What Are Some Metaphors In Othello?

Shakespeare employs a wide range of literary techniques in his play, Othello, one of the most prominent being metaphor. This is especially used to characterize Othello. In Act 1 Scene 1, Iago says: “Even now, now, very now, an old black ram / is tupping your white ewe. Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you.” He goes on to say “…you’ll have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse. You’ll have your nephews neigh to you.” These metaphors provide animal terminology and references to Othello’s Moorish descent: “black” and “Barbary” in contrast to “white”, highlighting the hostility towards Othello’s ethnicity and interracial marriage. Brabantio is appalled that his white daughter is with a black man, and this reveals that while Othello has his respect on the battlefield, his race means that he is not good enough to have his white daughter’s hand in marriage. “I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs.” Shakespeare uses this metaphor to further enrage Brabantio. At this point in the act, Iago and Roderigo are trying to get Othello in trouble by bringing the news of Desdemona getting married behind Brabantio’s back. By saying “the beasts with two backs” Iago is referring to sex and comparing Othello and Desdemona being together as a “disgrace” because the word beast has such a negative connotation and, with that, even denotation. This contributes to the theme of how words, objects and phrases, whether based on fact or fiction, can drive someone to believe and do, what before, seemed to be unthinkable acts. “A horned man’s a monster and a beast…” Othello makes this metaphor as a way to compare who he is now as a person to that of a beast/ monster. This is a result of Iago filling Othello’s mind with the idea is Desdemona having an affair, and because of this he is seeing himself have more monster like thoughts. These thoughts can be seen through his concocting of a scheme to kill


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