Everyone, or almost every literate person, I daresay has heard of or come across; in contact with or at some point gained possession of at least one of William Shakespeare’s work. While Othello is not the most popular, it is one of the relatively well-known ones and a must read for any drama enthusiast.
Written in 1603 and originally published some nineteen years later, it is based off of a story of a Moorish captain by Cinthio. It is a tragedy and tells a tale of a black soldier in love with a venetian woman who had suspicions about his wife cheating fed to him by his deputy who hated him and wanted him dead. Iago, the said deputy planted seeds of suspicion and doubt, even going as far as to steal Desdemona’s handkerchief, to convince Othello that his wife was cheating on him.
He also used Roderigo, a man in love with Desdemona to plot against Cassio, the man who Othello opted to promote, while passing Iago, forming hatred born from jealousy in the process. As the situation became more and more convoluted, things take a turn for the worse when Roderigo is murdered, followed shortly by Desdemona, and Othello, who committed suicide. Nonetheless, Iago’s confession is never obtained, but he is arrested for punishment. This play uses pathos, logos and ethos in abundance which characterizes and constitutes the majority of Shakespeare’s works. Pathos is used in multiple parts of the play. As this play is one that tugs heartstrings before devolving into tragedy, there is a lot of feeling to be done.
The author used love as a base for tragedy, while appealing to our emotions. For example, Othello’s love speech used to convince the council that he holds Desdemona under no witchcraft and there only is pure love between himself and her. Also, he uses pathos to soften the ire of the council by addressing them with more honorifics than necessary, “Most potent, grave and reverend signiors… good masters” (I. iii. 91-92)