Othello
Wiliam Shakespeare
Contributed by Karim Chandra
Symbols
Symbols are objects or figures that artists use to represent an idea.
Handkerchief
Red always signifies love. On the first night of love between Desdemona and Othello, blood stained the bedsheets. That is love. The red mark on the white bedsheet is extremely dear to Othello. He desires that the love between him and Desdemona lasts forever. The first gift that Desdemona received from Othello was a handkerchief. So important is the handkerchief in this case that when Iago gets hold of it, he intends to use it as a symbol of infidelity from Desdemona. There is a pattern of strawberries that appear on the background of handkerchiefs. It represents the blood that was shed on the white handkerchief on the first sexual encounter. Thus, it represents chastity and faithfulness among couples.
The Candle
When Othello kills Desdemona, he blows out a candle. That represents the end of Desdemona's life. Thus, a person's candle will be lit when they are alive but will get extinguished upon death.
Animals
At the beginning of the play, Iago introduces an image of animals. According to Iago, there is something animalistic and bestial about Othello. Perhaps Iago is referring to the colour of Othello's skin to describe him. It is an indication that there is an element racial discrimination in the play since Othello is a black man from the Northern part of Africa. In many cases, black people have been associated with beastly acts, and that is the case with Othello in this Iago's description.
Location
Shakespeare uses different locations in the play. The different locations that Shakespeare uses in the play represent different mindsets. In the play, Venice symbolizes civilization while Cyprus represents the wilderness. The events that happened in Cyprus are never to occur in Venice.
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