Ambiguity Of Lies In Shakespeare's Othello
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In Shakespeare’s play Othello, there is an ambiguity in the use and meaning of the word ‘lie’. What Shakespeare does with this “lie” ”lie” confusion is not only provide some humor with the confusion of the falsehood “lie”, and lodging “lie” he also prefigures another more serious confusion of “lies”, that are at the heart of the play. Shakespeare introduces this ambiguity with the use of the clown, who plays around with the ambiguities in the word ‘lie”, Iago lies to Othello about Desdemona and Cassio lying in bed, Desdemona lies to Othello about losing the handkerchief and Othello and Cassio now lie in Venice and are foreigners.
Shakespeare's plays have at least one clown figure making an appearance and Othello, is no exception. These characters range from rogues who say only a line or two, to important figures like Touchstone and Falstaff. Even the smallest clown roles, show how the clown's freedom of speech allows him to become a mediator between the audience and the action of the play, helping audience interpretation.
The clown uses colloquial speech playing to the common man with the
Permission of the nobility---for laughter is a powerful tool, and everyone
loves a clown. This alternate viewpoint is helpful when combined with the
remainder of the thematic content of the play, for it solidifies the ideas
present by reiterating them through the eyes of a distanced (if not
disinterested) third party. The synthesis of all perspectives used ends in a
greater comprehension of the play as a whole. (Culwell 6).
We find an example of the Clown’s role as mediator between audience and action of the play in Act III. Sc. IV when Desdemona says “Do you know, sirrah, where the Lieutenant Cassio lies?” : -
Clown; I dare not say he lies anywhere
Des: Why man?
Clown: He’s a soldier; and not for one to say a soldier lies is st...
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