Professor WoehlerLIT 1000
24 April 2018
In Shakespeare’s Othello, Othello’s pride prevents him from finding the truth, eventually leading to his demise. Initially, Othello and Desdemona are deeply in love, despite her father’s disapproval of their marriage. However, when Othello promotes Cassio instead of Iago to Lieutenant, Iago has his revenge by convincing Othello that Desdemona cheats on him with Cassio, destroying the marriage between Othello and Desdemona. Othello’s pride is very evident throughout the poem and leads to the downfall of himself.
In the beginning of the play, Othello and Desdemona have a strong relationship. Brabantio, furious that his daughter Desdemona loves Othello, tries to convince the Duke that Desdemona’s love of Othello subsists because he cast a spell on her. However, Othello opposes Brabantio’s accusation: “I will a round unvarnish’d tale deliver / Of my whole course of love: what drugs, what charms, / What conjuration, and what mighty magic, — / For such proceeding I am charged withal,– / I won his daughter” (102-106). Othello not only proves to the Duke that he won Desdemona because she fell in love with him, but he also proves his loyalty to Desdemona in showing that he will not let anyone come between them. The Duke informs Othello that the Turks have invaded Cyprus. Othello, not wanting to leave her, asks Desdemona to come along; however, Brabantio does not wish for Desdemona to join Othello. When the Duke suggests that she should stay with Brabantio, none agree: “I crave fit disposition for my wife/. . . With such accommodation and besort / As levels with her breeding. / Duke: If you please, / Be’t at her father’s. / Brabantio: I’ll not have it so. / Othello: Nor I. / Desdemona: Nor I” (254-262). Even in time of war, Othello’s and Desdemona’s love holds true. Brabantio knows that Desdemona will show loyalty to Othello, so he would rather have her away with Othello than home with him. Othello plans revelry for the evening in celebration of the defeat of the Turks and in celebration of his marriage to Desdemona. Once the celebration begins, Othello leaves Cassio on guard and departs to consummate his marriage: “Come, my dear love, — / The purchase made, the fruits are to ensue; / The profit’s yet to come `tween me and you” (9-11). Othello only wishes for the best from his new marriage with Desdemona. He shows no sign of any desire for anything bad to happen. Othello’s and Desdemona’s marriage stays free of problems because their love for each other stays strong.
However strong Othello’s and Desdemona’s marriage seems, it begins to deteriorate because of Othello’s self-pride. At first, Iago convinces Othello that Desdemona is unfaithful. Iago suggests to Othello that Desdemona slept with Cassio. Iago uses a handkerchief given by Othello to Desdemona that he got Emilia to get for him as his proof against Desdemona: “Have you not sometimes seen a handkerchief / Spotted with strawberries in you wife’s hand? / . . . I am sure it was your wife’s, — did I today / See Cassio wipe his beard with. / . . . It speaks against her with the other proofs” (483-491). Regardless of how he feels for Desdemona, Othello decides to trust Iago over her. Othello feels that Iago has told him secret information that he should never have known, so Othello naturally takes Iago’s word over Desdemona’s. In the end, all of Othello’s loyalty to Desdemona is gone. Once Othello thinks he hears that Iago kills Cassio, he goes to Desdemona’s room where she lies asleep. Othello confronts her and tells her to admit her unfaithfulness so that she may die with a good soul. “Desdemona: Kill me to-morrow; let me live to-night! / Othello: Nay, if you strive, — / Desdemona: But half an hour! / Othello: Being done, there is no pause. / Desdemona: But while I say one prayer! / Othello: It is too late. He smothers her.” (97-102). Even on her death bed, Othello refuses to listen even for a moment to his wife and to take just a minute to think if she tells the truth. Othello’s ego prevents him from admitting to himself or to others that he is wrong. Right before her death, Desdemona still proves her loyalty to Othello. Emilia, Iago’s wife, walks into the room to tell Othello that Roderigo died, contrary to Othello’s assumption of Cassio’s death. When Emilia asks Desdemona who killed her, she says “Nobody; I myself. Farewell: / Commend me to my kind lord: O, farewell!” then dies (149-150). Desdemona lies to Emilia to keep Othello from getting hurt, thus proving her unending loyalty to Othello; however, Othello does not speak up and declare that he killed Desdemona which would destroy his reputation, proving that his self-pride stays strong. The marriage between Othello and Desdemona fails to stay together because of Othello’s growing self-pride.