'Othello' is one of William Shakespeare's major works that revolves around tragedy and love. Various themes are brought out in this play. They are analyzed differently by various scholars in the literary world. The major theme is love. In this paper, we want to figure out whether Othello really loves Desdemona. To do so, we analyze what others have been said about it. We shall also determine whether Desdemona requites Othello's love and vice versa. Critics have argued on this subject differently albeit at some point, some tend to agree with each other. In analyzing the theme of love, we pick Russell Brown's Studying Shakespeare and Alexander's Shakespeare's Comedy of Love. In these texts, the relationship between Othello and Desdemona are evenly brought out (Legatt 130).
Russell believes that there is love between Othello and Desdemona. For instance, Russell picks out the way Othello greets Desdemona on arrival at Cyprus. Othello really cherishes the reunion and takes it as a sign of great affection by referring to her as his 'soul's joy with aloud cry'. The suggestion that Desdemona is his soul's joy is a symbol of care since for something or someone to do that there ought to be liking and reverence. The love for Desdemona is also evidenced by the fact that Othello is willing to fight for her. When Desdemona's father who is the king, questions Othello why he has taken his daughter, he takes his stand by defending her and their relationship. Therefore in this context, there is love between the two. Desdemona's acceptance to elope and live with the moor shows her affection to him (Russell 45).
Russell also argues that Othello seems a regretful man over the circumstances that lead to Desdemona's alleged unfaithfulness to him. Othello is surprised why heaven has turned to hell. To him, this is incredible and ponders over the issue as a man who is crazed and turned into a stranger by the one person he loves (Russell 1- 45).
In the Elements of Drama, Styan looks at this situation differently by claiming that it is actually Desdemona who loves Othello and not the other way round. He picks out the manner in which Othello reacts on getting the news that Desdemona was not faithful to him. Styan corroborates his take by pointing out that Othello insinuates that Desdemona is a whore and by saying that his house has been taken as a brothel. This is further fueled by the way Othello questions Desdemona even to a point where he asks her who he is to her to which Desdemona replies that she is his wife. Othello pursues the issue further when he asks her to swear upon herself to which Desdemona swears to the heavens that she has been faithful. Styan argues that Othello does not take it easily when he says that Desdemona is as false as hell. The fact that there is no trust between Othello and his wife Desdemona indicates that their love is a one-sided affair (Styan 38).
Desdemona's love is further brought out when she defends the allegations with passion and goes to the extent of swearing by the heavens that they are false. She ingratiates herself in a prayer where she asks the heavens to bless them and that their love would increase as their days grow. Othello grudgingly answers amen to her prayer (Styan 33).
Surprisingly, both Russell and Styan come to an agreement that the themes presented in the play portray allegations and mistrust. Both Othello and Desdemona are victims of an ill society that is full of malice and jealousy as propagated by the likes of Iago and Emilia. Therefore, we are called not to judge this couple since as a man and wife, there must be mutual agreement between them.
In my view, the issue has a different side. From the text we find out that Desdemona loves Othello just because of the stories of Othello's prowess and conquering and those which she has experienced while with him. Furthermore, Othello is a man in authority and she takes prestige and relish being under his supreme halo. Similarly, Othello does not like her. This is shown by the way he reacts towards her and more so when he calls her a whore despite her efforts at proving her innocence and by swearing. Othello takes Desdemona's actions as hypocritically propagated. He even insinuates that she has kept her office opposite that of Saint Peter at the gates of hell. This shows that he is less compassionate of the poor Desdemona who is a victim of Iago and Emilia's ploys. Therefore, for me, Desdemona loves Othello.