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Conflict In Shakespeare's Othello Essay


Conflict may be experienced by individuals as result of the provocation of others, their environment or may be chosen for selfish purposes. Such conflict always leaves an impact upon individuals, societies or even the larger world. This impact may result in significant changes such as political struggles for racial freedom and equality, or may yield only severe consequences such as death. The latter is true for the Shakespearean play Othello. Here Othello blindly allows others to distort his values, thus allowing conflict to instigate death. On the other hand, Iago willingly chooses the path of conflict in an attempt to attain power. Margo Lanagans short story Singing My Sister Down and The Clod and the Pebble from William Blakes Songs of Experience, also develop my understanding about conflict, namely the way in which others may initiate our struggles.

The individuals choice to instigate conflict is explored in both Othello and Singing My Sister Down. Iago, inspired by jealousy chooses to initiate conflict as a method of achieving power. Declaring to be no worse in place, Iago presents an argument to his worth, versus Othellos choice of Cassio as Lieutenant. With the rhetorical question and what was he?, Iago offers his forceful argument, going on to label Cassio as mere prattle without practice. The plosive p emphasizes Iagos distaste for Othello in choosing a bookish theoric. Evoking erroneous empathy, Iago questions whether he in any just terms (is) affined to love the moor. So, ambitious and envious Iago determines to hate the moor and to follow him to serve my term upon him. He is not one for love and duty, demonstrating instead his duality in order to achieve his peculiar end. Throughout the play, Iago manages to live up to his declaration, I am not what I am, covering his evil intentions in a faade of righteousness, loyalty and truth. It is Iagos deception, which secures the conflict throughout the play. Similarly, in singing my sister down, Ikky appears to initiate the conflict. She is being punished for murdering her husband and in the mystical and tribal setting the consequences of such an act involve being left to sink to her death in a tar pit. Her choice to involve herself in conflict is highlighted by her mothers illusion to Ikkys past choices, You knew when you picked up that axe handle you were sticking yourself. Emotive language and truncated direct speech (Oh the baby the little darling) emphasize the effect Ikkys choice has upon her family. Therefore both these texts accentuate how an individual may choose to initiate conflict.

Conflict may also be provoked by the actions of others. Othello allows others to shape his beliefs, convictions and therefore actions. Othello, the moor, has a free and open nature that thinks men honest that but seem to be so. The dramatic irony of this statement is demonstrated as Iago dishonestly manages to persuade Othello that Desdemona is having an affair. Othellos foreshadowing statement, I am bound to thee forever seals his fate, marking the turning point in the play. This is then paralleled in the last line of the scene, I am your own forever. Othello encounters an emotional battle over Desdemonas innocence. This transforms into physical madness, which is expressed through animal imagery, Ill tear her all to pieces. Othellos madness is similar to that of the narrator in Singing my Sister Down. His conflict is provoked by the actions of his sister Ikky, and through the use of first person narration responders can see the distressing effect this has upon him. After blowing himself to pieces over the traumatic incident, he walks the impossible steps like a demon and finally has to be carried like Jappitys wife used to carry Jappitys idiot son. Such similes and the emotive and forceful diction used to describe the horror of this experience, induce sympathy for the vulnerable child. The tragic impact of conflict on both Othello and this boy develop my understanding of the devastating course conflict may take in the lives of individuals.

Like Othello, Auntie Mais (Singing) sense of conflict has also been shaped by the actions of others. She is struggling within herself, due to the fact that she sees shame where some of us just see people. She refuses to sing Ikky down, claiming figuratively, shes cloven my heart in two with that axe of hers. Just as Iago influences Othello, the pebbles (The Clod) distorted view on conflict is shaped by society and those around him. This causes him to be in conflict with the opinions of others (the clay). The pebble with the words love seeketh only self to please echoes Iagos deceptive my lord you know, I love you. Like Iago manipulates Othello, the pebble metaphorically sees love as a tool to bind another to its delight. Iagos influence results in Othellos madness and dramatically builds a hell in heavens despite (The Clod). These texts extend my understanding of conflict as they all express how the views of an individual may be manipulated by the actions of others.

Conflict may also arise from the differing perspectives present in a place or society. In Othello, Venice and the Senates representation of law, order and justice is juxtaposed with the chaos present in Cyprus. Likewise, the chief on the bank of the marsh (Singing) contrasts the torment and shame experienced by Ikky and her family. In the clod and the pebble, the antithesis of opinion is formed by differing surroundings. The clod is from the field and the pebble of the brook. Thus their environment has shaped their now conflicting perspectives.

As evidenced in all three texts, conflict may be the chosen path of an individual; may be provoked by others or influenced by their surroundings. Regardless, it always has an impact. However, through my study I have learnt that it is the individual who holds the power to determine the impact and ultimate outcome of the conflict.

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