Verbal images related to the themes of love and jealousy in the later tragedies, "Othello" and "Antony and Cleopatra" help to understand the psychology of the characters, to penetrate into the patterns of these powerful passions. These images are very different from the metaphorical style in the early tragedy "Romeo and Juliet" – where they transmit power to suddenly erupted spontaneous feeling, which seems something sacred to the heroes. Romeo’s first words addressed to Juliet, express awe in this metaphor:
If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
Juliet responds, encouraging a stranger:
Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this (1.5.108-110).
In imaginative hyperbolic form, there is expressed characteristic to young Juliet perfectionism, inability to moral compromises. She sends a nurse to know the name of the stranger and says to herself: "Go ask his name: if he be married. My grave is like to be my wedding bed” (1.5.148-150) In the scene of the night date Juliet rejects oath: "yet if thou swear'st, Thou mayst prove false; at lovers' perjuries Then say, Jove laughs" (2.2.96-98), then allows to swear “by thy gracious self” (2.2.118). These words are puzzling – why by himself? Could it be that in the eyes of Shakespeare, betrayal of the first love, so pure and gentle is a betrayal of oneself? By betraying such love, he will not be himself. Juliet feels a special state - peace and immense of infinite tenderness.
Unlike the first tragedy, the other two are devoted to the image of love of mature people, whom that love leads to a clash with the world: love of Othello is destroyed by slander because the slanderer’s success is facilitated by prejudices dominant in the society; love of Antony and Cleopatra opposes political struggle and enmity between two states.
"Othello" is the tragedy of violent and terrible ordeal, which a sublime and profound love of two beautiful people has undergone. Noble Moor, absorbing the culture of the Italian Renaissance, a seasoned warrior, wise due to age and suffering, is helpless before the intrigue of vile slanderer, loses faith in Desdemona and, tortured by the pangs of jealousy, kills her. On the contrary, love of young Desdemona withstands all the trials and Desdemona forgives husband even her death. Justified are her words: "Unkindness may do much; And his unkindness may defeat my life, But never taint my love” (4.2.160-163). To some critics Desdemona seems to be too gentle and naive, just submissive victim. These statements do not comply with the plan of Shakespeare.
Love for such a character, as Desdemona, is the highest value of life. In the eyes of Shakespeare, Desdemona is a rare and heroic nature. Only one character in Shakespeare's dramas receives such assessments as Desdemona. Cassio to the question of whether governor of Cyprus was married, replied: “Most fortunately: he hath achieved a maid That paragons description and wild fame; One that excels the quirks of blazoning pens, And in the essential vesture of creation Does tire the ingener" (2.1.61-64). Cassio calls her divine, Othello – gentle. First epithet needs no comment, it means the highest perfection, and the second represents combination of "charming", "soft", "kind", "good” and much more. Shakespeare introduced such a determination in the evaluation of Brutus, who in the eyes of friends and foes is the highest moral authority. Shakespeare himself by his friend Ben Jonson and his fellow actors, publishers of the first folio, was called gentle. Brutus and Shakespeare himself possess most peculiar rare qualities of character – noble humanity, gentleness and charm, moral purity and steadfastness. All these features are also typical of Desdemona.
Brabantio is convinced that his daughter is the victim of witchcraft, precisely because she was shy and quiet girl. "A maiden never bold; Of spirit so still and quiet, that her motion Blush'd at herself" (1.3.94-96) - in this metaphor there is transferred chastity and purity of Desdemona, who made such an audacious move, as an escape from the house and a secret marriage. About love of Desdemona Othello says the famous maxim: "She loved me for the dangers I had pass'd, And I loved her that she did pity them" (1.3.167-168).
Desdemona asks senators to allow her to accompany her husband to Cyprus, and she speaks of her love: "I saw Othello's visage in his mind, And to his honour and his valiant parts Did I my soul and fortunes consecrate" (1.3.253-255). In her words, there is not only compassion, but also admiration of extraordinary man. Othello admits that in his life, he lost only the last few months when he was not thinking of military duty and service – and he met Desdemona. He mentions that if he did not love her, he would not agree to embarrass his stray freedom for all the world's wealth. These phrases help to psychologically understand how deep the love of Desdemona and Othello is. He says to his wife after the battle that she was a joy of his soul, and adds that his soul feels so complete and perfect happiness and peace that he wanted to die at that moment not to expose their happiness to unknown future. Desdemona says that over the years, their love will be even stronger.
Sequence of scenes is always important to understand the author's intention – and it is essential that this dialogue precedes the start of execution of Iago's evil plan. So Shakespeare shows that before the intervention of the accuser nothing clouded happiness of the heroes.
Iago slanders on Desdemona before Rodrigo, whom he swindles money, and before Cassio to arouse impure desires, talking about Desdemona with allegedly inherent sensuality. These hints are not supported by Cassio, who on the contrary, admires her modesty, tenderness, delicacy. The first hint thrown to Othello, he reacts intelligently:
'Tis not to make me jealous
Is free of speech, sings, plays and dances well;
Where virtue is, these are more virtuous (3.3.183-186).
But then, being already convinced of his wife's infidelity, Othello says about her merits with great sadness: "I do but say what she is: so delicate with her needle: an admirable musician: O! she will sing the savageness out of a bear: of so high and plenteous wit and invention” (4.1.189-192). Iago, feeling in the heart of Othello love can triumph, exclaims: "She's the worse for all this," (4.1.193) and again revives in the soul of Othello anger and hatred.
Othello feels so strong a shock that his whole nature became another. Changed is the style of his speech, in his vocabulary there appeared rudeness and naturalism inherent to cynical judgments of Iago. The biggest shock inflicts Iago mentioning that passion for human alien race is unstable and unnatural: "Foh! one may smell in such a will most rank, Foul disproportion thoughts unnatural" (3.3.232-233). And Othello doubting the love of his wife, reflects on his inferiority – psychologically true observation of Shakespeare about people that are somewhat different from the others, easily believing that these shortcomings deprive them of love. "Haply, for I am black" (3.3.263) – sadly tells himself Othello. "I am abused" – not just cheated, but offended. Othello is not talking about revenge: "and my relief Must be to loathe her" (3.3.268-269). Othello enters metaphor explaining his condition: there arises word "appetites", usually referring to carnal feelings of lust, passion.
Iago received from Emilia handkerchief of Desdemona, confident of his success – he sees that Othello is poisoned by jealousy, and for a jealous person any trifle seems equally valid to the arguments of scripture. And Iago adds a metaphor: "Dangerous conceits are, in their natures, poisons. Which at the first are scarce found to distaste, But with a little act upon the blood. Burn like the mines of Sulphur” (3.3.326-329). With pleasure Iago says that no poppy, nor mandragora, nor other hypnotics of the world will return Othello his old dream.
Othello feels anguish, which he compares to torture on the rack, he delivers his monologue - farewell to feathered troops, which is sometimes perceived as his farewell to life. Until now, there is debate, whether Othello conceived suicide already at this point. However, this metaphor in monologue allows reinterpretation: he admits that he would be happy in the dark – even if the whole camp tasted her sweet body. And after that thought there should be parting with all that it was expensive in life: feathered troops, 3 major wars, ambition, neighing horses, call of the pipe, drumming, banners, pride, pomp, glory. It is about parting with life, but in a different sense than some commentators suggest: all his former life, full of dangers and military glory. That life, for which the highest award for him was Desdemona's love, betrayal lost its meaning for him and worth betrayal, betrayal of Desdemona as if rejected all his life, valiant and glorious, destroyed his human essence, his soul chaos.
Character of Othello’s jealousy is contradictory by comments. Authors, following racial prejudice distort the idea of Shakespeare beyond recognition, claiming that the very nature of Othello is a hidden barbarian, savage, that civilization is only the outer shell, which is rapidly degraded by detecting instincts inherent in upbringing.
All these inventions are refuted by the text of the tragedy. First, the fact that Othello is the Moor is not the most significant in the development of events. Shakespeare follows the source, because in the novel Giraldi Cinta hero – Moor (though there he does not commit suicide and flees), but ennobles character, making it a Renaissance man. Seeing as Othello offends Desdemona, Lodovico sent by the Senate exclaims: "Is this the noble Moor whom our full senate Call all in all sufficient? Is this the nature Whom passion could not shake? whose solid virtue The shot of accident, nor dart of chance, Could neither graze nor pierce?" (4.1.266-269). Epileptic seizures experienced by Othello suggests that, indeed, his nature is dramatically shaken. Such terrible change is not uncommon in Shakespeare's tragedies. Recall how the external and internal appearance of Hamlet, Lear, Macbeth changes. So there were no dozing wild passions in Othello, this is only a speculation of critics.
Shakespeare, William. "Romeo and Juliet: Shakespeare." Production. Ed. James N. Loehlin. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2002).
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice. Ed. Tucker Brooke and Lawrence Mason. New Haven: Yale UP, 1947. Print.