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During
the time spent in English 102, I learned the importance of understanding the
theme, motif, and symbols within a story. The drama Othello taught me the most
about each one. Shakespeare uses Old or Middle English in his drama, which can
be difficult to understand. When learning to appreciate each of the literary
devices in the drama, it better helps me to understand what is going on in the
passage. In Othello, I found there is good and evil. I also found there are
heroism and love. Shakespeare portrays the themes and symbols in the drama. I
discovered how to identify each specific literary element through Othello to
better my knowledge through short stories and poetry and dramas.

The theme is essential to understanding
the idea of a story. In Othello Shakespeare uses two different type of themes,
one he uses throughout the whole drama is the incompatibility of soldierly
bravery and love. Overall, Othello is a warrior. From the very beginning of the
drama, his livelihood affects his married life. Though Desdemona is used to enhance
accommodations, she nonetheless follows her husband to Cyprus.  Additionally, she is serene by the Turks that
waited her crossing, and sincerely curious rather than furious when she is
awakened from bed by the drunken fight. Desdemona is Othello’s “fair-minded,”
and is the happiest when he
has her by his side. Shakespeare also uses the possibility of danger through
isolation as a theme. The action of Othello moves from city of Venice to Cyprus.
As soon as Othello, Desdemona, Emilia, Iago, and Roderigo have made to Cyprus,
they have nothing to do but begin to target one another. Isolation enables many
of the drama’s most important results.
Othello is obviously isolated from the other characters by his physical
appearance and the color of his skin. Iago is skilled at manipulating the space
between characters, separating his victims so that they fall into his
obsessions. At the end of the drama self-isolation leads to the deaths of four
of the main characters.

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             Motifs are frequent events, contracts, and
literary devices that help form the major theme. In Othello, there are three
specific motifs. The first motif is eyesight and blindness. Othello’s skin color
is a noticeable difference from everyone around him. Desdemona does not see the
significance because she can see his true identity. Desdemona is a character
that identifies the important values within each person she comes in contact
with. Othello, on the other hand, is frequently convinced by things he cannot
see. For example, he takes away Cassio’s position as lieutenant based on the Iago
story; even though, Othello does not see Cassio rub his beard with Desdemona’s
handkerchief he still trusts that Iago is telling the truth. Furthermore,
Shakespeare uses devils and monsters to illustrate the evil within a person. The
reference to damnation also reappears throughout Othello, specifically when we
reach the end of the drama, when Othello becomes worried about the spiritual
and moral ruling of Desdemona and himself. After Othello acknowledged the truth
about Iago, Othello calls Iago a devil and a demon numerous times in Act V. At
the end of the drama the characters are presented as merely ruthless, warped
and demonic.  

             In Othello, Shakespeare uses symbols such as
objects and characters. Since the handkerchief was the earliest present
Desdemona acquired from Othello, she keeps it on her as a symbol of Othello’s
love. Iago manipulates the handkerchief so that Othello starts to see it as a
symbol of Desdemona. The symbols revolve around her faithfulness and chastity.
By Iago taking ownership of it, he can present it as evidence of her betrayal.
Othello claims that his mother used the handkerchief to keep his father loyal
to her, so, to him, the handkerchief symbolizes marital loyalty. The pattern of
strawberries on a white background strongly implies the bloodstains left on the
bedding the night of the wedding. So the handkerchief suggests a promise of
virginity as well as devotion. Towards the end of the drama Desdemona gets
ready for bed, she sings a song called Willow about a woman who is betrayed by
her lover. She was taught this song by her mother’s maid, Barbary, who
experienced an adversity similar to the woman in the song. The song’s lyrics
imply that both men and women are unfaithful to one another. To Desdemona, the
song seems to signify a miserable and submissive acceptance of her separation
from Othello’s affections. As she sings it, it leads her to question Emilia
about the practice of adultery.

            Othello is one of the many works
that features these literary elements that Shakespeare has used. With
understanding the theme, motifs, and symbols of drama, or story, I can grasp
and better comprehend what I am reading. With the knowledge of these, I have
gained more motivation to learn and better understand what I am reading. Shakespeare
taught me to look for the little details in the stories to help me better
connect with what the writer is trying to deliver. Through Othello, I realized
that characters are not always what they seem. I also learned that many objects
had different meanings in different time periods. Using the literary elements
provided by the writer, it helps better understand and grasp what I am reading. 

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