Examination Questions on Othello
Question: How does Othello's suicide affect us as a matter of morals, and as to the dramatic necessities of the play?
Answer: As a matter of morals, Othello's suicide strikes us as being wrong since "the Everlasting has fixed His canon
against self-slaughter": "Thou shalt not kill." And yet, looking at it from another standpoint, Othello's suicide
seems but a just retribution for the death of Desdemona. The play would lose much of its interest for us were Othello
to live after losing honor, love, and the pure being who had been as the inspiration of his life; and certainly our great
admiration for Othello's sense of honor would be diminished. We would feel a kind of indignation, a kind of resentment,
as it were, for the death of Desdemona, for there is in us an instinctive feeling or idea of justice and reparation, and
Othello's death is the reparation which Fate requires at his hand for the innocent death of Desdemona.
As Othello has lived like a hero, he will not forfeit his
claim to that title in his death. His last two acts were perhaps the most heroic of his life. He sacrifices his wife, his
love, all that makes life worth living to his sense of honor,
and then finding that this very sacrifice has brought not
honor but dishonor, as he is now a "murderer," he sacrifices
himself to his honor, and dies by his own hand.
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How to cite this article:
Ragland, Fanny. Shakespeare Examinations. Ed. William Taylor Thom, M. A. Boston: Ginn and Co., 1888. Shakespeare Online. 10 Aug. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/othello/examqo/othellosuicide.html >.
Lectures on Othello: Play Construction and the Suffering and Murder of Desdemona
Lectures on Othello: Othello's Jealousy
The Moral Enigma of Shakespeare's Othello
Othello as Tragic Hero
Stage History of Othello
Othello: Plot Summary
Othello: Q & A
Quotes from Othello
How to Pronounce the Names in Othello
Iago Character Introduction
Othello Character Introduction
Desdemona Character Introduction
Iago's Motives: The Relationship Between Othello and Iago
Shakespeare and Race: The Relationship Between Othello and Desdemona
Othello: Essay Topics
Shakespeare's Sources for Othello
The Problem of Time in Othello
What is Tragic Irony?
Seneca's Tragedies and the Elizabethan Drama
Characteristics of Elizabethan Drama
Shakespeare Timeline: Part 1 (1558-1599)
A Shakespeare Timeline: Part 2 (1600-1604)
A Shakespeare Timeline: Part 3 (1605-1616)