Monday, January 25, 2010

Othello and Desdemona: A Love of Adventure

A truly remarkable work, Othello by Shakespeare illustrates many different themes among which is the one of love. Othello and Desdemona both show strong feelings for each other but it is curios to find out how such two different people fell that way towards each other.
The origin of the mutual affection is revealed in Act I Scene 3; it is here that Othello gives the reason why Desdemona fell in love with him. In the high-society setting of Desdemona’s surroundings she finds Othello’s tales of far lands and strange people most enchanting and different from her everyday life. The lines “But still the house affairs would draw her thence, /Which ever as she could with haste dispatch” demonstrate Desdemona’s desire to hear more of Othello’s stories about his past. The whole passage is crucial to understanding both characters as it reveals much about their psyche as well as why they behave as they do. Othello has had a hard life having met “cannibals that each other eat” and men with heads beneath their shoulders. Shakespeare demonstrates her desire to know of Othello’s past through the clever use of the adjective “almost implying her selfishness in listening to his account:
She’d come again, and with a greedy ear
Devour up my discourse; which I was observing (Act I Sc. 3 ln148-149)
The use of “devour” emphasizes this same characteristic and illustrates Desdemona’s increasing affection for Othello. The passage reveals Othello’s past and gives insight to many of his character’s traits such as easy jealousy and easy loss of trust. For somebody who has had a hard life such as him it is natural to come to judge and be manipulated easily. In addition, Othello himself had been little exposed to the high-class manipulations of people such as Iago. It is a war of a different kind.
Desdemona strongly hints that she has feelings for Othello and she wants to make certain he knows it:
She wished I had not heard it, yet she wished
That heaven had made her such a man. She thanked me,
And bade me, if I had a friend that loved her,
I should but teach him how to tell my story,
And that would woo her. (Act I Sc. 3 ln 161-165)
In the end of the passage it is clearly stated that Desdemona loves Othello for the dangers he has passed since he is so different from everyone else.
Othello’s theme of love is truly a complex one. Intertwined in the fates of so many and so different personas it shapes the faiths of all characters in the play. Desdemona’s love leads eventually to her death, and Othello’s partial insecurity opens a door to jealousy and rage. Both character’s traits and past experiences foreshadow the bloody future that is to come.