Othello and Desdemona vs. Romeo and Juliet

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Othello and Desdemona vs. Romeo and Juliet
Othello and Desdemona are similar and different from Romeo and Juliet in several ways, both as couples, and as individuals. The circumstances they face and the nature of their characters share similarities, and so do the choices they make, but the other characters in the respective plays, and the key differences in Othello and Romeo's dispositions cause them to go down separate roads, even if the end stage is the same.

Desdemona and Juliet are interesting, not because they are portrayed as intrinsically interesting, because they aren’t, but because of the way that they respond to the pressure created by the clash of family and love in their lives. Neither Desdemona nor Juliet suffer from deep moral flaws, conflicted personalities or any of the other characteristics that make many of the other characters interesting, but they share the simple dilemma of having to choose between family and love. Juliet is caught on one side of the Capulet - Montague feud, and her lover, Romeo, on the other. She is initially torn between the two, correct in thinking that she can only choose one, but she, of course, soon chooses Romeo. Desdemona faces the same choice; when asked to testify against Othello in front of the Duke of Venice on lines 182-191, she declares her allegiance to Othello rather than to her father Brabantio, though she “perceive(s) here a divided duty” (Shakespeare I.iii.183). In doing so she alienates her father, causing him to begrudge her rather than Othello, and stating “I am glad at soul I have no other child” (Shakespeare I.iii.198). As Juliet betrays her whole family in loving an enemy, Desdemona betrays her father and his innate racism by marrying a moor.

Othello and Romeo share far fewer similarities than do Desdemona and Juliet. In fact, Romeo, the sentimental lover boy is almost the perfect opposite to the stiff, warlike Othello. While Romeo has no problem professing his love, and is very confident in an...
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