"Othello" A Critical Review
"Othello" A Critical Review
Prof. Niamat Ali
Depatment of English
Govt. Islamia College, Kasur
Shakespeare, the crown of English literature, can rightfully boast of his marvelous achievements as a dramatist. His plays both comedies and tragedies, have a sterling worth of their own. The magnet of his plays pulls the iron dust of thoughts, and the reader feels himself bound by silky ropes of interest and pleasure. He maintains such an artistic balance in his writings as is found in an expert acrobat walking on a tight rope. His tragedies develop from beginning to an end as a rose progresses from budding to withering .Thoughts scent and feelings shade can be viewed in wordy flowers through the eye of imagination. Lost with Hamlet, ruined with king Lear, stunned with Macbeth and stupefied with Othello, the feels himself much maturer as the finds a treasure of knowledge, wisdom, expression and power. At the same time, some faults can be traced out as some spots can be seen on the shiny face of moon. In the following passages an effort has been made to present a critique of Othello.
On the very onset, we discuss the various causes of popularityfalleninOthellolot.
Unique charaacters have been used in it who arrest our attention.In this regard ,first of all Desdemonasbeauty,nicety,adventurousness,etc., charm the reader to the back bone. He wishes to keep her in his view all the time and when she is slain he feels a great grief in his heart for this delicacy of nature. Secondly, Othellos unparalleled strength and bravery make the piece extra-ordinarily magnetic. H.Coombes remarks:
Any feeling that is made to apear more important than it really is can be
We ever expect something most wonderful from this mountain of might. But this mountain proves a volcano that busts and burns to ashes not only himself but also others. Thirdly, Iagos role casts a magic effect on the reader. He works wonders like Fate according to his own will. He seems more cunning than devil himself; wearing the thick mask of honesty, he cuts the ground from under the feet of the simpletons. His planning is just like the movement of the puppet master who makes others obey his beck and call without an iota of doubt. His so called honesty is like the darkness of Evil. Cassios role makes the play more playful and magnetic.Hibraverycumsimplicity,his attraction of personality and Desdemonas sympathy for him create doubts that something will happen recently.
Two momentous events thicken the interest of the play. In the beginning ,clouds of war make the atmosphere very very alluring. All senses become alert to know something or the other about the imminent war. The arrival of the messengers with ones toes after the others heel make the reader as well as the audience spell bound to await the coming bloody- field. Along with others, Desdemona herself wishes to visit the bloody fields to confirm Othellos bravery and skillfulness.Then instead of war, storm is involved to draw the senses to another natural phenomenon that is most captivating for those who are on the secure shores. The storm destoys the Turkish fleet, shatters their might ,even crumbles the very skeleton.
Now we describe some other causes of interest in the play.Othello is lost for some moments and interest is strengthened; it is diverted from one spectacle to another. The whole play presents stormy situation. In the beginning, Desdemonas elopement is an emotional storm for her aged father, Brabantio, the sudden information of the advancement of Turkish fleet is the political storm for the State ; misunderstanding between Othello and Desdemona is the domestic storm; then at last Desdemonas muder is the criminal storm. Thus the playwright shuffles the situation from one storm to another. What else can attract mans attention more than a sound storm. It is at the same time both success and failure on the part of the author, who has expertly handled these storms. But he has made the storm the centre of the readers thoughts not his artistic skill to make a piece of copper look like a golden one.
The author uses the Herculean bow of exaggeration to shoot fickle arrows of imagination on all sides. Situation, character and language all are saturated with exaggeration. A humble obedient girl departs from her home all alone at midnight and goes across a stream to marry her lover. Her aged father, who himself had enjoyed love marriage, remained totally unaware like a tree from all of this emotional attachment between Desdemona and Othello.
And it is not a duration of a short while but a long span of more than one year and the father could not even imagine such a self evident exposure. It seems merely the subjective approach flourishes on the banks of exaggeration. I.A.Richards says:
The two pillars upon which a theory of criticism must rest are an account
of value and an account of communication.
On the very nightof the marriage,the news of war alarm the atmosphere. It shows the secret agencies of the kingdom are too poor. They had no notion before it that the mighty enemy had been planning for war against them. Even storms can be predicted, why the war cannot be? Unexpectedly the storm comes and the fleet is shattered. Again the author has made full use of his subjective authority because no ship or person of the Venetions has been traced out by the storm. It does not seem a natural storm but the Furies begot by the curses of the Venetians. The winds of exaggeration can be felt blowing on the coasts of Cypress. Then overnight the married love-palace is razed to the ground on the basis of a baseless doubt. Desdemona has spent no separate time with Cassio. Cassio visits the castle once or twice and that also during the day.He has been their confidential friend and companion for an long time.
Othello is so childish that he cannot see the truth in Desdemonas eyes, rather the blind minded commander finds Cassios kisses on her lips. A commander has no insight to understand her household affairs; how he can make his army fight for the state. He lacks intelligence to see behind the scene. This unexpected, sudden and somewhat irrational misunderstanding make the situation exaggerative. It seems the author ,not the conditions draw the rope to hang the characters.