Tuesday, January 5, 2010

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not. (Othello Passage Analysis)

Act V, Scene ii, Lines 1-24

It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul,--
Let me not name it to you, you chaste stars!--
It is the cause. Yet I'll not shed her blood;
Nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow,
And smooth as monumental alabaster.
Yet she must die, else she'll betray more men.
Put out the light, and then put out the light:
If I quench thee, thou flaming minister,
I can again thy former light restore,
Should I repent me: but once put out thy light,
Thou cunning'st pattern of excelling nature,
I know not where is that Promethean heat
That can thy light relume. When I have pluck'd the rose,
I cannot give it vital growth again.
It must needs wither: I'll smell it on the tree.

Kissing her

Ah balmy breath, that dost almost persuade
Justice to break her sword! One more, one more.
Be thus when thou art dead, and I will kill thee,
And love thee after. One more, and this the last:
So sweet was ne'er so fatal. I must weep,
But they are cruel tears: this sorrow's heavenly;
It strikes where it doth love. She wakes.

Love is one of the dreams that most people have. They dream of perfection, of shared emotions and feelings, of that perfect significant other, who understands their thoughts just with a look in their eyes. Everyone dreams of this, and no one considers the idea that sometimes it cannot happen. Life is not blissful to all. It plays its games and sometimes love can not conquer all. William Shakespeare’s play Othello is a perfect example of how circumstances can turn the happy ending into a tragedy. The main character Othello is misguided by his trust into people, which makes him murder his beloved one. The monologue of Othello in Scene 2 of Act 5 reveals his inner conflict and his love for Desdemona, which are scarred by intrigue, lies and manipulation.
The Shakespearean style of writing supposes a deep meaning behind the words. Othello describes Desdemona using similes: “…whiter skin of hers than snow / And smooth as monumental alabaster.”(V.ii.4-5) The image of the sleeping Desdemona is similar to the childish idea of the sleeping beauty. Her description presents peace and calm. The symbol of snow is connected with innocence, which shows the irony in Othello’s doubts in Desdemona. The life of Desdemona is compared to a rose:
“When I have plucked rose,
I cannot give it vital growth again.
It needs must wither.”(V.ii.13-15)
The metaphorical meaning of the quote shows the affection of Othello towards Desdemona. She is compared to a flower: discrete and gentle, guilty for being so beautiful. The symbol of the rose has a biblical reference: the Holy Grail. It gives life, and presents a meaning in the life of every Christian. This is the meaning of Desdemona for Othello’s life: she is everything he lives for. Her loss is equal to the loss of life itself. He speaks of her gently and with great attention. The fact that he watches her while she sleeps is significant: it presents a desire to see her and connect her for the last time, and in the same time presents the doubt that has nested in Othello’s heart.
Othello is full of doubt. The actual function of the monologue in the sense of the whole play is to present the inner conflict, which Othello fights. He loves Desdemona, but his honor id too hurt by the idea that he has shared her with another man. He loves her and he will continue to love her even in her death:
“Be thus when thou art dead, and I will kill thee
And love her after. One more, and the last.
The idea of the last kiss could be connected with another Shakespearean play: Romeo and Juliet. The young Romeo kisses Juliet and dies next to her. In the same way Othello gives his beloved one last kiss, before his own demons posses him.
Othello is similar to Romeo and Juliet in another aspect: the idea of destiny and its games with people’s lives. Romeo and Juliet are referred to as “star-cross’d lovers”. The destiny plays its games, and ironically the lovers are together in Heaven. Othello loves Desdemona insanely. It is like pain to him:
“But they are cruel tears. This sorrow’s heavenly:
It strikes where it doth love. (V.ii.23-24)”
He desires to revenge his honor, and in the same way he wants to be with his love. Destiny plays its game in the same way, as in the other play: Desdemona drops her napkin, and no one sees it. Othello hears a conversation that has nothing to do with Desdemona, but Iago makes him believe otherwise. The “star cross’d lovers” in Othello are not even given a chance to realize how strong their love is. Pride and honor blind Othello’s heart. Lies, intrigue and manipulation completely destroy his ability to see clearly how much Desdemona loves him, but anyway he makes his redemption in her last sleep, when she is beautiful, calm and blessed by her innocence.
Othello presents a man, who betrays his own love, because of doubt, but in the same time he presents one man who is scared of his own actions. He realizes that by killing Desdemona, he will kill his own desire to live. The monologue in the beginning of Scene 2 of Act 5 shows exactly how much Othello loves Desdemona: for a lifetime and after that. The reader realizes also how much Othello’s heart had been poisoned by all the lies around him. Love is not always just to everyone: sometimes it is cruel, and hurts, but people should trust this pain: it is the only thing that can make them open their eyes.

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