Examples of Love and War in the play Othello

Love and Conflicts in Othello, by William Shakespeare

            The themes of the play focus on love, hate, revenge and abuse of power resulting to deaths due to friendship that went sour. The plot of the play revolves around the main character Othello, a respected and courageous army commandant who has a loving wife Desdemona. The chain of hatred is sparked by Iago, who also serves in the army, after he gets furious when Othello chooses Cassio to be his right-hand man instead of him as he expected. He immediately turns enemies with Othello and Cassio, so he plots to take revenge to split them up. He sets up Othello’s wife by hiding a souvenir handkerchief she got from him near Cassio’s belongings and makes sure Othello finds out about it. Othello, believing that Desdemona has an affair with his lieutenant, vows to kill them both which came to happen with Iago’s assistance. There is a trail of deaths that follows; Iago kills wealthy Roderigo, who paid him to spy on Othello because he wanted to snatch Desdemona from him. Othello conspired with Iago to kill Cassio for having an affair with his wife but failed; he manages to strangle his innocent wife though then kills himself when he finds out Desdemona never cheated on him. Iago stabs his wife Emilia to death because she would not keep quiet about how he set up the whole thing and revealing that he had killed Roderigo (Shakespeare & Neill, 2006)

Love does go well with honesty, distrust however, kills love and leads to tragic consequences especially in situations where one spouse or partner seems to sacrifice a lot to keep the love they share. Several characters in the play have illustrated love, starting with Othello and Desdemona who fell in love and married. Her father, Brabantio, loved his daughter and did not seem ready to let her get married. This created the first war is the play, between Othello and Brabantio, the father claiming that his daughter was being abused by Othello. He accuses Othello of using magic on his daughter and bewitching her to have an intimate relation with her, believing that there is no love between them. He is so furious with the General he goes to the authorities hoping to win her daughter back, but they declare their love before the Duke and they are allowed to stay together as long as they loved each other. It is also revealed that Brabantio has a silent war with her daughter for siding with Othello and the authorities. He warns Othello to be careful with her because he believed she could deceive him as much as she did to her father.

Emilia loves her husband Iago and she was ready to support him in anything to make him happy. Both Emilia and Desdemona are loyal to their husbands and sacrifice a lot just to please them. Emilia was the one who found the handkerchief, gave it to Iago and because of love would not interfere with his plans to ruin the Othello’s relationship with Desdemona. Love also comes with trust as seen in the case of Brabantio and Emilia. Brabantio would not believe in Othello and holds that he had something to do with his daughter falling in love with him. He would not believe Desdemona had anything to do with their marriage and sought to find out the truth. He relates the Turks’ invasion to Cyprus, a war that Othello is sent to fight in, to the war he won over his daughter. Emilia on the other hand, is blinded by love and trusts that her husband does nothing wrong lying about Desdemona’s unfaithfulness (Shakespeare & Neill, 2006)

There is conflict between Iago and Roderigo on one side and Othello on the other. Othello has something Roderigo wants, Desdemona, and he tries to do everything he can just to get Othello out of the way. Iago’s anger builds up after Othello did not choose him to be his lieutenant, and so the two quickly conspire to target Othello. Roderigo gives Iago many gifts and jewels intended for Desdemona, but which never reached her because of Iago’s lust and selfishness. Roderigo does not think twice when Iago comes up with another plan to avenge Othello, and this time it is to Iago’s favor. They want to make Cassio drunk so that he sleeps on his job, which would mean his demotion, or he would lose his job. Here, Iago is still fighting for the position he lost to Cassio and will not rest until he gets his revenge. The plan succeeds, Cassio gets drunk and fights with Roderigo and some other leaders. Iago replaces him immediately and as if it was not enough, plots on his second mission, to poison Othello’s mind that Cassio sneaks around his wife Desdemona (Shakespeare & Neill, 2006)

Othello’s love for his job as a soldier made him weaker on other aspects outside the administrative chore. He knew he was respected and looked up to so he had to display the qualities of a leader, carrying out disciplinary actions without considering the truth. His attention to his responsibilities made him unconscious of other people’s needs. It completely blinded him not to take his time, open his eyes and investigate the accusations against his friends and his wife. As a result, he turned an enemy to Cassio and Desdemona with the claims that they had had an affair behind his back. He ends up killing his wife and himself after being told the truth by Emilia. Before he dies, he wants to get hold of Iago and kill him after he learns that he was lying all along and he was the one who caused all the deaths.

By the end of the play, everyone would turn against Iago and go to war with him. He worked his way up very cleanly and carefully until the last minute. It would be true to say that he had fallen in love with his job of going behind people’s backs in sighting them against each other. He did not care what others went through because of his actions, he only cared about himself and his gains. He knew that eventually Roderigo would come after him when he realized he had not been straight with him, and that the jewels meant for Desdemona never got to her. He pretends to set up a way, in which Roderigo would kill Cassio in the streets, but at the back of his mind, he did not care who hurt the other, in fact, he wanted both of them dead, which would ease, eliminate Roderigo. Love might have driven Roderigo to conspire in the killings in a bid to get what he wanted, that is Desdemona.

The main theme of the play should have to be revenge because that is what drives the whole story. The audience waits eagerly to know if the characters ended up with what they intended to gain. Love is not very outstanding as a theme and not all the characters are connected by love, although it is because of love that pushed Othello to avenge his wife’s alleged deception and dishonesty.


















Shakespeare, W., & Neill, M. (2006). Othello, the Moor of Venice. London: Oxford University Press

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