Intrinsic Factors and Extenuating Forces in the Determination of Romantic Relationships in Twelfth Night and Othello 12th Grade

In Shakespeare's Othello, the primary obstacle in Othello and Desdemona's relationship is Othello’s race, and hence, his status as an outsider. This difference becomes a barrier when Brabantio objects to their marriage, however, it plays much more of a role in facilitating Iago’s manipulation and amplifying Othello’s paranoia. Othello’s paranoia changes his perception of his relationship with Desdemona and, by extension, his actions towards consolidating it. On the other hand, Antonio and Sebastian in Twelfth Night do not have to bear the burden of any social stigma by virtue of the fact that they are isolated from society. Though it could be argued that societal pressure, or lack thereof, is what lets Antonio and Sebastian’s relationship thrive and forces Othello and Desdemona’s to fail, the inner workings of the relationships and the forces holding the couples together are more powerful than external factors. The imagery that Shakespeare uses in the dialogue between Antonio and Sebastian suggests that they have had some sort of physical or sexual relationship, whereas each time Othello and Desdemona try to consummate their marriage, there is some form of comedic interruption. Sexual tension functions as a microcosmic...

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