Othello Rhetoric Analysis

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Rhetoric is an incredibly powerful tool capable of seducing even the most obdurate of people. As one of the most illustrious playwrights ever, Shakespeare was no stranger to the power of rhetoric. Rhetoric served as the fountainhead of Shakespearian allure. We watch the dramatic works of Shakespeare because we enjoy having our emotions manipulated; we enjoy the catharsis and self-reflection that accompanies a trip to the theater. Shakespeare truly was a master manipulator, but his manipulation was generally beneficial. While Shakespeare uses rhetoric to create art, Iago uses it to cause destruction and pain. Shakespeare’s Othello can be used as a means of exploring the dangerous power of rhetoric and gaining insight into the ethical role it …show more content…

As soon as he leaves Venice, Othello can no longer rely on the Venetian senators to provide order and reason. Instead he assumes all roles, becoming judge, jury, prosecutor, and executioner. Though Othello tries to remain a Venetian, his character prevents him from doing so. To put it in Machiavellian terms, true Venetians, like the senators and Iago, are foxes while Othello is a lion. Acting as a lion, Othello is impulsive and obsessive and acts with force rather than careful reason. With the laws of Venice miles behind them, the characters of Othello seem to have entered a Hobbesian state of nature where anything is permissible so long as it furthers the individual interest. Indeed, upon arriving in Cyprus, the majority of the characters have lives that are “poor, nasty, brutish, and short” (Hobbes 76). Othello is the perfect illustration of the dangers of rhetoric. Iago exemplified the type of rhetoric that made the Greek demagogues threatening. He was able to pervert all of Othello’s positive attributes simply by playing to his insecurities. At the same time, Iago was able to manipulate Roderigo in a similar fashion by baiting him with false

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