“Their love is too idealistic ever to end in happiness.” To what extent do you agree with this view of Shakespeare’s dramatic presentation of Othello and Desdemona in this extract and elsewhere in the play?

In Shakespeare’s romance plays, for example in Romeo and Juliet, a large emphasis is placed on idealistic love which does not usually end well for these two lovers. His written romances are strong, often overly-passionate and liberated which help the audience understand the extent of love in these relationships. However, they can also be described as extremely idealistic, and give unrealistic expectations of love. Many romances in Shakespeare's tragedies end in imbalance and death. Othello and Desdemona’s love is arguably extremely strong, perhaps even over-powerful on Othello’s side, which could be seen as either idealistic to an extreme or, to certain critics, entirely fake.In Othello, some could believe that indeed their love is too idealistic to ever end in happiness. At the start of the extract, Othello opens with ‘O my fair warrior!’. This exclamation suggests a serious excitement and love towards Desdemona. The use of ‘warrior’ as a term of endearment conveys an admiration of Desdemona, but could also be an unrealistic and therefore idealistic view of Desdemona as a so-called ‘warrior’, in a literal sense but also a metaphorical sense, which we know she is not. By using war imagery to describe his lover it presents an idea of integration of the two main themes of Othello's life, perhaps suggesting his inability to separate the two. Her reply to him where she calls him ‘my dear Othello’ is much more subdued and in turn helps us see Othello’s line as a deep exaggeration, as her line is much more realistic and perhaps less animate. Throughout the extract, Othello’s words are extreme and passionate, for example he again exclaimed ‘O my soul’s joy’ which conveys his infectious happiness but also, perhaps, a rather childish view on love, which today we may call 'puppy love'. This again shows a rather idealistic view on their love, as this 'puppy love' does not normally last throughout a relationship and indeed does not last for Othello and Desdemona. The contrast of Othello and Desdemona’s remarks helps us see Othello’s idealistic love towards his wife. Othello’s words are strong and powerful, for example ‘my soul hath her content’, where the use of the word ‘soul’ suggests a powerful deep connection of love, and ‘sweet powers’, which shows yet another term of endearment towards Desdemona and therefore suggests his naivety in love and relationships. Othello's words are juxtaposed with Desdemona’s which are sweeter, more concise and perhaps more realistic, for example, her reply to Othello’s wish for death at that moment due to his happiness, ‘the heavens forbid but that our loves… should increase’ which is a much more subtle reply of love in my opinion and suggests an easier tongue with words of love due to her upbringing in Venetian society. Later on in the play, we do see Othello poisoning Desdemona, which of course suggests the idealistic love they have, as this over-powerful and passionate love eventually leads so such strong emotion in Othello that he murders his ‘fair warrior’ in a fierce climax. One could also argue against the view that their love is too idealistic ever to end in happiness. At the end of this extract, Iago states ‘O, you are well turn’d now!’. This exclamation agrees with Othello’s view of his and Desdemona’s harmony in their relationship which suggests Othello’s truthfulness and lack of exaggeration in his statement that ‘this [kiss], the greatest discord be that e’er our hearts shall make’ which suggests kisses are the only absence of harmony their hearts shall ever feel. If even manipulative and relatively evil Iago agrees with the view, perhaps their love is indeed truthful. Desdemona’s replies could also be an indication of their truthful love. Her replies are less idealistic and more realistic, and due to Othello’s naivety, I feel more inclined to believe Desdemona’s idea of their love, which is truthful and happy. She states ‘our loves and comforts should increase even as our days do grow’ which could be a truthful and good response to his powerful declaration. Her understanding of their love is rather dramatically ironic but also true, as their love does grow in a different way expected ultimately to a tragic climax. At the start of the extract, she shares his iam. This was used by Shakespeare to suggest a close bond between characters. This suggests Shakespeare’s inclination to their real and powerful love rather than it being idealistic. At the end of the play Othello, after murdering his wife and making himself a widower, is overrun by such guilt that he takes his own life. This suggests his real and understandable love for Desdemona after his fit of rage. As after he has calmed down, he realises how wrong he was to kill her. This proves his same love and care for her that led to her murder, but also his suicide. In conclusion, I mostly agree with the view that their love is too idealistic ever to end in happiness. This is due to their tragic ending but also Othello’s exaggerated repetitive speech with her, which in my opinion is rather innocent in love but unnecessary and his powerful lust eventually causes both their deaths. In Romeo and Juliet, there is a similar ending of both partners demised due to such a strong and idealistic love, as Romeo prematurely takes his own life at the belief that Juliet is dead. Juliet then kills herself in retaliation, which shows the result of another idealistic and over-passionate love. Whilst it is widely believed Othello and Desdemona love is idealistic, some critics believe their love was not real altogether, and that Desdemona never truly loved Othello. This could also be a cause for the contrast of their remarks. 

Illustration of a video tutorial

Need help with English Literature?

One to one online tuition can be a great way to brush up on your English Literature knowledge.

Have a Free Meeting with one of our hand picked tutors from the UK’s top universities

Find a tutor

Related English Literature A Level answers

All answers ▸

Discuss Christina Rossetti's presentation of love in her poem 'A Triad'.

How do I begin to learn all the texts on my course?

Explore Shakespeare's presentation of honesty in King Lear.

Why does Cordelia have to die in "King Lear"?

We're here to help

contact us iconContact usWhatsapp logoMessage us on Whatsapptelephone icon+44 (0) 203 773 6020
Facebook logoInstagram logoLinkedIn logo

© MyTutorWeb Ltd 2013–2022

Terms & Conditions|Privacy Policy