Example of Extended essay and Shakespeare study coursework

An example of my coursework which got me an A grade

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Exploration of the motivations for revenge in Othello, Hamlet and Frankenstein
The exploration of the motivations for revenge, which pertain to Iago, Hamlet and the monster
from Shakespeare's Othello, Hamlet and Shelley's Frankenstein respectively is a fascinating
title. It allows a deeper understanding of each text to be gained, with the psyche of the central
characters unravelling, as the allusions, extended metaphors and themes which influence
their characterization, and thus their motives for revenge come to light.
The motives of Iago are of significant importance, comparative to those of Hamlet and the
monster. Once they are grasped, a shred of humanity becomes more apparent within
Shakespeare's character. Iago is commonly perceived as "Absolute evil", (Bradley, 1991) in
the eyes of A.C Bradley, many critics and audiences. Other critics however, argue that Iago
has suffered a great pain, as Iago is made to suffer the fate of the very "knee ­ crooking
knave" that he detests. A feeling of grief, sorrow and anger is also present in the hearts of
Frankenstein and Hamlet, despite this their motives retain a certain consistency, whereas
the motives of Iago continually change between the actions of a devil and a man well and truly
scorned.
Unlike A.C Bradley, B.J Paris believes that, Iago has understandable motives for revenge. He
is of the view that, Iago embarks upon revenge with the motive of "destroying the traditional
value system" (Paris, 1984), in which kind honourable behaviour is highly regarded. Iago aims
to exploit the virtues of Othello, Desdemona and Cassio to reveal the futility of their virtuous
nature, which makes them vulnerable to destruction. In doing so, Iago is able to justify to the
audience, and more importantly to himself that, in the harsh reality of the world selfish evil
behaviour is needed in order to survive and succeed. Such views through adopting Horneyan
analysis add more definition to Shakespeare's Iago. They go beyond the view held by some
audiences that Iago merely serves a dramatic role, as a "descendant of evil" (Siegel, n.d.) for
such psychoanalytical criticism portrays Iago's revenge as having deep psychological origins.
Othello is immediately absorbed in the motifs of hatred and revenge, standing at the forefront
of the plot with Iago stating his disdain for Cassio and Othello, which quickly manifests into
his motivations for revenge. This portrays the theme of revenge as extremely central to the
plot, as it immediately foreshadows the play.
Iago's motives are initially to punish Cassio for stealing his promotion and against Othello for
not promoting him. Iago's speech in Act 1 Scene 1 reveals his philosophy on life, in which he
confesses that he is the type of servant that, "throwing but shows of service on their Lords,
do[es] thrive well by them". The speech is rather dramatic as within it Iago reveals an ounce
of truth, making it known that he deceives those around him, in order to gain what he wants.
Structurally, the speech mimics the behaviour of the deceptive servants, as they appear to be
indistinguishable from "honest knaves", slithering behind the honest servants as they wait to
strike. The sibilance of the "shows of service", creates a hissing sound often associated with
snakes, animals which symbolise evil and treachery appropriately describing Iago's most
apparent characteristics.
Iago is motivated to pursue revenge against Othello, as in his opinion he has exploited Iago,
contrary to Iago's aim of exploiting him with "shows of service". This cause's Iago immense
pain as not only does he feel he has been "cashiered" by Othello, but the "honest knave"
Cassio who should be exploited has instead been rewarded for his obedience and loyalty
thus disproving Iago's warped philosophy. The metaphor of being "cashiered" also reveals
Iago's state of mind he has a low opinion of himself, as a commodity and nothing more, to
gain the promotion would have also given him a much needed sense of selfworth, making
the audience pity him.
The nature of Hamlet's revenge and the overwhelming influence of the Ghost upon his
motive, gives his revenge a sense of moral duty, while Iago's motives, fail to evoke such

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Exploration of the motivations for revenge in Othello, Hamlet and Frankenstein
emotion in the audience for they partly stem from spite and a sense of mistreatment. The
Ghost is a major factor contributing to Hamlet's motivations for revenge, as it reveals that
"The serpent that did sting thy father's life, now wears his crown".…read more

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Exploration of the motivations for revenge in Othello, Hamlet and Frankenstein
why he is isolated from those around him when he means them no harm, further enraging
him against Frankenstein for creating a being that has no quality of life.
Shelley carefully constructs a physical description of the monster with "a shrivelled
complexion and straight black lips" allowing his looks to reflect the inner torment that he will
later come to feel in the novel.…read more

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Exploration of the motivations for revenge in Othello, Hamlet and Frankenstein
which exhibits Iago's mental torment at Othello for failing to promote him, thus Iago feels that
he has no choice but to make Othello suffer the full extent of his rage and pain as stated by
B.J Paris.
The motivations for Hamlet's revenge are more greatly understood, when the Biblical
allusions within the play are taken into account.…read more

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Exploration of the motivations for revenge in Othello, Hamlet and Frankenstein
his family and friends, Frankenstein became closely attached to his creature, for they both
experienced and were bound by the same sombre emotions of being solitary and alone.
Such an ending is diametrically opposed to the peace and tranquillity, which comes upon
Hamlet's mind, as he embraces the will of God and ultimately fate as he lets go of the façade
of free will that disrupts his revenge.…read more

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