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"Why did I marry?" Answer Othello’s question

 

 

Why did Othello marry is an incredibly complex question, the obvious answer would be that he loves Desdemona, but why does he love her and why does his love turn to hate so quickly in Act III scene 3 requires much thought and consideration. Othello likes people to be plain and open because that is what he himself is, he has grown to become his image, he is only on the surface, he hides nothing because that is his image, to only have one side, the military side. Thus Desdemona also seems to him very open, he likes her because he thinks she is like him however when he finds that she might be hiding something from him then he stops loving her. At the same time Othello needs a wife to complete his image, she is the proof that he is a successful general and Christian and he can show her off as such.

Othello loves or thinks he loves Desdemona for many reasons, not least because he thinks she is like him. He thinks it will be a good relationship because she seems to be in his eyes just like a soldier thus like him so that he attracted her while telling her tales of his battles as seen in Act I scene 3: "She loved me for the dangers I has passed". He talks to her as he talks to a soldier using images of war and might:

"May the winds blow till they have wakened death,

And let the labouring bark climb hills of seas".

Because she comes with him to the wars, she becomes even more in his mind one of his soldiers so that after he comes back to Cyprus he greets her with: "O, my fair warrior". Othello can not cope with anybody who is different from him, who he cannot understand so that because he sees so much of himself in Desdemona he loves her. She is his "hard bright surface" because she reflects his image when he looks at her. She is commanding, smart and self-confident which he sees as his own best qualities. She shows how commanding and smart she is when she first answers her father in Act I scene 3:

 

To you I am bound for life and education;

My life and education both do learn me

How to respect you. You are the lord of duty,

I am hitherto your daughter. But here’s my husband,

And so much duty as my mother showed

To you, preferring you before her father…

 

She also accepts being disturbed during her wedding night thus displaying her patience.

Othello has a very hard time coping with people who are not open thus the person he married would have to be completely open to him so that the second he starts to believe that she might be hiding something from him he starts to doubt her. Up to this point in his life, probably because of his Moorish background there has been only one side to his life, his career as a general, as a result of this he has nothing to hide, no shame, so that when people see him, he is completely open, however this also means that he hates when people are not like him, when they do not show all of what they think, this comes out in the scene when Iago gets Cassio drunk and at first nobody will tell Othello what’s going on. It is Iago who ironically points out how: "men should be what they seem" which summarises Othello’s ideas. Othello loves Desdemona because she hides nothing from him and thus their relationship must also be open, not only between themselves but also to other people so that Shakespeare never shows them to us alone, their relationship is completely public, even on their wedding night they are disturbed and whenever they show love for each other somebody else, sometimes even the whole army is present.

Othello loves Desdemona not only because she is like him but also because she completes his own image. Othello is obviously ashamed of his ancestry, of being a Moor so that he tries to take on the image of the crusader, of the middle-age knight which is the opposite of a Moor. To complete this image he needs a companion, a wife that he finds in Desdemona. On one hand she provides him with proof that he is a good Christian and on the other hand her rich Venetian family means that she is a suitable wife for the image he is trying to uphold. Even the way he attracts her to him is keeping with the image of the courtly code.

Othello needed to marry to complete his image but at the same time his wife and his relationship had to reflect his own one-sideness. Desdemona was perfect for him because she loved him, was like him and was suitable to be the wife of an important general.


 


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