Essay on Othello, By William Shakespeare

Essay on Othello, By William Shakespeare

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Othello, the Shakespearean tragedy which features Othello the moor as the main character, is a Shakespearean play rich for interpretation. Othello follows the story of Othello and his wife Desdemona as their story, unfortunately, ends in tragedy, murder, and suicide. Due to the fact that Othello is black, he is susceptible to the racial stereotypes that Shakspeare has built for him. Othello is originally introduced as an honorable and dignified man but throughout the play, he slowly and then rapidly deteriorates into an almost animal-like state. While many could argue that Othello 's madness originates from Iago 's constant manipulation, it can be claimed that Desdemona played a significant part in the deterioration of Othello’s character. It can be asserted that Desdemona 's subservient demeanor throughout Othello, not only highlights Othello’s savagery but also amplifies it.
Desdemona is first introduced to the audience when Othello proclaims “I love the gentle Desdemona” (1.1.25). From this first introduction, one can infer that Desdemona, as Othello describes her, is gentle. While many could argue that this is an over-interpretation of Desdemona’s introduction, Shakespearean introductions are very important. It is clear to see Shakespeare 's intended interpretation of Desdemona when comparing her introduction to Katharina’s from The Taming of The Shrew. In The Taming of The Shrew Katharina is first mentioned by her father when he is addressing Tranio and Lucentio: “Gentlemen, importune me no farther,/.../That is, not to bestow my youngest daughter/Before I have a husband for the elder. /If either of you both love Katherina” (1.1.48-52). Katharina is first introduced as someone unwanted and unloved whereas Desdemona’s first i...


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...in Shakespeare paints a convincing picture, of the innocent young Desdemona and the monstrous moor who manages to lose his temper over a silly handkerchief. If one were to imagine this scene with a less subservient Desdemona, one could understand why Othello is so enraged. Cook continually references the problems with Desdemona 's character by stating that, “She is criticized for her rebelliousness, but also blamed for her passivity.” (187). I disagree with Cook’s assertion that Desdemona is in any way rebellious. However I believe Cook is correct in regards to Desdemona’s unassertive nature. I do find myself blaming Desdemona “for her passivity.” (Cook 187) simply because Othello’s anger would certainly have been more justified had Desdemona acted in some way suspicious, but because she remained true to her innocent character, all one can see is the raging Othello.

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