Why did Desdemona decide to marry Othello?

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The other characters assume that Othello must have used magic to make Desdemona consent to be his wife. After all, she is young and he is much older, and she is white while he is a Moor. Even a Moor who works in service to the state is still enough of an "other" that a Moor marrying a white woman would be considered shocking. However, Desdemona reveals that she agreed to marry Othello of her own free will and that she was the one who initially pursued him by wanting to hear his war stories.

Desdemona marries Othello because she is intrigued by his adventurous past as a soldier who has been to exotic lands. She overhears his stories about his exploits in foreign lands and later asks him to tell these to her in person. She loves Othello because she views him as a heroic figure, and this matters more to her than the difference in age and race between them.

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At first, Barbantio, Desdemona's father, accuses Othello of using withcraft to win his daughter's love. He has his men capture Othello and plans to bring the case before the Duke in court. However, Othello later reveals the real reason why Desdemona fell in love with him and says that she will confirm his story. Othello is an accomplished officer and solder with a mysterious past. He says that when Barbantio invited him to visit and share his many war stories, Desdemona overheard, and the stories caught her interest. He says that she asked him to retell the stories to her, and when he did, she fell in love with him. 

In short, she agrees to marry him because of his mysterious and heroic stories.

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