War is in the background story for every type of people since the beginning of time.  People have always found a reason to challenge each other, whether it has been over land, power, religion, betrayal, and so much more.  But war does not always involve armies and battles; war can be in one’s household, one’s emotions, and even in one’s own mind.  These internal and /or external fights are present in almost every piece of writing that can be read.  In Shakespeare’s play, Othello, Othello battles with the trials of his marriage and jealously the same way he learned to battle growing up, in the form of a war.

When Othello talks about his past, it is easy to see the experience he has had in wars. When he is proving his marriage with Desdemona to her father, he says, “From year to year: the battles, sieges, fortunes That I have passed (1.3. 130-131, Shakespeare).” He also tells about the hardship he faced in wars, saying, “Of moving accidents by flood and field, Of hair-breadth scapes I’th’ imminent deadly breach, Of being taken by the insolent foe And sold to slavery; of my redemption thence (1.3. 135-138).”  This lifestyle was his before he met Desdemona, all about war.  Then he divided into two separate lives, one life where he committed to his marriage, and one where he is still a general of the Venetian forces.

But dividing his two lives might have been tough for him, especially since he had lived in one life for so long.   He starts to listen to Iago about the threat of betrayal his wife might be doing; he says, “Farewell the neighing steed and the shrill trump, The spirit-stirring drum, th’ear piercing fife, The royal banner, and all quality, Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war (3.3. 353-356).”  He is comparing a possible downfall of his marriage to a defeat of war, showing that he perceives them in similar ways.  When Iago speaks of false proof of the infidelity, Othello exclaims, “I’ll tear her all to pieces (3.3 433)!”  This is a statement that could be said against an enemy, for example when conspiring against an army he is about to fight.  He plans to murder Desdemona when he says, “I will withdraw To furnish me with some swift means of death For the fair devil (3.3 476-478).”   He continues to strategize with Iago against his wife and Cassio, the man he thinks she is having an affair with.  Later in the play, he goes into battle.

Othello attacks Desdemona in front of others when he strikes her, shouting, “Devil (4.1. 233)!” He takes it further when murders her, saying, “It is too late. Being done, there is no pause (5.2 83-85),” while he smoothers her. He battles with her with his language before, questioning, “Out, strumpet!- Weep’st thou for him to my face (5.2 79)?”  Othello dares his enemy to confess to a crime before finishing her off.  To take his marriage this far, in planning and conspiring against his wife, and eventually killing her, it shows that Othello handles his conflicts the way he learned to, in the form of war.

Othello grew up with blood and pain surrounding him, showing that as long as he knew how to fight and win, everything would be okay.  This carries him to new places, to meet new people, and to new positions in the world. He moves up in life before this script, becoming the general of the Venetian forces, but his past does not prepare him for marriage.  This leads him to treat his marriage and the suspicions of it like a war.  He plots against his wife as soon as doubt about her commitment is brought to him, because it is the only way he learned how to deal with possible betrayal.  This leads him to murder her, and once he finds out about how this flaw made him cut short his loving marriage, he commits suicide.  This demonstrates the impact of the lessons we learn while growing up and how being accustomed to such extremes can result in unfortunate events.

author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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