I’ve never really been the biggest fan of Shakespeare, before now I’ve only ever read that which I had to study. The only literary influences I had as a kid were my mum and the school curriculum, there’s not a lot of variety there. So I tried to go into this play with an open mind; I’ve studied it before, but never really took the time to see the story behind the analysis.
So Othello is a play about a man who falls in love with a younger woman, Desdemona, who then has his love turned against him by an evil co worker, Iago. Pretty much sums up the point of the play in the simplest of forms.
Desdemona is the lead female role, we do not see much of her in the play, but she is a high born lady, who runs away from her father’s home in the night, to marry the General of the Venetian Army. She is eventually murdered by her husband, when her actions are misunderstood.
While reading it I did begin to wonder as to whether Desdemona did actually love Othello, we see very little of her in the play, but my curiosity was sparked by Iago’s persistence. Yes Iago could place the seeds of doubt, but if Othello and Desdemona truly loved each other like they said they did then those seeds would not grow, doubt would be a barren land.
Othello, Act I Scene III
She swore, in faith, twas strange, ’twas passing strange,
‘Twas pitiful, ’twas wondrous pitiful:
she wish’d she had not heard it, yet she wish’d
That heaven had made her such a man:
she thank’d me,
And bade me, if I had a friend that loved her,
I should but teach him how to tell my story.
I once got to see this play preformed at the Crucible in Sheffield, UK, and when reading through I saw the actors in their roles. And I began to question; why would mere words convince a high born young woman to go against her father’s rule. And what for, Othello appears to be past his prime, he has spent many of his years fighting wars, fighting for his freedom. Yes he has some form of standing within the Senate, but he is still an old man.
I suppose there wouldn’t be a story if Desdemona hadn’t run off in the night to marry Othello. But I can’t say I agree with her choices. The power of a story can be strong, but as Othello, wouldn’t you rather have a partner who loves you for who you are, not the story you can tell. And clearly Othello gave a story that was dreadfully different to himself; Desdemona fell in love with the Heroic fairytale, not the man himself. The story she knew portrayed him as a peaceful man who could do no wrong; when in fact he was like any other.
Yes I feel sorry for the fate which Desdemona, and subsequently Othello, suffered. But I wonder whether their relationship was worth the hassle anyway. She was brought up by a father who intended the best for her, he turned away Roderigo for not being good enough for his only daughter, and he would have done his best for her. Yet she gave up her family, and her position for a man who would lead to her downfall.