English Literature » Notes » Role of Chance in “Othello”

Role of Chance in “Othello”

Alternate question: Discuss role of chance in Othello.

In no other Shakespearean tragedy, Chance has such an important and vital role to play as in Othello. Here the dramatist’s belief in the divine justice is replaced by belief in chance. In Othello, chance is at the center of the action and the tragic action would not have been possible without its operation. Here chance is the main spring of action. The skill of Iago was extraordinary but so was his good fortune. Desdemona’s love for Othello begins in a chance. It seems unnatural that Desdemona brought up amidst of the refinements & ceremonies of the Venetian life should have attracted towards the Moor.

Cassio’s dismissal is the irony of the chance. Cassio persuaded by Iago to drink a cup of wine, it is just by chance that Cassio strikes Montano and engages himself in a brawl which results in his dismissal. The role of chance in the “handkerchief episode” is most important because this is what gives final shape to Iago’s conspiracy. Desdemona by chance drops the handkerchief and Emilia picks it up without Desdemona’s knowledge and hands it over to Iago who has been asking for it. He drops it in Cassio’s room and it is again by chance that Cassio gives it to Binnaca to copy its embroidery.

Chance, again plays its part, for Binnaca arrives when Iago and Cassio are holding a talk and Othello sees the handkerchief in the Binnaca’s hand. It is the cruel conspiracy of the Chance that Desdemona cannot speak the truth about the handkerchief. She doesn’t tell her husband that she has dropped and lost the handkerchief somewhere. Unwillingly she sidetracks the issue when the Moor consistently inquires about it. Chance had to play its role that’s what Emilie to confess the truth about Desdemona that she had picked the handkerchief and gave it to Iago.

She maintains complete silence when Desdemona is fretting and fuming about the handkerchief. It is quite a different thing that Emilie later reveals the entire mystery to Othello. Its again chance that Desdemona sheds tears when she learns that Cassio’s death which goes to excite Othello’s jealousy. To conclude, chance is the lever of action, bringing about the tragedy in Othello with all the incidents introduced in such a manner that they appear quite proper and natural to the occasion.

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