“She loved me for the dangers I had pass’d, and I loved her that she did pity them” (Othello, I. iii 166-167). William Shakespeares tragedy “Othello,” is pervaded by a dominant theme, one of love. Othello, the Moor of Venice falls madly in love with a woman named Desdemona. They marry and are very happy together. Othello and Desdemona face many trials during the course of their nine-month marriage. The most notable one occurs when Barbanzio, Desdemonas father accuses Othello of getting his daughter with witchcraft.
During a court hearing, Desdemona confesses her love for Othello and Barbanzio is forced to let her go. “I am hitherto your daughter: but here’s my husband, and so much duty as my mother show’d to you, preferring you before her father, so much I challenge that I may profess due to the Moor my lord” (Othello, I. iii 184-188) As the course of events shift, Othello and Desdemona end up in Cyprus together. Iago, ensign to Othello, in his lust for power, tricks Othello into believing that Desdemona has had an affair.
Othello is overcome by jealousy, the “green eyed monster. O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; it is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on” (Othello, III. iii 169-171) In his rage, Othello charges Iago with the killing of Cassio, his lieutenant who supposedly slept with his wife. Othello then plans to kill Desdemona. Even during the course of the killing, Othello maintains his love for Desdemona (although this might seem a contradiction. ) He refuses to defile her body in any way. “Yet I’ll not shed her blood; nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow, and smooth as monumental alabaster. Othello, V. ii 3-5)
He then proceeds to choke or smother her to death. The theme of love in Othello changed from puppy love, the lighter side of love, to jealousy, the darkest side of love. In stark contrast to the dark and tragic “Othello,” is one of Shakespeares lightest and funniest comedies, “Twelfth Night. ” The theme of love is presented in a highly comical manner. Shakespeare, however, once again proves himself a master by interweaving serious elements into humorous situations.
Twelfth Night” consists of many love triangles, however many of the characters who are tangled up in the web of love are blind to see that their emotions and feelings toward other characters are untrue. They are being deceived by themselves and/or the others around them. There are certain instances in the play where the emotion of love is true, and the two people involved feel very strongly toward one another. Orsino, the duke of Illyria, is in love with Olivia. Olivia, however, decreed that due to her brothers death, she will not see a man for seven years. This does nothing to dissuade Orsino.
In fact, it encourages him. Orsino was more in love with the idea of love, than he was in love with Olivia. Viola’s, one of a shipwrecks survivors love for Orsino is a great example of true love. Although she is pretending to be a man and is virtually unknown in Illyria, she hopes to win the Duke’s heart. Viola eventually let’s out her true feelings for Orsino. “Yet a barful strife! Whoe’er I woo, myself would be his wife (Twelfth Night, I. iv 41-42). ” That statement becomes true when Viola reveals her true identity. Viola and Orsino were close friends, and making the switch to husband and wife was easy.
Viola was caught up in another true love scenario, only this time she was on the receiving end, and things didn’t work out as well. During her attempts to court Olivia for Orsino, Olivia grew to love Cesario who was in fact Viola posing as a boy. Viola was now caught in a terrible situation and there was only one way out, but that would jeopardize her chances with Orsino. In scenes where feelings are intense, such as Olivia declaration of love for Cesario, Shakespeare balances this seriousness and lightens the atmosphere with rhyming couplets.
I love thee so, that, maugre all thy pride, nor wit nor reason can my passion hide. ” (Twelfth Night, III. i 142-143. ) The pain Olivia is obviously feeling balances the ironic high comedy. In the end, everything works out and Orsino marries Viola. Throughout his works, Shakespeare portrays love in many ways. The dark love of “Othello” ends in death and tragedy, and the light love of “Twelfth Night” ends in laughter and merrymaking. No one portrayal is correct. By depicting love so differently, Shakespeare is showing us that the truth lies somewhere in the middle.