In Othello, Shakespeare employs allusion, symbolism, dramatic irony, and metaphor. These literary techniques assist the author in emphasizing the story’s main issues. Furthermore, they present themes like jealousy, weakened morality, and appearance vs. reality in a more graphic manner.
Shakespeare frequently employs allusion in Othello. This is a successful literary device that allows you to make reference to another work. For example, Othello makes biblical references such as “guarding the gates of hell” to indicate that Desdemona would be “watching over the entrance to Hell.” St. Peter is charged with keeping the heavenly gates secure in the Bible, but no one is assigned this duty in Dante’s Inferno.
Othello is enraged with Desdemona, whom he thinks is cheating on him with Cassio. Adultery is a felony, therefore Othello implies that his wife will go to hell for her actions.
Shakespeare emphasizes Othello’s fury and a disconnect between the spouses as a result of this technique. The concept of hell allows readers to picture how misplaced rage might lead to one’s downfall. The Moor eventually confesses his mistakes. It’s too late now, however, he is shocked and perplexed by Desdemona’s murder:
“O cursed slave!
Whip me, ye devils,
From the possession of this heavenly sight!
Blow me about in winds! roast me in sulphur!
Wash me in steep-down gulfs of liquid fire!
O Desdemona! Desdemona! dead!
Oh! Oh! Oh!”
(Act 5, scene 2)
He kills himself as a result, not seeing the reason for continuing his existence. Another popular device in Othello is symbolism. Shakespeare uses it to illustrate the play’s primary themes effectively. The most significant symbol in the text is undoubtedly Desdemona’s handkerchief, which has a deeper significance. Here’s what this item of cloth signifies:
Desdemona, on the other hand, loses this love token given to her by Othello. The loss of the accessory reflects their relationship’s deterioration. Iago’s underhanded machinations taint the sacred marital bond. Fidelity is yet another connotation of this sign. Here’s a fascinating story behind that handkerchief you’re holding in your hands. According to Othello, his mother used this handkerchief as a fidelity charm:
Did an Egyptian to my mother give;
She was a charmer, and could almost read
The thoughts of people: she told her, while
she kept it,
‘Twould make her amiable and subdue my father
Entirely to her love, but if she lost it
Or made gift of it, my father’s eye
Should hold her loathed and his spirits should hunt.”
(Act 3, scene 4)
Ironically, the handkerchief becomes the thing that solidifies Othello’s suspicion regarding Desdemona’s infidelity. The furious Moor exclaims after seeing the item:
“’Tis pitiful; but yet Iago knows
That she with Cassio hath the act of shame
A thousand times committed; Cassio confess’d it:
And she did gratify his amorous works
With that recognizance and pledge of love
Which I first gave her; I saw it in his hand:
It was a handkerchief, an antique token
My father gave my mother.”
(Act 4, scene 2).
The irony is also a significant element of the play. The dramatic irony that Shakespeare frequently employed in his works is one example. It’s a type of irony that’s emphasized through the characters’ remarks and actions connected to the story’s progression.
Characters typically are unaware of the ironic circumstances. The audience, on the other hand, can see them clearly. Such a literary device heightens the tension as the tale progresses. In Act 3, Othello says to Iago:
“I think thou dost;
And, for I know thou’rt full of love and honesty,
And weigh’st thy words before thou givest them breath,
Therefore these stops of thine fright me the more.”
(Act 3, scene 3).
From this point on, Othello is convinced that Iago is an honest and good individual. Iago, on the other hand, is actually scheming against Othello. This has been made evident to the audience. This produces a powerful incongruity.
Metaphors are also fairly common in Shakespeare’s works, such as Othello. In Act 4, Othello exclaims that “A horned man is a monster and a beast…” This example is a metaphor since Othello does not actually transform into a beast. Her imagined infidelity transformed him into something comparable to a monster rather than making him a beast.
The blind man’s journey may be metaphorically compared to an event in a person’s life when they are physically removed from their senses. Like the blind man, a person who is angry and jealous will lose many of their human qualities, such as compassion and logical thinking. Instead of rational reasoning, he reduces himself to animal instincts.
In Othello, allusion is a popular literary tool. The allusion is a literary device in which the character, narrator, or author refers to another work of literature or piece of writing. For example, Othello makes a reference to Greek mythology and biblical religious beliefs. When he says,’ You, mistress,’ in Act IV, scene ii of Othello, he alludes to the Bible.’
Othello is talking about his wife, Desdemona. Othello claims that after her death, Desdemona will be responsible for the gates of hell. St. Peter is the gatekeeper of heaven’s doors, as you may have guessed. Because Iago tricked him into believing she was having an affair with Cassio, Othello calls Desdemonawherever he goes and says she’s going to hell.”
Furthermore, by calling Desdemona the keeper of all things in hell, Othello is implying that she is the worst of sinners. This allusion helps to move the story forward by introducing a new dispute between Desdemona and Othello. Othello is enraged, but his accusations are misplaced.