Othello & Desdemona's Relationship Video

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  • 0:03 Desdemona and Othello
  • 0:31 Desdemona's Father…
  • 1:20 Othello Responds
  • 2:19 Desdemona Tells the Truth
  • 2:51 Othello Is Tricked &…
  • 4:32 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Bryan Cowing

Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years.

In William Shakespeare's ''Othello'', the relationship between Othello and Desdemona changes rapidly. In this lesson, we take a look at how this relationships evolves throughout the play.

Desdemona and Othello

Well, that escalated quickly. This is probably the most accurate way to describe Desdemona and Othello's relationship in William Shakespeare's Othello. First of all, since the relationship involved two people from different racial backgrounds, the story explores and challenges racial perceptions. The relationship itself also changes throughout the play as Othello transitions from a loving husband to a murderous madman.

Desdemona's Father Does Not Approve

Right from the beginning of Othello, the relationship between Desdemona and Othello is an important issue. Two men, Iago and Roderigo, are discussing how upset they are by the fact that Othello and Desdemona are married. Even more, they got married behind the back of Desdemona's father, Brabantio. Iago and Roderigo decide to upset Brabantio by telling him that Othello has stolen Desdemona.

Even without exploring the specific details, the fact that Desdemona and Othello have eloped says much about their commitment to each other. Their sneaky escape also shows that they realize what the world thinks of their relationship. Further, the fact that Iago and Roderigo are planning to use the relationship to enrage Brabantio reveals that Desdemona's father would not approve.

Othello Responds

When the men tell Brabantio that Othello has stolen his daughter, Iago says ''Zounds, sir, you're robb'd; for shame, put on / your gown.' In other words, Brabantio should get dressed and see what has been stolen from him.

Brabantio hunts down Othello and demands that he explains why he stole Desdemona. Othello explains that he did not steal her. Othello was often a guest in Brabantio's home, and Brabantio liked to hear Othello tell stories of his battles. Othello explained that Desdemona 'bade me, if I had a friend that loved her, / I should but teach him how to tell my story. / And that would woo her.' Desdemona told Othello that if anyone told her these stories, she would be in love. Othello took the hint, made his move and won Desdemona's heart.

Brabantio did not accept this answer, so Othello said that he could ask his daughter himself. Othello promised that if Desdemona said she was tricked or deceived, Brabantio could take his life.

Desdemona Tells the Truth

Desdemona arrives and explains that everything Othello said is true. She tells her father, '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.' In other words, just like her own mother chose her husband over her father, Desdemona must do the same thing and choose Othello over her father. This passage shows that Desdemona is committed to Othello, even at the cost of losing her father's affection.

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