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Analysis of Othello and Desdemona's Marriage

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The marriage of Desdemona and Othello is shocking to other characters as, in the eyes of Venetian society, Desdemona should have made a highly successful in marriage and could have been the bride of any one of the city’s most eligible bachelors - ‘the wealthy curled darlings’ of the nation. A girl such as Desdemona - ‘so tender, fair, and happy’ would have made a good wife for any wealthy man. However Desdemona proved to have a mind of her own and rejected men of her father’s choice, marrying a man of her own heart who was among minority in their society despite his prestigious position and thus, because it was was so shocking, Desdemona’s father initially blamed witchcraft as he cannot believe his ‘fair’ daughter would want to marry a black man. This reflects the idea of natural order being subverted - just as witchcraft is unnatural, ‘fair’ Desdemona marrying a black man would be unnatural. Shakespeare reflects the views people of the Venetian society of this era would hold towards a man of Othello’s colour as well as the stereotype of ‘Moors’ being associated to witchcraft and dabbling in such unnatural things that go against the natural order.

From the very first scene, we see prejudice with which characters such as Iago and Roderigo regard Othello with, using offensive terms when describing the hated ‘Moor’, such as ‘old black ram’. The early scenes of the play emphasize Othello’s colour and sexual appetite when Iago and Roderigo abuse his ‘thick lips’, and when Brabantio is revolted at the thought of the ‘sooty bosom’. However other characters have more positive views of Othello. The colour of Othello’s skin did not matter to Desdemona as she ‘saw Othello’s visage in his mind’, and gave up her father’s favour as well as her reputation in the Venetian society to be with Othello. Othello’s blackness, his visible difference from everyone around him, is of little importance to Desdemona. The Duke shares Desdemona's perception to look beyond Othello’s skin color as he tell the furious Brabantio that his son-in-law was ‘far more fair than black’ and this respect the Duke has of Othello comes from Othello’s position as a military leader through which he has shown his worth. This shows that Othello, whilst mocked for his features by some, is held in high regard by others.

On the other hand Desdemona is regarded very differently. Characters such as Othello and Cassio regard Desdemona as a woman who as equal or superior bravery to Othello. There is a play on military imagery in accounts to desdemona’s character; she is referred to as the ‘captain’s captain’, ‘fair warrior’. Desdemona herself describes her passion for Othello with violent imagery: ‘my downright violence and storm of fortunes’. It is perhaps her self-surety or her rebellious streak that draws many of the men in the play to her as well as her intelligence in speech



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