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

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Othello himself is responsible for Desdemona's death. It was a case of premeditated murder. Iago made Othello suspicious and jealous, but there is no proof that he even intended to provoke Othello into killing his wife. It could be argued that Iago, because of his hatred, wanted to spoil Othello's happiness but not that he expected Othello to go so far as to commit a murder. Othello himself seems to be considering an alternative way of dealing with Desdemona in his soliloquy. The logical thing to do would be to seek a divorce or an annulment, yet Othello in his soliloquy beginning, "It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul" says "Yet she must die, else she'll betray more men." (V.2)

He is rationalizing here. He is not concerned about other men she might betray but about setting her free to have intimate relations with other men. He wants to keep sole poasession of her even after her death. His love and his jealousy are both so strong that he loves her while he is strangling her. That is the poignant climax to the play: a man kills the thing he loves best in the world. Shakespeare wanted to make this internal conflict clear.


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