Personal Conflict – Othello, I Was only 19, Absolutely Fabulous
Personal Conflict – Othello, I Was only 19, Absolutely Fabulous
Personal conflict is an anticipating and unavoidable aspect of the world in which squalor, personal estrangement and spiritual cynicism is compounded by fears of social rejection and misunderstanding. However, an individual’s capability to keep faith in the essential integrity of man and in his capacity for love and compassion enables his ability to cope and overcome the destructive effects of personal conflict. Through the prescribed text Othello, by William Shakespeare and the related texts, the song I was only 19, by John Schumann and the episode ‘Fat’ from the television series Absolutely Fabulous, by Jennifer Saunders, the various composers depict the meaning of personal conflict using different techniques, giving the responder different views on how people cope with their own individual struggles in life.

In the text Othello, William Shakespeare conveys personal conflict through the portrayal of his protagonist Othello. Seen as a ‘valiant’ man, a lack of trust and self belief turn him into an extremely jealous husband. The change to the ‘general’ came when the antagonist, Iago, convinced Othello that his wife was committing adultery. The plunge of a great man, resulting from this accusation consequently led to extreme resolutions. This was Othello’s only answer to solve his emotional distress.

The tragedy is intensified as Shakespeare initially outlines the many traits of his protagonist. Othello is portrayed as a noble gentleman who speaks well of him self. This is well reinforced, quite paradoxically by the villain Iago, as he is jealous of Othello’s power. The repetition of ‘my’ shows that he is a very self-assured man, and has a lot to say about his life.

The tragic motives increase extremely, with Othello now seen as a ‘blacker devil’. The dramatic use of contrast helps heighten the way he speaks of the perfection of his love. Elevated language, ‘Like to the Pontic Sea, who’s icy current, and compulsive course, reflects on the feelings of Othello, appoints out the emotional torment he is going through. As Othello is succumbing to the ‘green eyed monster’, the change of language is reflected as the rhythms of speech are replaced with crude sexual references and bestial images, ‘my fair warrior’ is now replaced with the ‘cunning whore of Venice’, and Othello now referring to himself as the man who married such a ‘strumpet’. The consequences of Othello’s personal conflict now are easy to see, as he is completely overwhelmed and convinced his wife is a whore.

As an outsider in a white community, Othello is well aware of what it feels like to be alienated from society. Iago’s deliberate use of sexual imagery such as ‘making the beast with two backs’ suggests that in a white society, sex and witchcraft were considered racial labelling. As a confused outsider, Othello is easily convinced that he does ‘know our country is disposition well’ and consequently becomes a victim of Iago’s villainess plans, and the fatal flaw of jealousy and self-doubt have devastating consequences.

In the conventions of the tragedy, Othello’s regeneration is only possible through his responsibility for the tragic circumstance. Paradox is used to suggest that Othello feels he is committing a noble deed by murdering his wife, ‘So sweet was ne’er so fatal’. Shakespeare foreshadows Othello’s death in the violent image of his slaying of a ‘malignant and a turban’d Turk’. Through this conclusion, Shakespeare supports that Othello is undoubtedly a tragedy in which the hero’s righteous stature is dramatically consisted by his flaw in character.

In the related text I was only 19, the composer, John Schumann, portrays personal conflict through a young man who is dealing with the life long scars from the Vietnam War. The poem was made into a ballad to personalise it and gives the responder a qualitative experience

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Personal Conflict And William Shakespeare. (April 2, 2021). Retrieved from