Wiliam Shakespeare
Contributed by Karim Chandra
Motifs are devices or structures that are used by artists or authors to help in the development of a theme.
Sight and Blindness
At the time when Desdemona is making a request to be allowed to accompany Othello to Cyprus, she makes one of the most compelling statements regarding her love for Othello. Desdemona is saying that, “saw Othello’s visage in his mind, / And to his honors and his valiant parts / Did I my soul and fortunes consecrate” (I.iii. 250–252). In her sight, Desdemona does not see the color of Othello’s skin a significant issue for consideration. While it is Othello is black and that sets him apart from the people around him, Desdemona does not see that as a problem. Furthermore, towards the end of the play, Lodovico makes the following statements to Othello; “Look on the tragic loading of this bed. / This is thy work. The object poisons sight. / Let it be hid” (V.ii.373–375). It is important to note that Shakespeare has presented most of the characters in the play of failing to see things. For instance, Othello accuses his wide of infidelity although he does not see her actions. In the same way, Emilia does not see the intentions of her husband when he asks for the handkerchief, although she sees Othello raging over the missing handkerchief.
There is a strange occupation of Iago with plants. In particular, when he is talking to Roderigo, Iago refers to plants a lot in his statements. For example, he says that,  “Our bodies are our gardens, to which our wills are gardeners; so that if we will plant nettles or sow lettuce, set hyssop and weed up thyme . . . the power and corrigible authority of this lies in our wills” (I.iii.317–322); “Though other things grow fair against the sun, / Yet fruits that blossom first will first be ripe” (II.iii.349–350); “And then, sir, would he gripe and wring my hand, / Cry ‘O sweet creature!’, then kiss me hard, / As if he plucked kisses up by the roots, / That grew upon my lips” (III.iii.425–428). From these statements, it is evident that plants hold a special place at the center of the play. The presentation of these plants in the lay indicate that most of the characters in the play are derived from certain forces and in the event they are not watched, they may have devastating effects.
Hell, Demons and Monsters
There is a plenty reference to hell, demons and monsters in the play. It is notable at some instance that Iago is providing a warning to Othello to beware of jealousy, the “green-eyed monster which doth mock/ The meat it feeds on” (III.iii.170–171). Additionally, Emilia also describes jealousy as a “monster / Begot upon itself, born on itself” (III.iv.156–157). Hell has also made a significant presence in the play. Towards the end of the play, Othello has suddenly become preoccupied with moral judgements and he starts thinking about hell. Othello wishes for a physical and spiritual torture in hell. He says, Whip me, ye devils, / . . . / . . . roast me in sulphur, / Wash me in steep-down gulfs of liquid fire!” (V.ii.284–287).  Likewise, in his dream about Desdemona’s infidelity, Othello deems it as “monstrous, monstrous!” (III.iii.431).
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