Close Reading: Othello
Othello is a man of romantic nature. He has fell in love with the beautiful Desdemona. He was accused of stealing her away from her father. Othello was of a different race and did not fit in with her family. Othello makes a plea for Desdemona and tells his story which wooed her to begin with. Othello tells of the love that her father showed him since his boyish days. This was like a match made in heaven that overcame many obstacles which got in their way. Othello could not understand why he was good enough to work and fight alongside of her father, but was not good enough for his daughter.
Othello proved that he was once in Desdemona’s father’s favor. There is no better way to prove this than when Othello said in lines 127-131 in 1.3:
Her father loved me, oft invited me,
Still questioned me the story of my life
From year to year, the battles, sieges, fortunes
That I have passed.
I ran it through even from my boyish days
Othello was showing that the connections were there for years. He and Desdemona have known each other since childhood. Othello tried to explain that there was no poison, only a story of events in his life and that she had pity for him. Desdemona showed bravery and mannish demeanor, which Othello fell in love with. Even with all the invites, battles, sieges, and fortunes they shared he still would not consent to his daughter marriage to Othello. Racism was very much alive even as far back as Shakespeare.
However, in lines 133 – 135 in 1.3 Othello says,
To th’ very moment that he bade me tell it,
Wherein I spoke of most disastrous chances,
Of moving accidents by flood and field,
Of hair-breadth scapes I’th’ imminent deadly breach,
This is where Othello is describing all the apparels in which he had been through in his life. He is trying to convince her that he deserves a love like hers. By telling the same story to her father, he hopes to convince her father that same indulgence should be deserving in his eyes as well. Othello goes on to say in lines 135- 141, 1.3:
Of being taken by the insolent foe
And sold to slavery, of my redemption thence,
And portance in my traveller’s history,
Wherein of antres vast and deserts idle,
Rough quarries, rocks, and hills whose heads touch heaven,
It was my occasion to speak. Such was my story,
Othello is pleading his case to Desdemona’s father for her hand in marriage by showing the extremes in which he had been through in order to get to the point in life that he has reached. One can’t help but to wonder how much is exaggerated, or made to look worse than actually was. It was a story that would win any ladies heart. She felt sorry for him like a mother to her injured child.
In as much, Othello went on to say in lines 142 – 145, 1.3
And of the cannibals that each other eat,
The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads
Do grow beneath their shoulders. These things to hear
Would Desdemona seriously incline,
Here Othello is saying...