Othello is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare about Othello, a Moorish general in the Venetian army. Othello has been tricked into believing that his wife, Desdemona, has been having an affair with his lieutenant Michael Cassio and kills her. Othello then discovers that the “affair” was all a lie. Othello is then killed by his own officers after Othello kills Desdemona (Fisher). One of the main themes in Othello is love. There are many instances throughout Othello that Shakespeare uses images of magic to represent this theme.
For example, Othello speaks several times about the supposed affair between Cassio and Desdemona saying that it would be like “black wires grow on white ivory” which represents how Othello views the “affair” as unnatural since he sees them as different races (Shakespeare). Another occurrence where Othello has a negative view on the idea of love is while he is speaking with Iago. Iago says, “Thou hast seen Cassio and she together. Often, very often, and thou seest how Othello love’st her” (Shakespeare).
Othello responds with “Cassio DMV (Damn’d mee v) , O, it is e’en so” which shows Othello seeing his love for Desdemona as a curse or something that will lead to destruction (Shakespeare). Othello mirrors this idea of magic associated with love by using the word “charms”. Othello uses this word to describe Desdemona’s beauty saying “She has deceiv’d her father, may she, therefore, / Deceive my Cassio too? ” Also when Othello says that he would withdraw himself to view part of Desdemona’s body he says, “That I might see the O of her that bow’d / To all my questions” (Shakespeare).
Othello is saying that he wants to look at Desdemona in order to give himself a pleasure. Othello also used this word when speaking about how Cassio looks at Othello’s wife saying, “O thou dull Moor! That handkerchief thou speak’s of I found by fortune and did give my husband; For often with a solemn earnestness— More than indeed belonged to such a trifle— He begg’d of me to steal it” (Shakespeare). Othello says that she has stolen his heart because he thinks that he loves her. Othello uses this word again when Othello is frustrated with both himself and his wife saying, “I look down towards his feet; but that’s a fable.
If that thou best a devil, I cannot kill thee” (Shakespeare). Othello is once again associating something he loves with magic because he thinks Desdemona has made him weak by giving him the power to kill her if she was truly evil. Othello also used this word to describe how much Cassio was attracted to Othello’s wife saying, “But yet the pity of it, Iago! O Iago, the pity of it, Iago! ” Othello is using this in order to show how much Othello is in pain because Othello’s wife is loving another man (Shakespeare). Othello has no power over who his love chooses.
Othello uses this word again when Othello says, “And yet I wish but for the thing, I have” Othello is saying that he wishes Desdemona was still his so that Othello didn’t have to share her with anyone else. Othello mirrors the magic associated with love by repeating instances where there are spells used. Shakespeare uses these types of references in order to show how complex human emotions can be. Othello also shows this by describing things that hurt him or bring him joy as enchanting or mythological creatures like mermaids and satyrs (Fisher).
Othello also uses this idea with Othello’s feelings towards Desdemona saying, “But that I love the gentle Desdemona— Indeed Othel’lo ’tis most strong, most sure; The more I think don’t, the more it draws me” (Shakespeare). Othello is once again associating his love for Desdemona as a spell or something unbreakable. Othello also describes images of magic when Othello sees images of Cassio and Othello’s wife together: O! beware, my lord, of jealousy. It is the green-eyed monster that doth mock The meat it feeds on.
That cuckold lives in bliss Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger; But Othello shows this idea one final time when Othello says ” I lov’d thee ere I saw thee” (Shakespeare). Othello is describing the fact that he loved Othello for a long time before Othello met Desdemona. Othello has developed this idea because Othello believes that Othello’s love for Desdemona changed drastically after they met and became involved. Othello has become obsessed with the idea that there was something different about him or her before they were together.
Othello is a darkly tragic play, as Othello murders his wife out of suspicion and jealousy. Othello’s main weakness was that he was very insecure about himself and his relationship with Desdemona. Othello commits the murder because Iago tells Othello that Desdemona has been cheating on him and sleeping with his lieutenant, Cassio.
Othello loves Desdemona so much, even though she only married Othello for political reasons, so he cannot believe her capable of such disloyalty. Othello trusts Iago completely due to their military history but eventually comes to realize that Iago is untrustworthy and bitter towards Othello because Othello passed over him for promotion.
Othello becomes so overcome with jealousy and rage that he kills Desdemona, who is pleading for Othello to believe her as Othello smothers her. Othello comes to his senses after killing Desdemona and realizes everything Iago has done to destroy Othello’s life. Othello then commits suicide by stabbing himself in the stomach. Othello could have survived if he had not killed himself but instead died a painful death from being stabbed because of all the damage Iago did to his life.