Love and Othello
Human identity is one of the complex sides of human beings. Because there is no single identity, it is an unsoluble issue. People are different in terms of their natures. This has been one of the important elements that writers use in their works for years. William Shakespeare was one of them. He analyzed human identity very well and shaped his characters according to his researches. His analysis of humankinds are well-presented in his tragedies. Even though they have bad deeds, tragic characters in Shakespearean plays are not evil in their natures. Most scholars agree that being tragic does not mean being cruel and evil. R. N. Hallstead and John Arthos mention innocent and pure soul of Othello in their articles. This theory can be analyzed with the help of one of the important characters in one of the important plays by William Shakespeare: Othello, The Moor of Venice.
According to Aristotelian perspective, a tragedy has some qualities to be a perfect one. First of all, there has to be a noble character that is in the top and after an important decision-making process, the situation of this noble character changes. It is called ‘reversal of the situation’ which means the tragic hero experiences the fall down. S/he is no longer that person that s/he used to before. The character loses everything that belongs to her/his and suffers because of the miserable condition. However; men must suffer to be wise. The noble hero is now aware of everything and the mistake s/he did but it means nothing. There is no coming back, no returning or healing from that situation.
Othello is brave and successful soldier. His tragic fault is being excessive jealous of his wife, Desdemona. At the end of the play, Othello kills Desdemona by thinking she cheats on him, which is not true. However; he does not kill his wife due to the dark side of his personality. Actually, it can be understood from the conversations that Othello loves Desdemona. He cannot bear to stay away from her that’s why he would like to see Desdemona by his side in Cyprus where he goes for fighting. He calls her “the joy of my soul”:
It gives me wonder great as my content
To see you here before me! O my soul’s joy. (174)
It can be concluded from there that Othello wants to say that his soul is not happy if it is not with Desdemona. Desdemona is the one who makes Othello’s soul joyful. R. N. Hallstead describes Othello’s love for Desdemona in her article like this: Othello is the story of an idolatrous love which comes to an inevitable tragic end; the hero is a man of tragic stature who loved "not wisely but too well". After the consummation of his marriage, Othello, as Iago points out and as he himself confesses, makes Desdemona the source of purpose, meaning, and value in his life. This is to say that he worships her, that she becomes his “god”. (Hallstead, 107)
According to her ideas, to Othello, Desdemona is like a God. That is the way of Othello’s love. He puts his lover to the centre of his life and love. Othello loves very much and well but without thinking and not wisely. John Arthos comments to these lines from the play, as well: Before he met Desdemona Othello had achieved a wonderful equilibrium to the very culmination of his career, but even this balance, this self-sufficiency was enriched by the joy Desdemona brought him. In his union with her Othello felt none of the constriction of one who is owned and on the contrary seemed to know a limitless freedom hitherto unimaginable. (Arthos, 103) After these words that full of love, Othello kisses his wife with great pleasure. Besides, Othello trusts his wife, as well. In the very beginning of the play when the father of Desdemona says:
Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see:
She has deceived her father, and may thee.
The answer of Othello to him is like:
My life upon her faith. (154)
Brabantio wants to warn Othello saying if she...
Cited: Arthos, John. “The Fall of Othello”. Shakespeare Quarterly 9.2 (1958): 93- 104.
Hallstead, R. N. “Idolatrous love: A new Approach to Othello”. Shakespeare Quarterly 19.2 (1968): 107- 124.
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