The Poetry of E. E. Cummings (Drake Callahan) In the dictionary morality is defined as, “the degree of conformity of an idea or practice to moral principles”. This basically is refering to the way each character feels about his/her actions. It shows if they posses morals.
The morality of each individual in the story Othello is different in many ways. Shakespeare has made characters that have low morals, and characters that have high morals. In Othello he even has a character that on the outside acts as if he has high morals, but to himself he knows that he is only acting on a lie so in truth he has low morals. The minor characters in the play are used to bring out or uncover the morals of each of the main characters. The main characters in the story are Othello, Desdamona, Cassio and Iago. Each of them show their morality in different ways.
Some openly express their morals while others tend to hide it and keep it to themselves. The minor characters of the play Othello, who are Emilia, Roderigo, and Bianca Shakespeare does a wonderful job expressing the general theme of morality in itself. Some authors even believe that the entire play is carried on morality alone. In the play some of the characters attempt to be virtuous by doing what they think is right. In truth though they don’t know that they are really being deceived behind their backs and instead of being virtuous they are the total opposite and fail at their attempt. After reading this play I can understand more of how a person can use morality in a story to help emphasize a characters personality.
To better understand the morality that exists in the characters of this play you may look at childrens fables to see how characters may be deceiving. In doing this it is easier to understand what Shakespeare is trying to accomplish in Othello. One of the more easier characters to understand is Desdamona. In the play she is wed to Othello. Throughout the entire play the morality of her character does not change once. She is what you might call a pure woman. This can be seen when she says to Emilia, ‘Dost thou in conscience think, tell me, Emilia,/That there be women do abuse their husbands,/In such gross kind.'(IV.iii.59-61).
In this question that Desdamona asks Emilia she cannot believe of what she’s being accussed because in her mind with the morals that she believes in, cheating on your husband can never be done. This is a complete shock to her. What Shakespeare has done is made it seem like she was brought up in a good enviorment so that she has strong morals, hence high morality. This is probably the only character in the story Othello who keeps strong moral beliefs throughout the play. Her morality can also be viewed as a cause for her death at the end of the play.
If her morals wouldn’t of been so high she perhaps could have lied to get her way out of being murdered. Instead she would not break and because of morality a character is killed. The character that has to help Desdamona get through all the probems she faces is a minor character named Emilia. When ever Desdamona is troubled or confused about something, her servant, who in this story is more of a friend, is the one who helps out Desdamona and explain to her whats going on. This minor character has some truly major affects. By saying to Desdamona: ‘Marry, I,/ would not do such a thing for a joint ring, nor measures of lawn, nor,/ for gowns petticoats, nor caps,nor any petty exhibition; but for the whole,/ world, who would not make her husband a cuckold to make him a monarch?,/ I should venture purgatory for’t,(IV.iii.69-73)’. This is how she shows to Desdamona how immoral acts are created and that’s how the world works.
The character in Othello who is truly immoral is Iago. But to someone who did not really know what was going on in the story it could be very confusing. On the outside Iago acts like he has high morality and he is helping everyone out with their problems by giving them information. To himself, however, he knows that the only reason he is doing all of this is to get revenge on pretty much everyone that he knows or was associated with what he thought was the robbing of his new title in the army. In his own words Iago puts it:’In following him I follow but myself;/ Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,/ But seeming so far my particular end./ For when my outward action doth demonstrate,/ The native act and figure of my heart,/ In complement extern, ’tis not long after,/ But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve,/ For daws to peck at.
I am not what I am (I.i.58-65)’. Basically what Iago is trying to get at is how he will act like he is helping everyone until there all eating out of his hands but in truth what he really doing is for his own pleasure. The truly immoral acts that Iago performs also drag down others with him. The main person that is affected by Iago’s plot is Othello. Iago drags in Othello with his immoral lies and persuades Othello into thinking that his wife is cheating on him. This is the reason why Desdemona gets killed in the end.
Iago’s morality can obviously been seen as immoral acts of vengence. This twist of a good/bad character is the most significant piece of morality in the entire play of Othello. ‘O, no. He goes into Mauritania and takes away with him the fair,/ Desdemona, unless his abode be lingered here by some accident – wherin,/ Can be so determinate as the removing of Cassio (IV.ii.213-215)’. Iago is the most immoral character of the story Othello. And does a wonderful job of hiding it.
The character in the story who kind of shifts from seeming to have high morality to having low morality is the main character Othello. He begins by being the big hero that every one likes who just got married to Desdamona. He seems to have strong morals and everything is going good for him. This is all until Iago has that plan of revenge because Othello passed him up for a raise in his army. ‘I know Iago,/ Thy honestly and doth love mince this matter,/ Making it light to Cassio.
Cassio, I love thee,/ But nevermore be my officer (II.ii.220-223)’. When Othello here’s the rumors of what his wife is supposedly doing his true character comes out and low morality is seen. If he trusts rumors over what his own wife is telling him time after time of confroznting her then he truly does have low morals. So even though Iago is a big contributer to why Othello goes from having high morals to having low morals when you look at it, its his own fault because all along he had low morals he just kept them inside of him. Cassio is another one of the main characters in the story Othello.
He much like Desdemona keeps the same view of his and others morals throughout the story. Cassio is a good man in the story. He obviously works very hard to achieve that position at Othello’s new officer and beat Iago out for that job fairly. Even when he is fired because of the rumors spread by Iago, Cassio does not get filled with rage and go out on a killing spree. In fact because he has high morality the most he does or says is this: ‘Reputation, reputation, reputaton! O, I have lost my reputation! I,/ have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial.
My,/ reputation, Iago my reputation! (II.ii.236-238)’. In the end Cassio is the only character who is truly virtuous and lives. Two other minor characters that help bring out the morality of the main characters are Roderigo and Bianca. Roderigo mainly shows how Iago is immoral in his beliefs and actions. An example of this is the fight he’s in because of Iago between himself and Cassio.
He also gets his money and land stolen by Iago, which shows more of Iago’s low morality. Bianca is even less of an influencing character than Roderigo is, but the way Shakeseare sets the story up she still contributes to bringing the other characters morality. The morality inside each of the characters that Shakespeare has brilliantly created is obviously different from one character to the other. In the story Othello, these differences are what makes the story so realistic and believable. The morality is what carries the story.