Othello’s final speech serves as a reestablishment of the character’s status of a tragic hero. He is obsessed with his reputation. Thus, he desires to portray his actions positively and receive respect from people. In general, the soliloquy reveals Othello’s feelings and portrays that social status is essential for him.
Before getting deeper into the meaning of Othello’s soliloquy, let’s analyze this term. Soliloquies play an essential role in various pieces of literature. Basically, it is an act of talking to yourself. In a play, Othello’s soliloquy expresses his inner feelings and thoughts. These speeches often carry a specific message and help characters to:
- analyze their own actions
- express their feelings
- make conclusions.
Throughout the play, Othello transforms from a noble general into a killer. His weakness and jealousy encourage him to murder the loving wife, Desdemona. The woman dies for the sin she did not even commit. After learning the truth and realizing that Iago tricked him, Othello decides to end his own life. This is the exact moment when his final soliloquy happens.
By giving the speech, Othello aims to justify the terrible decision he made. The realization that he was manipulated by Iago comes to the Moor too late. So, in his speech, he tries to demonstrate his motives.
Othello states that he loved his wife too much. He could not cope with the thought that she lied to him. Thus, he decided to murder her so that other men do not struggle because of Desdemona’s betrayal.
What is more, Othello is preoccupied with his status in society. Since he is a victim of racism, he is obsessed with the opinions of other people. His whole life, Othello wanted to prove that he deserves a high rank in the community. By the end of his life, the Moor cannot afford to lose his reputation. By giving the speech, Othello wants to be remembered:
“I pray you, in your letters,
When you shall these unlucky deeds relate,
Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate,
Nor set down aught in malice: then must you speak
Of one that loved not wisely but too well;
Of one not easily jealous, but being wrought
Perplex’d in the extreme.”
(Act 5, scene 2)
On the other hand, Othello also realizes that killing Desdemona was a terrible decision. He acted, relying on emotions without paying attention to his wife’s words and actions. The Moor accepts that the murder of his wife is a serious crime against the state. He even compares himself to an enemy of Venice. This is the main reason why Othello decides to end his emotional suffering and take his own life.
The final soliloquy of Othello is one of the most critical parts of the tragedy. This is the moment when Othello expresses his feelings about the murder and analyzes his behavior. Furthermore, the speech reveals what is the most vital value in the protagonist’s life – reputation. Othello is ready to do anything to justify his actions and prove that he has to be respected.