- All Best Essays, Term Papers and Book Report

Eros Vs. Agape

Essay by   •  April 1, 2012  •  Case Study  •  1,780 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,824 Views

Essay Preview: Eros Vs. Agape

Report this essay
Page 1 of 8

Eros vs. Agape

The romantic love relationships within Othello and Antony and Cleopatra are axis points surrounding plot, tragedy, and significant theme that surrounds each play: the depth and nature of love involved. Each protagonist's degree of love buttresses the severity of his tragic flaw. In essence, the tenacity of the character's nature increases proportionally to the depth and severity of his tragic downfall. In Shakespeare's Othello, Othello bases his love for Desdemona on his success as a soldier. He has wooed and won over Desdemona with stories of his military and career battles. However, once the Turks are destroyed, by nature rather than military defeat, Othello is left with nothing to do. His final act of military duty is separating a minor fight between soldiers. No longer having a means to prove his prowess, Othello's mind gravitates towards the illusory and strays from the reality. He allows his mind to wander and see his new bride having an affair when no affair exists. He becomes consumed with jealousy and punishing Desdemona for her fictional infidelity. We see the infatuation and lust that once drew Othello to Desdemona is not enough to sustain a strong relationship. Oppositely, Antony loves Cleopatra to the depths of his soul. His love for her transcends his very existence. Othello and Antony are both great military leaders with great power; however, they do not share the same type of love. Othello's superficial feelings for Desdemona do not compare with the lavish love Antony feels for Cleopatra. Othello's love for Desdemona depends on a quid pro quo to survive. Antony shares a monumental love that is true and undemanding of Cleopatra. Othello gladly puts his life on the line with every battle, but cannot manage to put his heart on the line for his wife. Antony's love for Cleopatra is so powerful he will risk his life, his reputation, and his heart to prove this to her. From the beginning, Antony is seen publicly expressing his love for Cleopatra despite the implications to his authority. Antony's own soldiers detest such flamboyant professions of love. "This dotage of our General's/Overflows the measure" (1.1.1-2), states Antony's solider. Antony allows his love for Cleopatra to blind him to all else that surrounds him. We see him as a great leader who has lost all desire for dominance. He has lost his rigid loyalty to the Roman Empire. It has been replaced with his desire and love for Cleopatra. We witness Antony become stripped of qualities he once valued: power, ambition, leadership, honor, and his integrity as a solider. As the play progresses, Antony's diminishment is shown when he allows his love for Cleopatra to tragically influence his military decisions.

Because Othello and Desdemona rush into marriage without any sense of who the other one is, it is easy to understand why their marriage spirals out of control so rapidly. Relationships based on flattery or self-interest are doomed to fail. Lasting relationships must be based on a true love; love needs to be unselfish with no demands on the lovers. When relationships encompass this most important solidity, love will flourish and transcend the bounds of one's own sense of self. Sadly, Othello and Desdemona's love never reach this height. Othello never declares his love for Desdemona is constructed on his perception of her as a woman, his appreciation of her finer qualities, nor a sense that he even comprehends anything of her past or her present. Othello readily admits that he and Desdemona's love is based solely upon military battles, "She loved me for the dangers I had passed/And I loved her that she did pity them" (1.3.166-167). This type of adoration is not enough to sustain the couple once he is no longer has war strategies to plan. They know nothing of one another's genuine character. In order for Othello and Desdemona's marriage to last, he would have to keep living an adventurous life and telling Desdemona stories of those escapades. In other words, Othello would have to pay Desdemona for love with his stories.

It becomes evident early in the play that jealously is the quintessential theme. Jealously is implanted so deeply in Othello's mind, he is convinced of an affair between his lieutenant Cassio and Desdemona. He can no longer envision Desdemona's virtue. Convincing himself that she has given Cassio a treasured handkerchief, Othello can barely control the rage swirling in his mind. The handkerchief is symbolic of Desdemona's purity. The pattern of strawberries "was dyed in mummy, which the skillful/conserved of maidens' hearts" (3.4.72-73), on a white background powerfully allude to bloodstains left on bed sheets on a virgin's wedding night. This handkerchief directly suggests a guarantee of virginity as well as fidelity; therefore, thinking she has betrayed him Othello is consumed with striking revenge upon Desdemona. His expression of jealousy swiftly dissipates from conventional to the absurd:

Farewell the tranquil mind, farewell content,

Farewell the plumed troops and big wars

That makes ambition virtue! O, farewell,

Farewell the neighing steed and shrill trump,




Download as:   txt (10.2 Kb)   pdf (123.4 Kb)   docx (12.8 Kb)  
Continue for 7 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2012, 04). Eros Vs. Agape. Retrieved 04, 2012, from

"Eros Vs. Agape" 04 2012. 2012. 04 2012 <>.

"Eros Vs. Agape.", 04 2012. Web. 04 2012. <>.

"Eros Vs. Agape." 04, 2012. Accessed 04, 2012.