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Shakespeare’s Othello – Othello and Desdemona

Othello and Desdemona

In the play, The Tragedy of Othello, Shakespeare really tests our conception as to what love is, and where it can or can’t exist. Judging from the relationship between Desdemona and Othello, the play seems to say that marriage based on an innocent romantic love or profane love is bound to fail. Shakespeare is pessimistic about the existence and survival of a true type of love. There is a common thread of betrayal and deceit among his female characters, especially. Othello and Desdemona, as portrayed in the play, are the two greatest innocents there ever were. The two appear to love one another romantically at first, but this romantic love becomes more of a profane love, or more likely was truly a profane love all along. This comes to pass because there is no foundation for a relationship here. There is no trust, no communication, and no understanding. Othello has spent most of his life in battle, which makes him good at some things– namely, battle. Othello says “Rude am I in my speech,/ and little bless’d with the soft phrase of peace;/ for since these arms of mine had seven years’ pith,/ Till now some nine moons wasted, they have us’d/ Their dearest action in the tented field;/ And little of this great world can I speak/ More than pertains to feats of broils and battle” (1113). Desdemona is little more that a girl, inexperienced in the ways of the world. She is taken in by Othello’s war stories. Desdemona takes one look at the hunk of burning love that is Othello, his virility and manliness, and she is swept off her feet. But is this a true love? She speaks so fondly of him, yet hardly knows him. As she defends her newly born love for Othello, Desdemona says (among other things), “My downright violence, and storm of fortunes,/ May trumpet to the world. My heart’s subdu’d/ Even to the very quality of my lord./ I saw Othello’s visage in his mind,/ And to his honors and his valiant parts/ Did I my soul and fortune consecrate.” (1118). I can say from experience that in the “Magic Time”, the first part of the relationship, some things are said that maybe affected by Love’s blindness. Put these two together, and you have the equivalent of a couple of kids playing doctor. The two big clumsy babies “fumbling towards ecstasy” might have actually made it if they were free from outside forces.

Moving Beyond Motherhood in The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Since its original publication in The New England Magazine in May 1892 and its subsequent resurrection by modern feminists in the l970’s, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s novella, “The Yellow Wallpaper” has gone through varied interpretations. When it was originally written, “The Yellow Wallpaper” was considered a tale of horror, so horrible in fact, that one editor, Horace Scudder of the Atlantic Monthly, refused the work because he did not want to make others as miserable as he was when he read it. Even as late as 1971, Gilman’s work was anthologized under the category of horror (Kennard 75).

It was not until the work was rediscovered and republished in 1973 that modern feminist critics recognized the female hero as a victim of society (Kennard 75). However, “The Yellow Wallpaper” is more than a story with a fictional character; it is the story of its creator. Gilman, as well as her heroine, suffered through postpartum depression. She not only had to fight the depression and isolation of being a mother but also the social mores of the time which did not condone career-minded mothers. Society’s prime guardians of the status quo in this instance were the medical doctors who found it necessary to treat women who were less than happy in their domestic roles. In her case, the treatment was administered by Dr. S. Weir Mitchell for whom Gilman stated she wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper” (The Living of CPG 121). Gilman recognized that she needed to escape the confinement of the home before she could become a career woman who also happened to be a mother. It was through “The Yellow Wallpaper” that the transition from homebound mother to career mother began.

The feelings she experienced as a new mother were not unlike those of ma…

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…Gilman: An Autobiography. New York and London: D. Appleton-Century Co. (1935)

Rpt. As The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman. New York: Harper

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