“Think on thy sins” (5.2.43) he says, “They are loves I bear to you” (5.2.44) I respond. “Ay, and for that thou diest” (5.2.45). There is no pleading with my lord, his once amorous filled eyes are now brimming with anger, and anguish. This whole conversation has turned my mind into mush. How can he think that I would ever love Cassio? Is it not plain that he, Othello, is my lord and the only object of my affection? Does it not matter? I think it doesn’t. Othello’s whole body is shaking (5.2.50) and his eyes are rolling (5.2.41), these signs do not bode well for my life. Worse yet, he has already had Cassio killed. “Oh, banish me, my lord, kill me not!” (5.2.88) I beg, “Down, Strumpet,” he is undeterred (5.2.89). “It is too late” (5.2.95). I am not sure if I thought that, or if Othello said it. Either way, it is too late. His strong, calloused fingers are clutching my throat, violently squeezing until all of the air leaves my lungs. Spots- I see spots. Brightly colored yellow, red and blue spots. The spots grow and take shape. Images and scenes from my life are passing before my eyes, and then it hits me. “O, falsely, falsely murdered!” I cry (5.2.126). Emilia is here, “… Sweet Desdemona, O sweet mistress, speak!” she begs (5.2.131). I must tell her, “A guiltless death I die” (5.2.132). “O, who hath done this deed?” Emilia inquires (5.2.133). She has to know the truth, “Nobody, I myself. Farewell. Commend me to my kind lord. O, farewell” (5.2.134-135).
As the saying goes, hindsight is always twenty-twenty. For Desdemona, this is especially true. Desdemona was innocent and naïve to a fault. Her determination to mend the relationship between Cassio and Othello, only served to nourish the seed of doubt that was planted in Othello’s mind by Iago. Like everyone else in the play, Desdemona unknowingly played into the plans Iago had set. She, however, is unaware of Iago’s involvement and therefore concludes that her actions were the cause of Othello’s anger, and the reason for her death and, in her mind, Cassio’s murder.
Before he kills her, Othello accuses Desdemona of giving the special handkerchief, which he gave her, to Cassio by stating, “That handkerchief which I so loved and gave thee, thou gav’st to Cassio” (5.2.50-51). In the same line, Othello also implies that Desdemona had an affair with Cassio, which is evident by Desdemona’s response,
And have you mercy, too. I never did
Offend you in my life, never loved Cassio
But with such general warranty of heaven
As I might love. I never gave him token. (5.2.64-67)
There are the two major reasons for Desdemona’s death. First, Othello believes she has been unfaithful. Second, and more specifically, Othello is certain that Desdemona has been unfaithful with Cassio, his second in command. This conviction stems from Iago’s testimony, Cassio’s faulty testimony and the fact that Othello saw Cassio with his handkerchief. The events that occurred in the play, and Desdemona’s subsequent...