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"To Whom Shall I Lend My Pity"

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 02:23 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 54 
  • Words: 330
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This question plagues the mind of a reader. In reading fiction, one’s first reaction is always to seek out a character with whom they can relate, who they can support, who they can side with. The play, Othello poses quite a confusing collection of possibilities for this.

Shall we lend our pity to the title character, Othello-- a valiant Moor who is held in incredibly high esteem by all who know him, yet is influenced by Iago to suspect his wife, Desdemona of infidelity. Or should our pity be lent to Desdemona? Fair and innocent, she is hurled into a world of accusations and lies that ultimately lead to her death. Certainly, this would be a most practical sympathy.

Any sympathy lent to Emilia, however (regardless of her supposed loyalty to Desdemona), is infinitely lost once she betrays dear Desdemona in order to fulfill Iago‘s wishes. Should Bianca be pitied by the reader, though she is just as suspecting and jealous as the rest of the characters?

Our alliance must not be made with Roderigo, who’s love for Desdemona persuades him to fund Iago’s schemes. But, could we pity him for being beguiled by Iago? Again, a very practical reason for pity.

Of course, there is also the lieutenant, Cassio that we must consider.   Iago feigns Cassio   the lover of Desdemona, though he is actually a great and respectful admirer of Desdemona and dear friend to Othello. His murder is eventually attempted by Roderigo, who is influenced by Iago to think that Cassio has committed things worthy of death.

In the end, however, the one we to whom we should truly lend our pity is Iago; The villain who shamelessly manipulated all on behalf of his insurmountable jealousy and resolve and was left alive, while the people he ruined died one by one. We can only hope that his future will be far more pitiful than the acts he committed.

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