What examples are there of passion in Othello that leads to the destruction or demise of the central characters?Eg: Desdemona tries passionately to help Cassio, declaring 'for thy solicitor shall...

What examples are there of passion in Othello that leads to the destruction or demise of the central characters?

Eg: Desdemona tries passionately to help Cassio, declaring 'for thy solicitor shall rather die than give away thy cause'. The more she tries to help Cassio, the worse it gets as Othello is suspicious that they are having an affair.

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Othello is full of passionate speeches by its male protagonists: Othello, Iago, Roderigo, and Cassio.  All four males compete publicly not only over Desdemona but their status in the male military hierarchy.  As such, they come across as alazons, those who arrogantly think they are better than they really are.  The women, however, are intimately passionate about their roles as victims at the hands of men.

In Act I, Roderigo is so overly-passionate about his love for Desdemona that he stalks her at night and nearly kills himself when he learns of her elopement with a black man.  Roderigo is pure "id," and, like a selfish-child, he pouts and rants and raves when he doesn't get his way.

Iago is passionate in his dealings with Roderigo (he talks him out of suicide), Othello (he gets him jealous), and Cassio (he tricks him into talking to Desdemona).  Mostly, though, Iago is passionate toward the audience in his soliloquies in which he believes Othello has slept with his wife.  Also, Iago is angry at Othello and jealous of Cassio for being passed over by a military promotion.  Overall, Iago is full of passionate revenge.  Like Satan, Iago is an agent of chaos: he wants to destroy all natural order, even if it brings his own self-destruction.

After Cassio stabs the governor, he is uber-passionate about his reputation.  He says it is the equivalent of his soul, so he defines himself more on what others think of him than he thinks of himself:

Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have lost
my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of
myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation,
Iago, my reputation!

Cassio is not the only beast in the play; Othello turns into a "green-eyed monster" because of jealousy and reputation.  Othello is passionate in Act I as he pleas for the Duke's favor in condoning his marriage.  Even though he says he is "Rude...in...speech, And little bless'd with the soft phrase of peace," Othello is a master of pathos, emotional argument used to persuade others.  During the middle of the play, however, he becomes the personification of jealousy, muttering little more than seizure-induced ravings about killing Desdemona:

Death and damnation! O!

In the end, Othello's final monologue is passionate, not about his remorse for killing his wife, but for protecting his vaunted self-image, even after death.

The women of the play are passionate privately and in smaller doses.  Desdemona, like Othello, is passionate in the Senate as she explains her elopement, but she is curiously silent in her deathbed scene.  Likewise, Emilia is quiet during most of her husband's revenge plan, but she finds her passionate voice at the end, only after Desdemona's death.  In the end it is Emilia's passionate plea against her husband that finally exposes him as the source of evil.  Ironically, her passionate speech brings about her death as well as the truth.

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