The Meaning of Love in Shakespeare's Othello Essay

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The Meaning of Love in Othello

The Bible says that 'all else is redundant without love', a most profound and relevant statement underlining the tragedy of Othello; in the absence of love, the Moor's fortunes plummet, so that he loses not only his respect and his posting but his life and that of his wife also. However, to truly understand the depth of this tragedy, it is essential to understand from where Othello, the protagonist, is coming before the arrival of his peripiteia, his falling out of love and into jealousy. It is therefore vital to understand the meaning of love in Othello, not only to fully portray Othello's fall from grace, but to understand many of the actions and views of the other characters in the play. It also
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Notice that it is only Othello who uses the heightened language, whilst Desdemona refrains from its usage; also, that to Othello, Desdemona is a 'fair warrior' but his use of synonyms is not returned as Desdemona decides to call him, 'My dear Othello', a rather weak compliment in comparison. Both of these incidents point towards Othello being deeply, deeply in love, infatuated with Desdemona and this is backed up throughout the play. His view of love in this instance as an all-consuming, passionate, raging forest fire is implicit through his frequent allusions to sex,

'To please the palate of my appetite
Nor to comply with heat, the young affects
In me defunct, and proper satisfaction',

as well as his use of classical, semi-divine metaphors such as 'feathered Cupid' which show that Othello believes that his love is inescapable; it is favoured by the gods and cannot be separated from for fear of invoking the wrath of the Gods.

Desdemona, on the other hand, gives a much cooler view of love when concerned with Othello. Probably the best scene for ascertaining her feelings about love is Act 1.3. This is the scene where she is called in to give her view of the courtship between her and Othello and where her father asks her, 'Where most you owe obedience?' to which, surprisingly, she answers without mentioning love at all. She says, 'I do perceive here a divided duty', and it

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