William Shakespeare

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on Othello makes teaching easy.

Othello: Style 1 key example

Read our modern English translation.
Explanation and Analysis:

Othello is written in a mix of blank verse and prose, with the style switching in accordance with the character and setting. Othello, for example, speaks in blank verse with an eloquence and  style that favors figurative language and has an elevated tone. The style of Othello’s speech slightly deteriorates by the end, with his syntax becoming more broken and frantic; however, the loftiness of his tone proves consistent. 

Meanwhile, Iago’s speech, while comparable in its eloquence and tendency towards evocative imagery, proves far more flexible than Othello’s. Unlike Othello, for example, the style of Iago’s speech switches between blank verse and prose. Iago favors verse when alone or with other noble characters, but slips into prose when making exchanges with the other soldiers or in more bawdy settings. This chameleon-like quality of Iago’s speech is a part of his manipulation of language, changing the style of his speech to best match his surroundings so as to earn others’ trust.

While the characters in the play speak with their own idiosyncrasies, the style of the play overall is fast-paced and action-driven. The in media res start, with the audience thrust into the midst of a discussion between Iago and Roderigo, gives the narrative a frantic sense from the start that reflects this high-energy style.