Othello: Religious Motifs

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Relationships in which people allow themselves to be manipulated through their weaknesses are truly flawed and have a great potential for failure. These relationships can become tainted by jealousy and rumours nurtured by deceitful individuals. Such is the situation in Shakespeare’s Othello, which depicts the tragic downfall of an apparently perfect relationship. Shakespeare uses images of heaven in the beginning of the play to emphasize the seemingly flawless love between Othello and Desdemona. Furthermore, as the play progresses, the juxtaposition between heaven and hell is used to represent the manipulative powers of Iago over Othello revealing the weaknesses of Desdemona and Othello’s relationship. As a result, the twisted heaven and hell imagery used near the end of Othello reflects the eventual break down of Othello and Desdemona’s marriage. Thus, in Shakespeare’s Othello, the connotation of the religious motifs throughout are used to develop the idea that even the most loving couples have their flaws leaving them vulnerable to the destructive powers of jealousy brought on by the manipulative influences of others, resulting in suspicion and ultimately betrayal. The seemingly perfect love between Othello and Desdemona is initially emphasized by Shakespeare’s use of heavenly images. Through images of heaven, Othello’s passionate love for Desdemona is revealed. After being accused by Brabantio of using enchantments to win over his daughter’s love, Othello swears against it assuring their love is true: And till she come, as truly as to heaven

I do confess the vices of my blood,
So justly to your grave ears I’ll present
How did I thrive in this fair lady’s love,
And she in mine (1.3.122-126).
Othello swears on heaven that his love for Desdemona and her love for him is not a result of witchcraft, but the result of an honest love for one another. The image of heaven is used to emphasize that Othello believes that the love between him and Desdemona is...
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