Magic And Othello Essay, Research Paper
Repeated Image Clusters of Love and Magic in Othello
Arthur David Hash
Western World Literature
In Othello love is made to be deceitful and evil, spawned from magic. References of magic are used to define Desdemona?s love for Othello. Black versus white, good versus evil, these themes are provided to the reader by a deceitful Iago. Convincing Rodrigo, other characters and perhaps the reader that their love could only be the result of some spell cast by Othello to usurp her love. Iago spins on his web of deceit. Desdemona?s love is not true. It is the result of some magic. Twisting reality Iago convinces them and the result is death.
The story begins. Branbanzio confronts Othello. ???.O thou foul thief, where hast thou stowed my daughter? Dammed as thou art, thou hast enchanted her, for I?ll refer me to all things of sense, if she in chains of magic were not bound?? (p.2121 line 63-66). Enraged, Branbanzio lashes out against Othello. He mind is clouded by rage spawned from taunts yelled to him in the night by Rodrigo and Iago. When he approaches the duke with his affairs the scene is described. ?She is abused and stolen from me, and corrupted by spells and medicines bought of mountebanks. For nature so preposterously to err, being not deficient, blind or lame of sense, Sans witchcraft could not.? (p 2124 line 60-64) Branbanzio can?t believe this match. His daughter cannot be in love with the moor. He can only believe that witchcraft is to blame. This seed planted, he rants in front of the court only later to be calmed by his old friend Othello. Shakespeare uses the references as an aside. In reality they may have only been involuntary reaction to the situations. Maybe if he says what he thinks out load then it will make the fact of his daughter betraying him a fallacy. Othello says his tales enchanted her??She?d come again with a greedy ear Devour up my discourse; ?? (p.2126 line 148). He reminds his friend Branbanzio that he has told him his tales and they moved his daughter. This was not magic. ?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.?(p.2124 line 91) The duke promises that whoever is responsible will be punished, and that Brabanzio himself will decide the punishment, but when Branbanzio points out Othello as the predator, there are shocked murmurs from everyone. This is not something they expected from Othello, and it looks as if they might loose his services just when they need them the most.
Starting from the beginning Shakespeare wrote Iago?s part to be the antagonist. Convincing the other characters that the love of the Desdemona for Othello must have been conjured up by magic. Shakespeare makes a theme of racism between Iago and Othello and other characters in the play. Brabanzio can?t bring himself to believe that his wife so pure and white could be in love with Othello who is black the color of evil.
Magic is peppered through the story like ingredients in a cauldron. During the times of Shakespeare people believed in superstition, witches and sorcery. Shakespeare brought amusement with these subjects to the stage. Making it a belief. For example seizures are believed to be the way the body fights off the devil during. When Othello has these seizures Iago exults in his ?medicine? making Iago look like he is concocting something. His stories taunt Othello making him break down to convulsions. Iago convinces Othello that he can prove Desdemona is cheating on him. This throws him into a seizure. There is a handkerchief that Othello gave to Desdemona and is in the possession of Cassio. Enraged Othello confronts Desdemona, telling her of its magic. He tells her a story of how Othello?s mother received it from an Egyptian sorceress. There was magic in it. It made Othello?s mother lovable. This brought his father to her. If the handkerchief was given away or lost that the magic of it would be lost. She gave it to Othello with the same magic. Now lost by Desdemona, the fate will be the same in the end. This story of the handkerchief could have been just a test. That he did not believe in the magic it held but inference is stronger here than real life. For the fate of Desdemona is true to the tale.
The connection of Love and magic throughout Othello makes the play more stimulating. Other stories from this period posses the same mystical belief. Dante?s inferno suggests levels of hell that have gruesome tortures. Sir Gaiwan and the Green Knight tell tales of magic, using magical items as tokens of love. Similar to the handkerchief in Othello this story uses a green girdle as a sign of temptation and love. Green symbolizing the magic armor worn by the mysterious Green knight. If the mysticism were not there then Othello would be a bit bland.
Readers want to read about magic, mystery and murder. The themes of the play would be too literal and obvious. The simplicity of the themes throughout the play would be a little less interesting if a bit of magic was not thrown in.