile”.
The imagery of a crocodile or more particularly crocodile tears originates from an anecdote that crocodiles wept to entice in their victims or to weep for their victims while they’re being consumed. In a sense, it’s hypocritical. At the time, many purchased the idea of Spontaneous Generation and that it was thought crocodiles outgrew the mud of the Nile, spontaneously. So what Othello is trying to say is that if the earth was filled with women’s tears, Desdemona’s tears would bring to life crocodiles. So one might state surrounding all this hypocrisy, she is the mom of it all. Obviously, this isn’t the only scene which illustrates track record.
Early on in Act 2, Cassio enters into a drunken quarrel with Roderigo and injuries Montano. He ends up losing his title and when he’s asked by Iago if he is injured, he responds that it is a wound that can’t be healed: “I have actually lost my track record! I have actually lost the never-ceasing part of myself, and what stays is bestial”. What he is describing is a Classical Christian and Western middle ages idea called the Great Chain of Being. This concept was a ranking of all matter and life, beginning with the divine being, and advances down to angels, people, animals, plants and minerals.
Within the human rank it was additional divided into kings to slaves. It was stated that if a human were to lose their mankind, they would end up being a monster. This describes Cassio’s worry that his loss of track record puts him down to the bestial level. It likewise demonstrates how dear Elizabethans held their track record. So in conclusion, the struggle to keep a good track record is a crucial theme that originates from Othello, if it wasn’t for this, the outcome as we know it would’ve been entirely various.