Othello and Desdemona’s relationship is doomed from the beginning of the play due to many reasons. Some of which being, racism in 18th century Venice, Brabantio’s attitude, and the vengeance and deceit of Iago, all these themes that Shakespeare has used lead up to a tragic ending to the play. Racism plays a crucial part in Othello, as it was looked down upon for a black person to marry a white person. We can tell this from when Iago tells Brabantio “an old black ram is tupping your white ewe” and if this was not accepted Iago would have not said it. Brabantio is outraged by this and claims that Othello has stolen Desdemona; he even says that Othello has poisoned or put a spell on her “she is abused, stolen from me, and corrupted. By Spells and medicines bought of mountebanks”, which may refer to people thinking that Africans were witch doctors. The fact that Brabantio has gone to these extreme states of mind shows how much Brabantio is against this, even though he respects Othello for his services to the army he does not respect him enough for him to marry his daughter.
Brabantio also does not want Rodrigo to marry his daughter even though he is white so this makes the audience wonder if there is more than race involved when Brabantio objects. Brabantio may think that no one is good enough for his daughter, so even if Othello was white he would still have no chance of getting the respect from Brabantio he wants. Unlike most black people in the 18th century Othello had some respect from high society because he is described as “valiant Othello” by the duke, by having this respected black character in the play Shakespeare is creating contrast because it is unusual and conflict as people do not want to respect Othello because he is black but they do anyway because he is a great fighter, also the country needs him to win the war against the Turkish.
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Iago is a key character in this play as he slyly causes the downfall of Othello and Desdemona’s relationship. Iago is also compared to Janus the two-faced god, which tells the audience he is trouble. Throughout the play Iago plots against Othello with Rodrigo to make Othello and Desdemona split up because Iago wants revenge on Othello ‘I hate the Moor… let us be conjunctive in our revenge against him.’ This is because he chose Cassio to be his lieutenant instead of him. He also gets Rodrigo’s help as Rodrigo is in love with Desdemona. All of this is happening under Othello’s nose as Iago carries on pretending to be Othello’s close friend. Iago talks openly about his hate for Othello ‘though I do hate him as I do hell’s pains, yet, for the necessity of present life, I must show out a flag and sign of love, which is indeed but sign.’ This quote shows that Iago does this to ensure his plan will work and also for him to gain status in Venetian society.
Shakespeare also used age difference as another dramatic effect to indicate Othello and Desdemona’s forbidden love will not work. ‘The story of my life, from year to year – the battles, sieges, fortunes that I have passed.’ This indicates Othello’s experiences and shows that he is older than Desdemona and has done many things. Shakespeare uses this difference in their ages to show the audience that their relationship is doomed. In contrast to Othello’s wisdom, Desdemona is a very na½ve young girl. Brabantio describes ‘Her delicate youth’. Desdemona is very fragile and innocent this is also another hint that her bond with Othello will not last as Othello is a man of the world and has seen and done many things, unlike Desdemona who has hardly ever stepped out of her home let alone left Venice and the guard of her father. Through language, character descriptions, dramatic effects and plot lines Shakespeare obviously tells the audience that the relationship will not work. And is likely not to last.