Language and structure

Scene endings

For dramas played on an open stage, with no closing curtain to signify a change of location or time, it was common Elizabethan practice to signify the end of a scene by using a rhyming couplet. (See Othello: theatrical context > Design of theatres.) So in Othello, excluding two very short and inconsequential sections where we might expect new actors to be arriving on stage to continue the action even as the previous speech is coming to a close, seven of the thirteen scenes end with iambic rhyming couplets. (Occasionally Shakespeare also employed this technique after a passage of high drama or rich poetic imagery, to allow the audience to ‘process’ the ideas as it were, before moving on.)

The completion of tragedy

Inevitably, the final rhyming couplet of the play’s last scene carried more dramatic weight. In tragedies, the couplet might offer a moral comment on the preceding action, as with Romeo and Juliet
For never was a story of more woe,
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.      
Alternatively, the final couplet served to ‘tie up’ the events which had just taken place on stage and re-establish the continuity of ‘normal’ life. This also allowed the audience to start to let go of their emotional engagement with the drama and prepare for the humdrum daily life of London. Thus in Othello, the respectable Lodovico explains the desperate events which have just taken place:
Myself will straight aboard, and to the state
This heavy act with heavy heart relate.     
Scan and go

Scan on your mobile for direct link.