The Guilty Conscience Is As Bad As A Guilty Act
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, I’ve come here today to present you with a man who wants to justify the murder of his wife. I will show you how unjustified his act and his thoughts were in this not so spontaneous crime. Othello is on trial for murder and I would like to remind you that he has admitted full and absolute blame for this and you should not heed that lightly. Under the circumstances his mental state will come into account, but do not be bewildered by his claims of psychosis as any man could have had these thoughts befallen upon him and not taken action.
This act of murder was premeditated, therefore making it first-degree murder. In a passing conversation earlier with Iago, Othello suggests that Desdemona “shall not live”. (Othello, 4. 1. 170) He goes on to describe how he should murder her as a passing thought. As Othello has stated here “Hang her! – I will chop her into messes. – Get me some poison, Iago, this night. ” (Othello, 4. 1. 174,184,188) Iago goes on to suggest that Othello shouldn’t poison his wife but rather strangle her in bed.
Othello continued to speak with Iago about how he was going to strangle his wife because of her supposed adultery against him. Even though Iago is an accessory to this crime for his manipulation of Othello’s thoughts and his suggestions on how to kill Desdemona, Othello is still at fault for the proceeded crime. Mens rea suggests that Othello knew murdering his wife was wrong and yet he did so out of spite. His actus reus suggests that in killing his wife he was distraught and did act in the heat of passion, yet still mens rea proves him guilty of this act and his malice aforethought.
His psychological state is that of every other man with a jealous, green monster on his back. He is not warranted to any plea of insanity as he acted on a conscious and well planned thought, which does not concede in insanity. Othello once more admits to his guilty consciousness of this crime in his words just before he murdered Desdemona: “Yet I’ll not shed her blood. Nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow and smooth as monumental alabaster. Put out the light, and then put out the light. If I quench thee, thou flaming minister, I can again thy former light restore, should I repent me.
But once I put out thy light, thou cunning’st pattern of excelling nature, I know not where is that Promethean heat that can thy light relume. When I have plucked the rose, I cannot give it vital growth again, it needs must wither. I’ll smell it on the tree. Ah, balmy breath, that dost almost persuade justice to break her sword! One more, one more. Be thus when thou art dead, and I will kill thee, and love thee after. One more, and this the last. So sweet was ne’er so fatal. ” (Othello, 5. 2. 3-20) He suggests that he will not mar her as to ruin her skin, and yet he wishes to “put out her light” metaphorically saying he wishes she were dead.
He goes on to contemplate his actus reus by comparing her to a flame and a rose that can not be restored after its eradication. Othello planned the murder of his wife with his inferior soldier, he knew what he was doing was wrong, and he continued to smother her as she pleaded for her life. Desdemona begged for her life shortly before her death: “Oh banish me, my lord, but kill me not! – Kill me tomorrow, let me live tonight! – But half an hour! – But while I say one prayer! “. She was unjustifiably murdered for an act she knew she had not committed.
Othello acted on his jealousy and thoughts of malice rather than his love and faith in his wife, does this not make him a guilty man? Should Othello be acquitted of this crime or convicted of this horrendous act of murder as it is? That is for you to decide. Perrine’s Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense, Eleventh Edition. Thomas R. Arp, Greg Johnson. Senior Publisher: Lyn Uhl. Publisher: Michael Rosenberg. Development Ed: Helen Triller. Assistant Ed: Erin Bosco. Boston, Ma. Years Published: 2006, 2009, and 2012. Shakespeare, William. Othello. Pages 1276-1369.