Redemption in Death in Othello

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Redemption in Death in Othello

The brilliance of a tragedy lies in its ability to maintain its moral and the values it explores even in the tragic ending or in the downfall of its heroes. William Shakespeare does just this Othello, so quintessentially that the deaths in the end do not only refrain from undermining or canceling out the virtues of the play, but they actually restore them to the deceased, who have died because they have lost them. In this play, love, loyalty, and honesty are of foremost importance in the human condition, and when those are questioned or lost, chaos ensues. The tragedy lies in the fact that the truth is revealed only too late, and because of this only death can restore those values. The loss or misunderstanding of the major virtues in Othello lead to the tragic ending, but because Desdemona retains these virtues into her death, she allows them to be restored, and when the truth comes out, Othello dies to reclaim his honor and complete this restoration.

The love between Othello, the Moor, and Desdemona, his wife, is strong from the outset of the play, and Othello relies on this love and on Desdemona’s loyalty. When Desdemona’s father, Brabantio, brings him before the senators, accusing him of corrupting Desdemona, Othello is so confident in her love for him that he offers his life if she says she does not love him: “If you do find me foul in her report, /…let your sentence/ Even fall upon my life” (I, iii, 117-19). He reaffirms this when Brabantio suggests that Desdemona will deceive him. Othello responds, “My life upon her faith” (I, iii, 289) Twice, then, he has trusted his life to Desdemona’s loyalty. This not only emphasizes his love for her, but also his reliance upon her...

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