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What is the Climax of Othello?

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The climax of Othello occurs at the end of act 3, scene 3. Here, Othello starts fully believing Iago. The Moor kneels in front of the villain and promises himself to get revenge. From now on, Othello is consumed by the idea of killing Desdemona.

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Othello is one of Shakespeare’s most emotionally charged and dramatic plays. It revolves around themes of jealousy and revenge. Despite being a good person and leader, Othello is manipulated by one of his trusted officers Iago. Iago plots a devious plan to destroy Othello and those whom he loves. As a result, many of those who are innocent suffer in a tragic finale.

The climax of Othello is considered to be one of the most critical and tense moments in the play. It occurs in act 3, scene 3, when Othello makes a decision to revenge on Cassio and Desdemona.

Throughout the entire play, Iago plants the seeds of doubts in Othello’s mind. He presents numerous suggestions and false evidence to convince the Moor of his wife’s betrayal. Being predisposed to Iago’s rumors, Othello finally believes in Desdemona’s disloyalty. So, the most critical moment of the play is Othello’s transition to Iago’s side. Seeking revenge, the Moor proclaims his impassionate speech:

“Even so my bloody thoughts, with violent pace,
Shall ne’er look back, ne’er ebb to humble love,
Till that a capable and wide revenge
Swallow them up. Now, by yond marble heaven,
In the due reverence of a sacred vow
I here engage my words.”
(Act 3, scene 3)

Then, he kneels in front of Iago and promotes him as a lieutenant:

“I will withdraw,
To furnish me with some swift means of death
For the fair devil. Now art thou my lieutenant.”
(Act 3, scene 3)

At this point, Othello is driven with jealousy and anger, convinced that Desdemona has been unfaithful. Othello declares that he no longer loves, but rather hates both Desdemona and Cassio. He vows revenge against them. The jealousy and suspicion fueled by Iago’s deceit and manipulation have taken over in Othello. He refuses to listen to his wife’s insistence on innocence and pleas of reason. Othello is emotionally distraught. He seeks to destroy those who hurt him and his own life, knowing that he will be punished if he commits murder.

The climax is reached when Othello arrives at this final decision. Some scholars place the climax at the point when Othello murders Desdemona, since that’s when the actual action takes place. However, this can be attributed as falling action leading to the resolution of the conflict.

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