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The Theme of Love – Othello

In William Shakespeare’s Othello the Theme of Love is very important.  The main themes conveyed are: Love can be used against you/ love can be manipulated, and love is blinding (unconditional love).  The theme of love can be used against you is best shown in Othello and Desdemona, Cassio and Bianca, Roderigo and Desdemona, and Iago, Roderigo, and Brabantio. The theme of love is blinding is best shown in Desdemona and Othello, Emilia and Iago, and Brabantio and Desdemona.

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Love can be used against you/ Love can be manipulated.

Iago uses Othello’s love for Desdemona against him. Iago hints to Othello that she deceived her father so she could deceive him. \”She did deceive her father, marrying you, and when she seemed to shake, and fear your looks,     She loved them most.\” (III,iii, 204-206) Like human nature is Othello goes through events which now have answers, \”She’s gone: I am abused, and my relief must be loathe her. O curse of marriage, That we can call these delicate creatures ours And not their appetites! I had rather be a toad And live upon the vapour of a dungeon Than keep a corner in the thing I love For other’s uses.\” (III,iii, 264 – 270)

Othello is getting angry: \”Villain, be sure thou prove my love a whore; Be sure of it: give me the ocular proof,\” (III, iii, 356-357)

Othello hears Iago’s predictions: \”All my fond love thus do I blow to heaven: Tis gone. Arise black vengeance, from the hollow hell!\” (III, iii, 442 – 443)

Othello believing Iago: \”Damn her, lewd minx! O damn her, damn her! Come go with me apart.\” (III, iii, 472 – 473) She then tells him she is a virgin. \”No, as I am a Christian. To preserve this vessel for my lord From any other foul unlawful touch, Be not to be a strumpet, I am none.\” (IV, ii, 82 – 84)

Desdemona then turns to Iago. \”O good Iago, What shall I do to win my lord again? Good friend, go to him; for, by this light of heaven, I know not how I lost him.\” (IV, ii, 148 – 150)

Othello feels guilty because he found out she was innocent. \”Soft you; a word or two before you go. I have done the state some service and they know it: No more of that. I pray you in your letters When you shall these unlucky deeds relate Speak of me as I am: nothing extenuate, Nor set down aught in malice. Then must you speak of one that loved not wisely, but too well; of one not easily jealous but, being wrought, …. (V, ii, 334 – 352)

Iago uses Cassio’s love for Bianca against him. He tells Othello that he will question Cassio about Desdemona, when, in fact, he is questioning Cassio about Bianca. This further pushes Othello to insanity and wanting Cassio killed.

\”Now will I question Cassio of Bianca, … He, when he hears of her, cannot refrain/From the excess of laughter…/As he shall smile, Othello shall go mad …\” (IV, i, 93-100)

Iago and Roderigo use Brabantio’s love to serve their own means. Brabantio’s love for his daughter, Desdemona, is used by Iago and Roderigo in the hopes of getting Othello in trouble and winning Roderigo favour.

\”I am one, sir, that comes to tell you, your daughter/and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs…. O heaven/ How got she out? O treason of the blood!\” (I, i, 115 – 170)

\”Call up my brother – O would you had had  her -/some one way or another.\” (I, i, 176 – 177)

Iago uses/manipulates Roderigo’s love for Desdemona. Iago consistently tells Roderigo that Desdemona will fall in love with him if he continues to do as Iago tells him to. Iago manipulates Roderigo’s love to get him to do Iago’s dirty work and to leech money off Roderigo.

\”I say,/put money in thy purse. It cannot be that Desdemona/should long continue her love to the Moor – / put money in thy purse – nor he his to her … She must change for youth: when she is sated with his body she will find the error of her choice … thou shalt enjoy her ….\” (I, iii, 138 – 153)

\”Very nature will instruct her in it and compel her to some second/choice. Now, sir, this granted – as it is a most pregnant and unforced position – who stands so eminently/ in the degree of this fortune as Cassio does? … / Besides, the knave is handsome, young, and hath all those requisites in him that folly and green minds look / after. A pestilent complete knave; and the woman hath found him already.\” (II, i, 227 – 242)

Quote for Iago using Roderigo’s love for Desdemona to make him do his dirty work: \”But, Roderigo, if/ thou hast in thee indeed, which I have greater/reason to believe now than ever – I mean purpose/courage, and valour – this night show it. If thou the/next night following enjoy not Desdemona, take me/from this world with treachery …\” (IV, ii, 209 -214)

Quote for Iago taking money from Roderigo by manipulating his love of Desdemona: \”Live Roderigo/He calls me to a restitution large/Of gold and jewels, that I bobbed from him/ As gifts to Desdemona.\” (V, i, 14 – 17)

Love is blinding (unconditional Love)

Othello loves Desdemona so much he risks his life for her: \”Send for the lady to the Sagittary, And let her speak of me before her father, If you do find me foul in her report, The trust, the office I do hold you Not only take away, but let your sentence Even fall upon my life.\” (I, iii, 115 – 120)

Desdemona wants to go with Othello. \”I saw Othello’s visage in his mind And to his honours and his valiant parts Did I my soul and fortunes consecrate. So that, dear lords, if I be left behind A mouth of peace, and he go to the war, The rites for which I love him are bereft me, And I a heavy interim shall support By his clear absence. Let me go with him.\” (I, iii, 249 – 256)

Othello does not give in to what Iago says at first. \”Excellent wretch! Perclition catch my soul, But I do love thee! And when I love thee not, Chaos is come again.\” (III, iii, 90 -92)

\”Think’st  thou I’d make a life of jealousy, To follow still the changes of the moon with fresh suspicions? No, to be once in doubt Is once to be resolved. Exchange me for a goat. When I shall turn the business of my soul To such exsufflicate and blown surmises, Matching thy interence. Tis not to make me jealous. To say my wife is fair, loves company, Is free of speech, sings, plays, and dances well: Where virtue is, these are more virtuous. Not from mine own weakness will I draw The smallest fear of doubt of her revolt, For she had eyes and chose me. No, Iago, I’ll see before I doubt; when I doubt, prove; And on the proof, there is no more but this: Away at once with love or jealousy!\” (III, iii, 175 – 190)

Desdemona lost the handkerchief: \”I ne’er saw this before. Sure, there’s some wonder in this handkerchief: I am most unhappy in the loss of it.\” (III, iii, 93 – 94)

Othello strikes her: \”Devil!\” He strikes her (IV, i, 236) After, Desdemona says: \”I will not stay to offend you.\” (IV, i, 244)

She then asks what is wrong. \”Upon my knees, what doth your speech impart? I understand a fury in your words, But not the words.\” (IV, ii, 30 -32) and then again: \”To whom, my lord? With whom? How am I false?\” (IV, ii, 39)

She stays with him and wants to help: \”Alas, the heavy day! Why do you weep? Am I the motive of these tears, my lord? If haply you my father do suspect An instrument of this your calling back, Lay not your blame on me. If you have lost him, I have lost him too.\” (IV, ii, 41 – 46)

She obeys his orders (out of love) \”It was his bidding: therefore, good Emilia, Give me my nightly wearing, and adieu. We must not now displease him.\” (IV, iii, 14 – 16)

She feels she can learn from suffering: \”Good night, good night, God me such uses send, Not to pick bad from bad, but from bad mend!\” (IV, iii, 102 – 103)

Desdemona is scared that Othello will kill her, but she still trusts him. \”And yet I fear you: for you’re fatal than When your eyes roll so. Why I should fear I know not, Since guiltiness I know not; but yet I feel I fear.\” (V, ii, 37 – 39)

Desdemona asks Othello not to kill her but she dies anyway. \”O banish me, my lord, but kill me not!\” (V, ii, 79) \”Kill me tomorrow: let me live tonight!\” (V, ii, 81) \”O Lord, Lord, Lord!\” (V, ii, 84) \”Nobody – I myself – farewell. Commend me to my kind lord – O farewell!\” (V, ii, 125 – 126)

Emilia is blinded by love for her husband Iago; this love causes her to disregard her morals and do things she knows are wrong for him. Emilia gives Iago Desdemona’s handkerchief even though she knows how important it is to Desdemona.

\”I am glad I have found this napkin:/ This was her first remembrance from the Moor./ My wayward husband hath a hundred times/ Wooed me to steal it; … I’ll have the work taken out, / And give’t Iago. / What he will do with it, heaven knows, not I: / I nothing, but to please his fantasy.\” (III, iii, 287 – 296)

Emilia’s love blinds her from Iago’s true nature. She disregards his vulgarness towards women. She also disregards how badly he treats her.

\”A good wench! Give it me.\” (III, iii, 311)

\”You rise to play and go to bed to work.\” (II, i, 114)

Brabantio is blinded by love for his daughter. He believes that she is an innocent child and would never marry the Moor’/Othello of her own free will. He is so angered by the imagery that Iago gave him, he wants Othello killed.

\”Damned as thou art, thou hast enchanted her./ For I’ll refer me to all things of sense,/ If she in chains of magic were not bound …/ So opposite to marriage that she shunned/ the wealthy curled darlings of our nation, / Would over have …/ Run from her guardage to the sooty bosom? Of such a thing … to fear not to delight.\” (I, ii, 63 – 71)

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