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Custom Written Term Papers: Othello’s Involved Imagery

Othello’s Involved Imagery

The intricate imagery peppering the language of the characters in Shakespeare’s drama Othello is deserving of our detailed consideration in this paper. It has significant meaning, and nearly expresses a life of its own.

The play’s imagery is oftentimes reflective of the fortunes of the protagonist. As the Moor’s status declines, the quality of the imagery in the play declines. In The Riverside Shakespeare Frank Kermode explains the relationship between imagery and Othello’s jealousy:

It is very important to see that Othello’s self-estimate – “one not easily jealious, but, being wrought, / Perplexed in the extreme” (V.ii.345-46) – is, as Bradley says, “perfectly just,” and perfectly consistent with the release of unsuspected grossness of language and imagery under the shock of discovering infidelity in the loved one. The peculiar pain of sexual jealousy is deeply involved with the excremental aspect of the sexual organs, and the emotion in betrayal in a supremely intimate trust is involved with agonizing associations of filth and animality. (1200)

A surprising, zoo-like variety of animal injury occur throughout the play. Kenneth Muir, in the Introduction to William Shakespeare: Othello, explains the conversion of Othello through his increased use of animal imagery:

Those who have written on the imagery of the play have shown how the hold Iago has over Othello is illustrated by the language Shakespeare puts into their mouths. Both characters use a great deal of animal imagery, and it is interesting to note its distribution. Iago’s occurs mostly in the first three Acts of the play: he mentions, for example, ass, daws, flies, ram, jennet, guinea-hen, baboon, wild-cat, snipe, goats, monkeys, monster and wolves. Othello, on the other hand, who makes no use of animal imagery in the first two Acts of the play, catches the trick from Iago in Acts III and IV. The fondness of both characters for mentioning repulsive animals and insects is one way by which Shakespeare shows the corruption of the Moor’s mind by his subordinate. (21-22)

Just how strong a force is the imagery in this drama? Is it more powerful than the chorus in ancient Greek tragedy? H. S. Wilson in his book of literary criticism, On the Design of Shakespearean Tragedy, discusses the influence of the imagery of the play:

It has indeed been suggested that the logic of events in the play and of Othello’s relation to them implies Othello’s damnation, and that the implication is pressed home with particular power in the imagery.

Poe’s Fall of The House of Usher Essay – Downward Transcendence

Downward Transcendence in The Fall of the House of Usher

According to Beverly Voloshin in “Transcendence Downward: An Essay on ‘Usher’ and ‘Ligeia,'” Poe presents transcendental projects which threaten to proceed downward rather than upward” in his story “The Fall of the House of Usher” (19). Poe mocks the transcendental beliefs, by allowing the characters Roderick Usher, Madeline Usher, the house and the atmosphere to travel in a downward motion into decay and death, rather than the upward transcendence into life and rebirth that the transcendentalists depict. The transcendence of the mind begins with Roderick Usher and is reflected in the characters and environment around him.

The beliefs of transcendentalists are continuously filled with bright colors and ideas, and heavenly-like tones. The character Roderick Usher suffered much from a morbid acuteness of the senses” which refers to his transcendental beliefs (Poe 1465). Usher finds his transcendental connection with the oversoul but instead of brightness he finds gloom with black, white and gray colors. Madeline Usher suffers from “a gradual wasting away of the person, and frequent although transient affections of a partially cataleptical character” (Poe 1465). This results from a loss of contact with the physical world, again a characteristic of a transcendentalist, yet negative instead of positive. According to Voloshin “Madeline matches her bother’s pallor, but her special mark is red-a faint blush when she is interred and blood on her garments when she emerges” (22). Both characters differ from transcendentalists with their disintegration of the body and mind instead of a rebirth of the body and mind of a transcendentalist.

Because of his connection with the oversoul Roderick Usher finds it difficult to communicate with words, so instead he uses paintings and writings to describe his inner thoughts. Voloshin describes how in “The Haunted Palace,” a writing by Usher, he explains his own ” fall of order into chaos, reason into madness, innocence into experience” (20). Representing another downward and deathly transcendence is Madeline, who is painted in the “vault or tunnel” by Roderick. In the painting, Roderick portrays Madeline in a tomb, and gives her no chance to have her own beliefs by locking her in. By doing this, Roderick breaks the transcendental belief that says being locked into the past is wrong, and each person should break free to create beliefs of their own.

Just as the transcendence into decay is found in the characters of “The Fall of the House of Usher” it is also found in the actual house and the environment around it.

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