Literary Devices Relating to Othello

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Paradox

statement whose two parts seem contradictory yet make sense with more thought. Christ used paradox in his teaching: "They have ears but hear not." Or in ordinary conversation, we might use a paradox, "Deep down he's really very shallow." Paradox attracts the reader's or the listener's attention and gives emphasis.

Tone

he writer's attitude toward the material and/or readers. Tone may be playful, formal, intimate, angry, serious, ironic, outraged, baffled, tender, serene, depressed, etc.

Themes

(1) the abstract concept explored in a literary work; (2) frequently recurring ideas, such as enjoy-life while-you-can; (3) repetition of a meaningful element in a work, such as references to sight, vision, and blindness in Oedipus Rex.

Irony

a literary term referring to how a person, situation, statement, or circumstance is not as it would actually seem. Many times it is the exact opposite of what it appears to be. Cosmic irony can be seen in Shakespeare's Othello. Iago begs his wife to steal Desdemona's handkerchief so he can use this as conclusive proof that Cassio is having an affair with Desdemona. At the end of the play, when Othello tells Iago's wife about the handkerchief, she confesses that Iago put her up to stealing it. Iago winds up being at Cassio's mercy. The very handkerchief Iago thought would allow him to become lieutenant and bring Cassio to ruins was the handkerchief that brought Iago to ruins and exalted Cassio even higher than his position of lieutenant. Irony spices up a literary work by adding unexpected twists and allowing the reader to become more involved with the characters and plot.

Metaphor

a type of figurative language in which a statement is made that says that one thing is something else but, literally, it is not. In connecting one object, event, or place, to another, a metaphor can uncover new and intriguing qualities of the original thing that we may not normally notice or even consider important.

Motif

recurring object, concept, or structure in a work of literature. A motif may also be two contrasting elements in a work, such as good and evil.

Personification

A figure of speech where animals, ideas or inorganic objects are given human characteristics. One example of this is James Stephens's poem "The Wind" in which wind preforms several actions. In the poem Stephens writes, "The wind stood up and gave a shout. He whistled on his two fingers."

Simile

a simile is a type of figurative language, language that does not mean exactly what it says, that makes a comparison between two otherwise unalike objects or ideas by connecting them with the words "like" or "as."

Apostrophe

is an exclamatory rhetorical figure of speech, when a speaker or writer breaks off and directs speech to an imaginary person or abstract quality or idea. In dramatic works and poetry written in or translated into English, such a figure of speech is often introduced by the exclamation "O"

Symbol

he use of specific objects or images to represent abstract ideas. This term is commonly misused, describing any and all representational relationships, which in fact are more often metaphorical than symbolic. A symbol must be something tangible or visible, while the idea it symbolizes must be something abstract or universal.

Foreshadowing

Where future events in a story, or perhaps the outcome, are suggested by the author before they happen. Foreshadowing can take many forms and be accomplished in many ways, with varying degrees of subtlety. However, if the outcome is deliberately and explicitly revealed early in a story (such as by the use of a narrator or flashback structure), such information does not constitute foreshadowing.

Paradox

what type is this? "I am not what I am" (1.1.71)

Allusion

what type is this? "By Janus I think so" (1.2.37)

Personification

what type is this? "What cannot be preserved when fortune takes/ Patience her injury a mock'ry makes" (1.3. 237)

Metaphor

what type is this? "Our bodies are our gardens, to which our wills are gardeners" (1.3.362)

Simile

what type is this? "The thought whereof/Doth like a poisonous mineral, gnaw my inwards." (2.1.318-319)

Apostrophe

what type is this? "Arise, Black vengeance, from the hollow hell." (3.3.507)

Symbol

what type is this? "Fetch me the handkerchief." (3.4.103)

Foreshadowing

what type is this? "If I do die before (thee) prithee, shroud me/ In one of (those) same sheets" (4.3.25-26)

Irony

what type is this? "Honest Iago." (everywhere)

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