There is a lot of verbal irony in Shakespeare’s “Othello.” The irony is one of the most important literary devices in Othello. Irony plays an important role in Othello. The use of irony in Othello has a significant influence on the play.
When compared to other tales, the irony adds to the drama and intrigue. It also allows readers to wonder what will happen next, adding suspense to the narrative.
“Verbal irony is a contrast between what someone says and what he truly means. (“Introduction,”) The methods Shakespeare employed in his tragedy Othello to reveal the intended impact of actions to the reader, without letting other characters entertain ideas, are called signifying.
Iago frequently employs this kind of sarcasm and irony to enlighten the audience about his vicious schemes without having to reveal his plot to the other characters, making the play that much more convincing. “(‘Verbal’))
He’s also one of the greatest examples of someone who knows how to properly utilize verbal irony. Everything he says is always contrary to what he believes.
For his diabolical end, Iago lies and manipulates others about him for the goal of destroying Othello’s life as well as his own career. When Iago tells Othello, “My lord, you know that I adore you” (116), this is an example of verbal irony since Iago genuinely hates Othello and isn’t honest with him.
He’d do anything to destroy Othello’s existence. So, when Othello says, “I believe you do, and for all, I know you’re full of goodness…,” he implies to the reader that he accepts everything Iago claims on faith (117-188).
The tragic irony in Othello revolves around “honest Iago.” His actions and offenses lead to the deaths of great people. He fools Roderigo, Cassio, Emilia, and Othello himself. He is, however, a skilled deceiver who excels at deception.
This tragedy is largely characterized by dramatic irony. It’s the major literary device that drives the plot forward. Iago’s reputation differs from his actions at the start, and it is clear to the audience how he has altered his reputation. He even boasts:
Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago:
In following him, I follow but myself;
Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,
But seeming so, for my peculiar end:
For when my outward action doth demonstrate
The native act and figure of my heart
In compliment extern, ’tis not long after
But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
For daws to peck at: I am not what I am.
(Act 1, Scene 1).
To add to the irony, Iago’s deceptive abilities only heighten the situation. This indicates that Othello’s situational irony is growing. Viewers are anticipating the character to make the correct choice, but deception leads them astray.
He himself is a victim of his own misconceptions about others based on their reputation and behavior. Ironically, he believes in Iago’s fabrication about Desdemona. As a consequence, he is unable to obtain the facts for himself because he trusts it
It is apparent to spectators that Iago’s words are sarcastic in nature. As a result, Shakespeare places a high premium on verbal irony in Othello’s tragedy. Despite the fact that Act III marks the drama, Iago claims:
I am your own for ever.
(Act 3, Scene 3)
The audience knows that things are actually the other way around. Othello was deceived by Iago’s lies, and he is now completely enslaved to him. The dramatic irony at the end of Othello is intense. We know about Iago’s nature and scheming because Act 5 exposes the protagonist to his entire predicament. He kills himself once he understands that he cannot live with what he has done.
Iago creates the tragedy using his words. His ability to destroy everyone’s life was impossible without his eloquence. He influences all susceptible individuals who are unable to expose Iago’s evilness before the conclusion of the play. Iago ceases speaking as soon as others comprehend his plan:
Demand me nothing: what you know, you know:
From this time forth I never will speak word.
(Act 5, Scene 2)
The sorrowful irony of this tragedy is heightened by the fact that he lives after being stabbed. Characters with a greater degree of honor, on the other hand, are eliminated as a consequence of their deeds.
Othello is one of William Shakespeare’s greatest works. It generates a lot of tension for the audience as it builds up the suspense. The intriguing people, misled by their preconceptions and judgments, had a significant role in determining the conclusion. Iago serves as an antagonist who has the capacity to generate hatred and suspicion through speech alone.
He bullies and mistreats others in his path, but he plays his part to perfection. Othello’s use of well-handled settings and characters makes for a powerful combination. These elements are essential for the creation of a work of art.