How Does Othello’s Attitude Towards Desdemona Change

How does Othello’s attitude towards Desdemona change towards the end of the play? Throughout the play Othello’s feelings for Desdemona seem to change, from feelings of pure adoration to jealousy and betrayal. However, one thing remains constant, an intense passion in his emotions towards her. To begin, in the extract Othello uses a high volume of religious lexis to explain his pain at what he believes Desdemona has done (committed adultery with Cassio).

From lines 47-52 Othello describes how he would rather contract any ‘affliction’ than to be betrayed by Desdemona, this implies that he now believes his love for Desdemona has turned into a disease that is destroying his strength (could also be related to the fits he suffers and bouts of insanity towards the end).

Also these lines are a direct reference to the Old Testament (Book of Job) and this may have been picked up on by many of the highly religious audience during the period it was written in; making the meaning behind his words more comprehendible and relevant. However, as the extract progresses, Othello’s language deteriorate dramatically into a crass and vulgar tone, much like the instigator of the situation, Cassio.

The torrent of religious terminology (which perhaps could be conceived as a more educated and upper class tone) is abruptly ended when Othello calls Desdemona an ‘Impudent Strumpet’, this is a sign that Othello has given up beating around the PROVERBIAL BUSH and is now willing to confront Desdemona’s actions in order for her to admit it. The word ‘strumpet’ was a more commonly used word for ‘whore’ during this period and certainly would have shocked the audience (as it still would today). The fact that this name calling is done using exclamatives way implies Othello’s anger towards his wife.

This scene in itself is really the first occasion in the play that Othello confronts Desdemona regarding the suspicions of her so is written in a different context to another episode in the play where the two share a drawn-out conversation, Desdemona’s murder, for example, here though, Othello is interrogating her, not yet sure himself on what he believes, this becomes apparent to the audience between lines 70-80, when it seems as if Othello’s levels of anger and fury are rising, the constant use of repetition through rhetorical questions; “What committed? shows Othello’s paranoia, shows he is really verbally attacking her and right now has no feeling of trust towards Desdemona. An obvious episode in the play to compare to sets of lexical choices between Othello and Desdemona is in Act 5 scene 2, where Othello smothers Desdemona, much has happened in the plot between these two episodes and that becomes instantly apparent when observing the dialogue.

The length of sentences is clearly on contrast to Act 4 scene 2, this is showing the sheer level of their heated argument, also that they are not really thinking about what they are saying anymore, especially in Othello’s case, who clearly now has no regards left for his once love Desdemona’s feeling, ordering; “Down strumpet! ”.

It is also fair to say that the two episodes are written in completely different context to each other, Act 4 scene 2 Othello is quizzing Desdemona for the first time, his sentences are long and declarative, whereas Act 5 scene 2, being the climax of the play, Othello has seen all of his ‘proof’ that Desdemona has committed adultery and has had his mind made up, will no longer take anything Desdemona has to say into consideration, as he is blinded by furious rage.

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