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Weather Disturbances in 3 Shakespeare Dramas

This study will discuss the weather disturbances in Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, and The Tempest. Specifically, the study will consider the location of such disturbances in each play, the nature of the disturbance, and both the moral and dramatic significance of each disturbance.

In Othello, we first come upon a significant weather disturbance at the end of Act I, which takes fuller form in the opening lines of Act II, Scene 1. Iago, the evil plotter against the sanity and marriage of Othello, declares at the end of Act I that for his plot to take shape and achieve success it will require the participation of evil forces working with the weather: "Hell and night/ Must bring this monstrous birth to the world's light" (Othello, Act I, Scene III, 404-405). The significance of this call by Iago on the forces of nature and of evil bespeak the dark form of his plot. Morally, he recognizes the evil in himself and in his plan, and he delights in that evil, eagerly calling on those dark forces. Dramatically, the weather disturbance which will soon be manifest signal that, indeed, fortune is on the side of the plotting Iago in his efforts to destroy Othello.

The storm at sea which begins the first scene in Act II is the manifestation of Iago's call for evil forces to aid him. Specifically, the storm at sea has separated Cassio and his friend, Othello, which is a symbolic separation for the spiritual division which will come between them, manufactured by Iago. As the Third Gentleman declares of Cassio and Othello, "They were parted/ With foul and violent tempest," and Cassio himself says of Othello, still out on the storm-tossed sea, "O, let the heavens/ Give him defense against the elements,/ For I have lost him on a dangerous sea" (Othello, Act II, Scene 1, 33-34; 45-47).

Here we see the moral and dramatic significance emphasized--Othello will land safely from the storm, but he will be ultimately "lost" on the "dangerous sea"...

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