How is fate portrayed in Othello?

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In act 5, scene 2, Othello cries, "Who can control his fate?" as he looks around at the ruins of his life, particularly his beloved Desdemona, who is now dead because of his own cruelty. Through the conflict they face, their love seems fated to end tragically.

Iago treats Othello unfairly at least in part because of Othello's race. When he is trying to rouse Brabantio's feelings of anger against Othello, Iago resorts to racist insults:

Even now, now, very now, an old black ram
Is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise!
Awake the snorting citizens with the bell,
Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you. (I.i.97–100)

Being born as a Black man was part of Othello's fate, yet it causes men like Iago and Brabantio to see him as unworthy of the fair Desdemona's love.

There are other examples of fate that further the conflict in the story. One crucial example is the moment when Desdemona accidentally loses the handkerchief that Othello had given to her. This becomes a central point of conflict in the play, as Othello comes to believe that this is evidence of his wife's infidelity.

By nature, Othello is also a jealous man, which is linked to his demise. He is fated to see evidence that convinces him that his wife is unfaithful despite her protests. When he watches Cassio laughing with Iago, Othello mistakenly believes that this is evidence of Cassio's affair with Desdemona.

In his remorse, Othello reflects that Desdemona was an "ill-starred wench" (V.ii.286), her tragic fate written in the stars; thus, Othello was also fated to meet a tragic end the moment he fell in love with her.

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