Othello Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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Who is to blame for Desdemona's death in the play Othello, The Moor of Venice?

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After he has killed Desdemona, Othello pleads, "speak of me as I am," and describes himself as "one not easily jealous, but being wrought / Perplex'd in the extreme." He himself seems to be suggesting here that the blame for Desdemona's death should lie upon those who drove Othello to do it, rather than upon Othello herself.

If we look at Othello's words as he is killing his wife, however, there is no doubt that his act would be interpreted as one of calculated murder with motive: Othello knows what he is doing and intends to do it. When Desdemona begs for her life, Othello says, "There is no pause," and when he thinks Desdemona may not be quite dead, he strives to ensure, being "cruel" but "yet merciful," that she is truly gone. Even if Iago had not told any lies, and Desdemona had indeed been "false as water," this is not an excuse or valid reason for Othello to kill her. His actions here are his own alone; his behavior in response to these lies told about his wife gives only an...

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