Professor WoehlerLIT 1000
24 April 2018
In Shakespeare’s Othello, Othello’s pride stops him from finding the truth, eventually leading to his demise. At the beginning, Othello and Desdemona are much in love. Even though Desdemona’s farther is against their marriage. When Othello promotes Cassio instead of Iago to Lieutenant, Iago has his revenge by convincing Othello that Desdemona cheats on him with Cassio. As a result, the marriage between Othello and Desdemona is destroyed. Othello’s pride is evident throughout the poem and leads to the downfall of himself.
Othello and Desdemona have a strong relationship. Brabantio, upset that his daughter Desdemona loves Othello, tries to convince the Duke that Desdemona’s love for Othello is true because he has spelled a cast on her. 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” (Othello, 1.3.90-94). 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 no one come between them. The Duke tells Othello that the Turks have invaded Cyprus. Othello, not wanting to leave her, asks Desdemona to come with him. However, Brabantio does not wish for Desdemona to join Othello. When the Duke says that she should stay with Brabantio, no one agrees with her. Brabantio knows that Desdemona will show loyalty to Othello, so he would rather have her away with Othello. Othello plans revelry for the evening to celebrate the defeat of the Turks. Once the celebration begins, Othello leaves Cassio on guard and departs to consummate his marriage. 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 tells Othello that Desdemona is unfaithful. Iago is telling Othello that Desdemona slept with Cassio. Iago uses a handkerchief given by Othello to Desdemona that he got Emilia to get for him as overwhelming 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” (Othello, 3.3.434-441). No matter 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 has disappeared. 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.” (Othello, 5.2.80-84). 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. 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 thinking that Cassio was dead. When Emilia asks Desdemona who killed her, she says “Nobody; I myself. Farewell: / Commend me to my kind lord: O, farewell!” then dies (Othello, 5.2.125). Desdemona lies to Emilia to keep Othello from getting hurt, which is 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. Othello and Desdemona marriage fails to stay together because of Othello’s growing self-pride.
Pride is a very powerful sin that can destroy the lives of people. This can turn people into something they are not and hurt other people. Othello lets pride get the best of him throughout the play. This ultimately leads to his demise slowly in his personal life. Everyone let’s pride get in the way of being their true being at some point in their lives several times. Knowing when to not let it at the right times is key to overcoming this deadly sin. Unfortunately, Othello doesn’t realize that before his marriage completely falls apart.