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Hath ta’en your part, to have so much to do
Othello's confidence, at first only staggered by broken hints and insinuations, recovers itself at sight of Desdemona; and he exclaims
“ If she be false, O then Heav'n mocks itself :
But presently after, on brooding over his suspicions by himself, and yielding to his apprehensions of the worst, his smothered jealousy breaks out into open fury, and he returns to demand satisfaction of Iago, like a wild beast stung with the envenomed shaft of the hunters. “ Look where he comes,” &c. In this state of exasperation and violence, after the first paroxysms of his grief and tenderness have had their vent in that passionate apostrophe, “I felt not Cassio's kisses on her lips," lago by false aspersions, and by presenting the most revolting images to his mind,* easily turns the storm of passion from himself against Desdemona, and works him up into a trembling agony of doubt and fear, in which he abandons all his love and hopes in a breath.
" Now do I see 'tis true. Look here, lago,
* See the passage beginning, “ It is impossible you should see this, were they as prime as goats," &c.
Arise, black vengeance, from the hollow hell;
From this time, his raging thoughts
never look back, ne'er ebb to humble love” till his revenge is sure of its object, the painful regrets and involuntary recollections of past circumstances, which cross bis mind amidst the dim trances of passion, aggravating the sense of his wrongs, but not shaking his purpose. Once, indeed, where lago shews him Cassio with the handkerchief in his hand, and making sport (as he thinks) of his misfortunes, the intolerable bitterness of his feelings, the extreme sense of shame, makes him fall to praising her accomplishments and relapse into a momentary fit of weakness, “ Yet, Oh the pity of it, Iago, the pity of it!" This returning fond ness however only serves, as it is managed by Iago, to whet his revenge, and set his heart more against her. In his conversations with Desdemona, the persuasion of her guilt and the immediate proofs of her duplicity seem to irritate his resentment and aversion to her ; but in the scene immediately preceding her death, the recollection of his love returns upon him in all its tenderness and force; and after her death, he all at once forgets his wrongs in the sudden an irreparable sense of his loss.
“My wife! My wife ! What wise? I have no wife.
This happens before he is assured of her innoa cence; but afterwards his remorse is as dreadful as
his revenge has been, and yields only to fixed and death-like despair. His farewell speech, before he kills himself, in which he conveys his reasons to the senate for the murder of his wife, is equal to the first speech in which he gave them an account of his courtship of her, and “his whole course of love.” Such an ending was alone worthy of such a commencement,
If any thing could add to the force of our sympathy with Othello, or compassion for his fate, it would be the frankness and generosity of his nature, which so little deserve it. When lago first begins to practice upon his unsuspecting friendship, be answers
6 "Tis not to make me jealous,
This character is beautifully (and with affecting sinaplicity) confirmed by what Desdemona herself says of him to Æmilia after she has lost the handkerchief, the first pledge of his love to her.
“ Believe me, I had rather have lost my purse
Æmilia. Is he not jealous ?
In a short speech of Æmelia's, there occurs one of those side intimations of the fluctuations of passion which we seldom meet with but in Shakspeare. After Othello has resolved upon the death of his wife, and bids her dismiss her attendant for the night, she answers,
"I will, my Lord.
Æmilia. How goes it now ? He looks gentler than he did."
Shakspeare has here put into half a line what some authors would have spun out into ten set speeches.
The character of Desdemona herself is inimitable both in itself, and as it contrasts with Othel. lo's groundless jealousy, and with the foul conspiracy of which she is the innocent victim. Her beauty and external graces are only indirectly glanced at; we see “ her visage in her mind;" her character every where predominates over her per
A maiden never bold :
There is one fine compliment paid to her by Cassio, who exclaims triumphantly when she comes ashore at Cyprus after the storm,
" Tempests themselves, high seas, and howling winds,
In general, as is the case with most of Shakspeare's females, we lose sight of her personal charms
in her attachment and devotedness to her husband. " She is subdued even to the very quality of her lord;" and to Othello's “honours and his valiant parts her soul and fortunes consecrates." The lady protests so much herself, and she is as good as her word. The truth of conception, with which timidity and boldness are united in the same character, is marvellous. The extravagance of her resolutions, the pertinacity of her 'affections, may be said to arise out of the gentleness of her nature. They imply an unreserved reliance on the purity of her own intentions, an entire surrender of her fears to her love, a knitting of herself (heart and soul) to the fate of another. Bating the commencement of her passion, which is a little fantastical and headstrong (though even that may perhaps be consistently accounted for from her inability to resist a rising inclination*) her whole character consists in having no will of her own, no prompter but her obedience. Her romantick turn is only a consequence of the domestick and practical part of her disposition; and instead of following Othello to the wars, she would gladly have "remained at home a moth of peace,” if her husband could have staid with her. Her resignation and angelick sweetness of temper do pot desert her at the last.
The scenes in which she laments and tries to account for Othello's estrangement from her are exquisitely beautiful. After he has struck her, and called her names,
*" Tago. Ay, too gentle.
Olhello. Nay, that's certain."