Emily M.

Light vs. Dark


In William Shakespeare’s play, Othello, Shakespeare utilizes the Light vs. Dark motif to emphasize not only the cliché good vs. evil but black vs. white, obedience vs. morality, and the corrupt vs. the innocent because the corrupt are making false accusations against the innocent, leading to the destruction of innocence. The innocent are easily mislead by the corrupt because they are too trusting of other people. Shakespeare’s point about society is that you have to be conscious of other people, and watch your back because you do not know what other people are thinking, and where their actions may lead them.

Act I Scene I Lines 97&98
White vs. Black
“Even now, now, very now, an old black ram
Is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise!” ~Iago

In the beginning of Act I, the Light vs. Dark motif is described as the literal white vs. black because the ideas are easy to understand, and obvious to pick out. The racism in the play, Othello, is being revealed by the subordinate character, Brabantio. Brabantio admires Othello, but would not want Othello to spoil his blood line by marrying his daughter. Othello, the old black ram, is married to Desdemona, the white ewe. Desdemona breaks away from her father, and tells him that she would rather stay with Othello than him. Because she defies her father, Brabantio retaliates by telling Othello she will defy him, especially because she defied Brabantio, because it is part of her independent nature. This lets Iago start to plan his revenge on Othello. This pivotal moment brings Iago to his part in the play by expressing to Othello that Brabantio told him to watch his wife. This shows the concrete idea of the Light vs. Dark motif to mean White vs. Black because it starts the series of events that will come to occur onCyprus.

Apple-White-iPhone-4-vs_-Black-iPhone-4-580x368.jpg
  • The phones are exactly the same, the only difference being the color of the phones.

Act III Scene III Lines 526-532
Obedience vs. Morality
“Witness, you ever-burning lights above,
You elements that clip us round about,
Witness that here Iago doth give up
The execution of his wit, hands, heart
To wronged Othello’s service! Let him command,
And to obey shall be in me remorse,
What bloody business ever.” ~Iago

In the middle of the play, Othello, the Light vs. Dark motif becomes Obedience vs. Morality. This quote explains that Iago promises to do as Othello wishes, even if it goes past his morals, and is very violent. This is when he knows Othello is going to go after Cassio and Desdemona brutally. Iago will make sure they are dead for things that he knows they did not commit. This is when you know that Iago is a psychopath when he does things he knows goes against his morals, but commits the crime anyway because it will give him a higher respect from Othello. The obedience shows the lack of thought, and self awareness. This statement by Iago shows that he is consumed with his plan and his mind, body, and heart will be focused on taking doing as Othello wishes to later take control of the situation. Othello is moral because he thinks he is going to kill the people who betrayed him. He truly believes they defied him, and should be punished for their actions. Iago is obedient to make sure his plan follows through smoothly.

obedience.jpg VS right-way-wrong-way1.jpg

  • The difference between obedience and morality is the role your conscience plays.


Act V Scene II Lines 123-125
Corrupt vs. Innocent
“Methinks it should be now a huge eclipse
Of sun and moon, and that th’ affrighted globe
<Should> yawn at alteration.”

Othello has recently, in Act V, killed his faithful wife, Desdemona. Iago has fed Othello lies to get him to believe of the treachery. Iago makes him believe that the only person he can trust is Iago, because he made Othello disbelieve in the ones closest to him. The lines above show the regret that Othello has for killing his wife. The quote literally explains his grief by saying that now there is going to be an eclipse because of the death of Desdemona. This figuratively could mean to him that his world is going to end because he can not live without her.
eclipse-10-moonlight-partial.jpg
  • This is an eclipse that Othello explains symbolizing the dark (sun) to enclose the light (moon). The sun shows the corrupt overcoming the innocent.