Question: Ultimately, in this Shakespearean drama, it is the representation of intense human relationships that captivates audiences. Explore the representation of at least ONE intense human relationship in Othello, evaluating its significance in the play as a whole.
Othello is an Elizabethan Shakespearean tragedy written by William Shakespeare in the early seventeenth century. The play is constructed to evocativelythe sixteen hundreds. contrast (through setting, staging and language) the social order imposed by The play first takes place on a street in Venice to the martial law and the breakdown of relationships in the outpost of Cyprus.
The protagonistand tells the story of, the a powerful but culturally insecure Moorish general, Othello, defines his military and personal relationships whose life is ruined by histhrough an obsession of with reputation and, honour and the convictions of the deceitful soldier, and Othello’s single-minded friend, Iago.
There are many extreme human relationships between lovers, friends, masters and their servants present in Othello, such as the jeopardised military relationship between old friends Othello and Iago and the intensity of Othello and his wife Desdemona’s relationship.
Othello and Desdemona’s relationship is based on admiration and pity rather than love;, eventually, the destruction of their relationship, due to Iago’s revenge for his own sundered relationship, leads to the downfall of Othello and the determination of many other characters’ lives. It is this wider impact of intense relationships and the fact that Ttheir relationship is unstable and unsuited based on racial difference and Othello being an outsider to Venetian society that captivates audiences and resonates beyond the play’s original context. The lack of positive growth within Othello and Desdemona throughout the play ultimately represents the tragedy, common to the controversial nature of Shakespeare’s writing.
Desdemona and Othello’s marriage is contentious; it is through Othello’s hamartia of idealised love for Desdemona and his credulity that leads to his downfall. In Act 1 Scene 3 Shakespeare explores the passionate and extreme nature of Othello and Desdemona’s relationship, where their elopement expressesing the deep love the naïve Desdemona has for the worldly exotic Othello, as she is willing to betray her own father and social mores for him. Desdemona’s loyalty to Othello is evident in this scene but is also questioned;, her father Brabantio says ‘Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see. She has deceived her father, and may thee’.
The imperative voice and rhyme suggesting the possibility that Desdemona will be unfaithful to her husband and also foreshadowsing how Iago will twist the dependent nature of their relationship against them. Shakespeare highlights the obsessively passionate nature of Othello through the secrecy of this marriage and through lines hyperbole such as ‘My life upon her faith!-Honest Iago’ introducing his hamartia and their extreme relationship. F R Leavis, writing in 1937 after the first wave of feminism and in a post-Freudian era of a growing appreciation of psychology, exonerates Desdemona for the failure of the relationship, believing instead “the tragedy may fairly be said to be Othello’s character in action”. He perceives that audiences continue to be intrigued by the tragedy because “Othello didn’t really know Desdemona…his love is composed very largely of self ignorance of self as well as ignorance of her . . . it must be much more a matter of self-centred and self-regarding satisfactions—pride, sensual possessiveness, appetite, love of loving—than he suspects”. This is evident in the soliloquy: ” I am abused, and my relief Must be to loathe her . . . I had rather be a toad, /And live upon the vapour of a dungeon,/Than keep a corner in the thing I love /For others’ uses . . .” [LTQ]
Iago’s wit manipulates Othello’s passionate nature and his relationship with Desdemona, through reputation, to use as a weapon against him. Iago, through Othello’s credulity, also manipulates the innocent actions of Desdemona into something to make Othello jealous. Iago is ironically known through the epithetas ‘honest’ and his relationship with Othello is built on trust through their shared experiences in the military. The symbolic handkerchief is used as a ploy, when planted in Cassio’s bedchamber by Iago, to make it seem as if Desdemona is not loyal to Othello. Through this simple plot deviceaction, Iago is able to twist Desdemona and Othello’s relationship into one fused with jealousy and rage.
This intense relationship between the two lovers hastily becomes a weapon for evil and is exploited as Othello’s weakness, due to his belief that his personal identity is in his reputation ‘I have done the state some service, and they know’t,” as though he thinks that his reputation for service should be weighed against his crime in Act 5 Scene 2, he then changes his mind, sayingequivocating, “No more of that” and continues on to say how his reputation will remain, as an honourable man. Through alliteration, Iago describes Othello’s obsession with reputation, ‘as loving his own pride and purpose’. This identifies to the reader audience where Othello’s jealousy comes from;, it is through his reputation as a honourable military general that he is proud and believes he has purpose.
The incompatibility of military heroism and love is evident throughout the course of the play. Desdemona is the representation of continuity of values and an innocent, flawless Venetian woman, however Othello is portrayed as a cultural and racial outsider in Venice. Desdemona’s innocence and faithfulness is expressed in the female intimacy of Act 4 scene 3, when learning, through the incredulous Emilia, that not all women are faithful in their marriage, ‘tell me, Emilia—That there be women do abuse their husbands in such gross kind?’. It is through this innocence that the reader audience gains insight as to why Desdemona doesn’t appear to have a clueis ignorant that Othello suspects her of infidelity – for Desdemona, the idea is simply unthinkable. Desdemona’s purity is often juxtaposed against the rather racist attachment of a bestial aspect to Othello’s character; ‘you’ll have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse’ is Iago’s graphic miscegenation tosays Brabantio. Throughout the course of the play, and the effect of purifying Desdemona to a greater degree, particularly after we are introduced to the virtuous Othello, the reader audience comes to the realisation that Desdemona and Othello aren’t made for each other; nevertheless, Desdemona seems to be drawn to him even now, after experiencing his hamartia of jealousy and being struck by Othello in public, because of his exotic qualities. This is a further example of Desdemona’s continuity of values and purity. In the final act, Othello and Desdemona’s intense, but fatally flawed, relationship is exhibited for the last time through the murder of Desdemona. This action not only shows the end of the extreme, passionate relationship, but also is the defining fall from grace of Othello that was brought about through Iago’s manipulation of the relationship. Othello is torn between his extreme love and the intention to kill his wife because of her presumed infidelity.
As Desdemona begs for her life and her innocence, Othello is only fuelled more by anger and jealousy. The most symbolic part of the end scene is after being killed, Desdemona wakes briefly, protecting her husband even as he strangled her saying voying ‘Nobody, I myself’ when asked who killed her. Othello then kills himself, realising his mistake and feeling guilty for murdering his innocent wife. It is through Othello being too literal and failing to penetrate others complexities that he doesn’t appreciate nor understand other characters in the play. This serves as another downfall of the main character, signifying lack of positive growth within Othello.
There are many intense and extreme relationships between characters to emphasise for audiences the depth of tragedy within Othello. Iago and Othello’s relationship is built on honesty and trust through shared experiences in the military force, ironically destroyed by ‘honest’ Iago’s manipulation of Desdemona and Othello’s relationship. Their intense and passionate relationship develops throughout the play’s course from ordered to out of orderchaos as it is torn apart by malicious schemes, such as the symbolic handkerchief, set in place by Iago. It is through Othello being too literal and failing to penetrate others complexities that he doesn’t appreciate nor understand other characters in the play. The relationship’s end signifies Othello’s final fall from grace as he murders his wife, to punish her presumed infidelity, and then commits suicide, realising the wrongs he has done and feeling guilty about murdering his wife. The incompatibility of military heroism and love is evident throughout the play. Desdemona and Othello’s relationship is unsuited and built on the basis of pity and admiration rather than love, developing the tragedy.
Cite this Othello and Desdemonas Relationship
Othello and Desdemonas Relationship. (2016, Oct 30). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/othello-and-desdemonas-relationship/