"Othello" Representation Task

Essay by NZAOneHigh School, 11th gradeA, August 2006

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In my representation task, I have endeavored to capture the spirituality, innocence, and courage of the character Desdemona in William Shakespeare's 17th Century Revenge Tragedy "Othello". To explore how these aspects of Desdemona's psyche have been presented, I have utilized devices of textual integrity such as symbolism, juxtaposition, and meta-fiction.

The primary symbol utilized in my image is the lion located within the cage. Due to the fact that the Lion is a traditional symbol associated with courage, I have included it to symbolically portray Desdemona's nobility, but also to metaphorically depict how Desdemona is constrained, almost imprisoned by her society and its values. The audacity portrayed by Desdemona is presented through the text several times, where the lion opts to break free from its constraints; an example of which is present in the following excerpt:

"Desdemona: ... So much I challenge that I may profess

Due to the Moor my lord."

(I*III*186Ã 187)

Through this act of insubordination, a great irony is established - even though Desdemona can break free from the prison-like values of her contemporary society, she chooses not to - she chooses to remain within the cage. This irony, however, also works on another level: through the vast symbolic use of the colour white, a colour so often associated with religion, both the spirituality and innocence of Desdemona are portrayed hyperbolically, and thus the irony of a society imprisoning what they admire is established through this.

This concept of Desdemona's innocence, and thus her naivety, is accentuated through the use of meta-fiction at the top of the page, which reads:

"(Desdemona): Your wife, my lord; your true and loyal wife" (IV*II*33)

This excerpt has been included to emphasize the juxtaposition between the naïve individual who fulfils the Elizabethan women's role by remaining loyal to her husband to the death, and the courageous lion who chooses to break free from these societal constraints. This juxtaposition represents the constant struggle that has taken place within Desdemona's mind - the constant battle of whether to remain loyal to Othello, whether to satisfy the expectations that her society has of women, or whether to defend herself; to cast free the iron bars of repression and fight for the justice and respect which she deserves. This again relates to the central irony throughout my image, as Desdemona, just like the lion, has the opportunity to become independent and liberated, but instead chooses to remain metaphorically imprisoned

Through the use of textual devices such as irony, and symbolism, my image has attempted to capture the contrasting courageous, spiritual and naive aspects of Desdemona's psyche in William Shakespeare's classic Revenge Tragedy, "Othello".

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