William Shakespeare's Othello

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‘Othello’ begins with a meeting between Iago and Roderigo outside Brabantio’s house. We are taken into the plot through the two men’s animated discussion about the fact that Othello has eloped with Desdemona of whom has captured Roderigo’s heart. We learn of this affair as an act of stolen love or ‘witchcraft’ on Othello’s part. Othello is portrayed very badly in this scene and Iago’s wit makes him truly believable. The fact that Othello is written about as a ‘burglar’ or ‘foul thief’ suggests to the reader that he is not worthy of Desdemona. However, our assumptions are foiled when Othello is finally asked for his side of the story. ‘True I have married her. That is the top and bottom of my offence, no more . . . I won his daughter’. Perhaps it is his version of the story, the method by which he attained this ‘treasured gift’ that warms our hearts to the ‘black ram’. It is easy for one to sympathise with the beautiful tale of love. How she ‘loved me for the dangers I had passed, and I loved her.’ Othello won her through his impressive stories and adventures he encompassed when he was travelling. The whole ordeal of the elopement serves to indicate the fact that there must be a strong bond between the two characters. Desdemona and Othello both lost extremely good reputations. Desdemona, ‘a modest maid of such a still and quiet disposition that she blushed at her own shadow’. The fact that Desdemona ‘In spite of her youth, her country, her reputation, everything!’ eloped with Othello is in itself a very ‘bold’ action of love. Desdemona lost her father’s respect the one to whom ‘gave me life’ and to whom she was ‘eternally grateful’. ‘Valiant Othello’ also had a good reputation and it was his good luck that he was ‘vital for state business’. Perhaps the admiration Venice had for him disappeared. The language used between Othello and Desdemona to profess their love uses images of one’s soul and heaven to suggest they are in harmony. ‘To see you here before me. Oh my soul’s joy! If after every tempest come such calms, may the winds blow till they have wakened death, and let the labouring bark climb hills of seas, Olympus-high, and duck again as low as hell’s from heaven! If I were now to die, ‘Twere now to be most happy; for I fear My soul hath her content so absolute that not another comfort like to this succeeds in unknown fate’’ Othello is saying that his happiness is so complete that he’ll never again equal it so he wouldn’t care if he dies now.

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