Breakdown Within Othello

Essay by deshongeHigh School, 11th gradeA+, February 2007

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Shakespeare's "Othello" is a tale based on the systematic breakdown of order and civility within a highly structured society. The primary catalyst for this breakdown is the deceitful Iago, through whose handiwork structure is cast askew. Breakdown is the enemy of human nature and thus will always be replaced in the end by order due to the evolutionary pattern of increasing complexity which all forms of life seem to emulate. As the plans of Iago unfolded in unstructured Cyprus to create havoc for all, Desdemona and Othello, became broken down from their composed and highly respected selves until order was restored in the end.

The play begins in the cultured city of Venice, where order was prevalent and all things were stable and civilized; none can see the brewing tempest from which the schemes of Iago would soon emanate. The characters broken down by Iago's plot were Cassio who has no other intention than to perform his duties as lieutenant, Emelia who only wanted to win the affections of her husband, and Roderigo who was an honest suitor of Desdemona.

Cassio was temporarily ruined by the removal of his title because of a fight planned by Iago, Emelia was refused respect or love by the deceiver and eventually killed by him, and Roderigo was used for his money and also killed by Iago.

Order was destroyed as both the setting changes and the two main characters were effected by the puppeteer Iago.

While the Venetian hierarchy of authority did its job and decided to send Othello to the Cyprus wars one can see the situation breakdown in that the pyramid of leadership was cut off. Othello found himself to be at the top of a new, less structured hierarchy which rested frailly on the edge of civilization on the Island of Cyprus. Cunning Iago took advantage of this situation by using his relationship with the Othello to do his biddings and gain support and favor at the top. Iago slowly shoed his true colors to the reader through his discourses with Roderigo and his asides early in the text. This revelation of coming plans marks the beginning of Iago's schemes being released and the beginning of the chaos that they will bring. His most key move toward breakdown is to destroy the relationship between Othello and Desdemona by creating suspicion in the Moor as well as causing the Moors wife to take up the suit of the object of Othello's suspicions. As a result of this, Othello became flawed in his judgment and put his trust fully in Iago. Desdemona on the other hand was broken down because she was distraught over her husbands displeasure toward her.

The rectification of order is sometimes hard to see due to the tragedy and reform that is necessary for the healing process to occur. Unfortunately some must suffer for the return of order, but this was not the case for Cassio who after the death of Othello, became general. The side characters who suffered include Roderigo and Emelia who both were slain at the hands of Iago. Roderigo, oddly is killed in an attempt to regain order by Iago in that by killing him Iago no longer is in debt or had another living soul who knew his plans. Emelia proved to be the keystone in the reestablishment of order because she pieces together and tells of Iago's, but in a final act of breakdown is killed by the man she married. All three side characters became major contributors to the overall healing process.

The solution to the problem of the broken lovers, Othello and Desdemona, in the end proved to be death. Due to the poison of jealousy that Othello received from Iago he kills the woman who loved him with innocence and sincerity. After the truth came to light Othello took his life in anguish over his sins. Both contributed to order; Othello in that his mind was to addled to resume functionality as a leader and Desdemona in that she would be lost without her true love.

As order achieves a level of harmony in Cyprus one can truly observe the cyclical nature of order and chaos. Humans will always gravitate themselves in an circular fashion from times of balance to times of disturbance. To make peace in the end Cassio replaced Othello and the conspirator Iago is eliminated from the equation. Although order does not always play a part in the individual, it works to the advantage of the greater whole.