Othello: True Love and Self-love

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Othello: True Love and Self-love

The William Shakespeare tragic play Othello manifests the virtue of love in all its variegated types through the assorted good and bad characters interacting with each other.

H. S. Wilson in his book of literary criticism, On the Design of Shakespearean Tragedy, discusses the love of the Moor for his beloved even at the time of her murder:

And when he comes to execute justice upon Desdemona, as he thinks, he has subdued his passion so that he is a compound of explosiveness tenderness. Utterly convinced of Desdemona’s guilt and of the necessity of killing her (“Yet she must die, else she’ll betray more men”), he yet loves her:

This sorrow’s heavenly;

It strikes where it doth love.(55)

In the volume Shakespeare and Tragedy John Bayley explains that there is both love and self-love in the play (201). Initially the play presents a very distorted type of love. Act 1 Scene 1 shows Roderigo, generous in his gifts to the ancient, questioning Iago’s love for the former, whose concern has been the wooing of Desdemona. Roderigo construes Iago’s love for him as based on the ancient’s hatred for the Moor. Thus the wealthy suitor says accusingly, “Thou told'st me thou didst hold him in thy hate.” In order to prove his love for Roderigo, Iago asserts in detail the reasons for his hatred of Othello, who has given the lieutenancy to Michael Cassio, a Florentine.

Secondly, Iago shows his love for his wealthy friend by rousing from sleep Brabantio, the father of Desdemona. Once the senator has been awakened, Iago makes a series of loud, crude, bawdy allegations against both the general and Desdemona. David Bevington in William Shakespeare: Four Tr...

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...His Carpet. N.p.: n.p., 1970.

Gardner, Helen. “Othello: A Tragedy of Beauty and Fortune.” Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Reprint from “The Noble Moor.” British Academy Lectures, no. 9, 1955.

Mack, Maynard. Everybody’s Shakespeare: Reflections Chiefly on the Tragedies. Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 1993.

Pitt, Angela. “Women in Shakespeare’s Tragedies.” Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Reprint from Shakespeare’s Women. N.p.: n.p., 1981.

Shakespeare, William. Othello. In The Electric Shakespeare. Princeton University. 1996. http://www.eiu.edu/~multilit/studyabroad/othello/othello_all.html No line nos.

Wilson, H. S. On the Design of Shakespearean Tragedy. Canada: University of Toronto Press, 1957.

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