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| The Royal Questic

| Agricola Omnipotens, | Literary Criticism : | The University Club. Book Reviews |




Vou. I.

H, H. MORGAN, EpiTor.


| Sha kespeare’s Tragedies—Othello,

3y D. J. Snicer

By Lewis J. Blots .cccsiss: cciseccveses By Dan. E. Pierson Its Past, Present and Future. By James S. Garland

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No. 8.



Literature, Education and Art.


Prospectus of “The Western.”

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Contents of a Number.

Art-Criticism, = - H. H. Morgan. Cupid and Psyche, a Poe ‘mM, - F. BE. Cook. The Carnival, - - - W. T. Harris. The Relation ot Phy sical Science to u uman Life, B. V. B. Dixon. Shakespeare’s Tragedies; Romeo and Juliet, - D. J. Snider. Editorial Department.

Contents of February Number.

Sbakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, - D. J. Snider. Tantalus—a poem, - - Lewis J. Block, The Theatre in Blackfriars, ° - Grace C. Bibb. On the Relation of the Will to the Intellec t,&c - Wm. 'T. Harris. Ancient and Modern Ethics, - - - - Z. G. Wilson. Editorial Department.

Contents *. March Number,

Shakespeare’s King ink - - - D. J. Snider. Stella—a poem, - - - - F. E. Cook. J.J. Rousssau, - - - - S. E. Cole. Dante; - - - - . - L. F. Soldan. Editoria) Department.

Contents of April Number.

The Necessity for the Specialiat. and the nature of his Comple-

mentary Education, - - - H. H. Morgan. The Quest-—a poem, - - - - - Lewis J. Block. Thoughts on the Music of Beethoven, : - Wm. T. Harris, The Sy meas Monument at Springfield, - Thomas Davidson. Shakespeare’s Srageee “Bing J sear, - D. J. Snider. Dante, - - - - - L. F. Soldan. Editorial Department.

Contents of May Number.

Shakespeare’s Tragedies—King Lear, - - D. J. Snider. Why the Sea es poem, - Simon Tucker Clark. Sonnet, - - - Lewis J. Block. Lady Macbeth—a study i in character, - += Grace C. Bibb. Thought on Pessimism and Educational Reforms, W. T. Harris. Paris in America, - - - : - - - §. E. Cole, Bditorial Department.

Contents of June Number.

Shakespeare’s Tragedies—Timon of Athens. - D. J. Snider. Song of the Spirits over the Waters, - - J.C. Pickard. The Two Hawthornes, - - - Elizabeth P. Peabody. The Human Ear, its Anatomy and Function, Chas. A. Todd, M. On Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony, - - Wnm.T. Harris. Editorial Department.

Contents of July Number.

Culture and Religion, . - - Wm. M. Bryant. Sonnet, - - - - - Lewis J. Block. The Unknown Dead, - - - Levi Bishop. Shakespeare’s Tragedies—Othello, . . D. J. Snider. The Fair God—A Critique, - - F. E. Cook.

Our World ; or, Fist Lessons in Geography, J. E. Kimball. Editorial Department.

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AUGUST, 18785.


OTHELLO. Concluded from the July number.) The second division of the tragedy exhibits the inter- nal conflict in the Family, a conflict which brings to ruin all who participate in its guilt. The scene is now

transferred from Venice to Cyprus, where Othello has

supremeauthority, The struggle therefore will not be

by any external power, but will be allowed to

disturbed unfold itself in its natural and complete development. The couple too are here removed from the social preju- dice and dislike which would assail them at home. By this transition therefore they become the head of the society around them, free scope is given to make the most of their union. Relieved of every possibility of immediate external interference, Othello and Des- demona must now fall back upon their internal bond of marriage.

But a disruption will take place, of which the grand instrument is Iago, who now becomes the central figure of the action. The motive for his conduct has already been stated to lie in the deep injury which he believes

that he has suffered from the Moor. His method is to 28

474 The Western.

excite in Othello the most intense jealousy, to produce which he employs various means, that wil! be consider- ed in their proper place. Now it is a leading peculiar- ity of Othello that his character is fundamentally free from jealousy, he is of a noble, open, magnanimous disposition. The problem then is to explain how an unsuspicious person becomes filled with the most dead- ly suspicion. The character of the Moor is a contra- diction, and hence an impossibility without some ade- quate ground for the great change which it undergoes If he were naturally jealous, there would be needed no motive for his conduct; but the difficult point lies in the fact that he is naturally without jealousy. His characterization as well as that of lago, has been pro- nounced unnatural, and so it is, unless some adequate impelling principle can be given, to account for this to- tal inversion of his nature. We shall attempt to ex- plain the cause of his change and to portray his grad- ual transition from the first surmise to the final deed of blood.

The several parties have arrived in the island, Othel- lo still remains behind. While they are waiting for his ship, a conversation arises which exhibits a new phase of Iago’s character: his disbelief in the honor of woman. It must be regarded as the result of his own experience, married life has for him breught forth only its bitterest fruits. He treats his wife with the greatest asperity and contempt which she with slight protest for the present endures. But at the whole sex he aims his sarcasms, his doctrine is that woman is naturally lustful and faithless, and moreover fitted only for the lowest functions. That the husband’s opinion of Emi-

lia is true, is very plainly indicated in the last scene of

Shakespeare's Tragedies. 475 the Fourth Act, where she openly admits that chastity is not the principle of her life. Orthello is also well ac- quainted with her character, he knows of her falsehood and infidelity, he will not believe any of her statements and loads her with the most approbrious epithets.

We are now brought face to face with a question which is by no means pleasant to consider, but which has to be discussed if we wish to comprehend the Poet’s

work. Must we regard the Moor as guilty of what

he play which shows that Othello was innocent of the charge, but

5 ¢ L

Iago suspects him? There is nothing in

there is much which shows that he was not innocent. The very fact, that this suspicion is cast upon him al- most at the beginning and is nowhere removed, seems sufficient to raise the presumption of guilt. It hangs over him like a cloud which will not pass away. Then Emilia’s character, instead of precluding, strengthens the supposition of criminal intercourse, and the notion is still further upheld by the knowledge of her habits which Othello betrays. But the veil is never wholly re- moved. Why does not the Poet openly state the of- fence so as to leave no doubt? It is evident that he does not wish to soil the union with Desdemona by dwelling on Othello’s incontinence, nor does he desire to throw into the background the difference of race, as the leading motive of the play. Still he would not have us forget the dark surmise, there it is suspended over the Moor to the last. Iago to be sure is a liar, but his lies are meant for others and not for himself. More- over lago is not more certain at first than we his read- ers and hearers are; but the complete success of his plan which is based on the Moor’s guilt, confirms both for him and for us the truth of the suspicion.

476 The Western.

So much is indicated in the course of the play; but if the deeper motives of the various characters, are care- fully examined, this conclusion would seem to become irresistible. Iago is manifestly assailed with the same burning jealousy which afterwards wrought such terrific effects in Othello. Now what will be the manner of his revenge? The most logical and adequate would be “‘wife for wife,” hence his first thought is to debauch Desdemona. But nothing more is heard of this plan, for it could not possibly be successful. Then comes his most shrewd and peculiar method of avenging his wrong. If he cannot dishonor Othello in reality, he can do it in appearance with almost the same results. His purpose is to make Othello believe that Desdemo- na is untrue. This will be a revenge sufficient for his end, it will destroy Othello’s happiness and peace of mind just as well as the truth, it will bring upon the latter that which he has brought upon lago.

Another phase of the question now comes up for so- lution. How was it possible to excite such a passion in a character like thatof Othello? Thefree, open, un- suspecting nature of the Moor is noted by Iago him- self,° his noble and heroic disposition would appear least likely to be subject to jealousy. Yet, this is the very form of revenge chosen by Iago with surpassing skill, this is therefore just the weak side of Othello’s character. Why? The solution of the problem lies in the fact above mentioned, that Iago’s suspicion is true. Othello has been guilty of adultery, he is therefore

aware that the infidelity of wives is a fact. Here lies the germ of his belief in the faithlessness of Desdemo- na, his own act thus comes home to him and renders him accursed, his faith in justice can only make him

Shakespeare's Tragedies. 477

more ready to think that he will be punished through his wife, since that is the mode of his own guilt. Such is the initial point ot the fearful jealousy of the Moor, which lago knows exactly how to reach, since it isa mat- ter lying wholly within his own experience; and he knows also that Othello on account of previous crimi- nality must be as capable of this passion as himself. Both the revenge of [ago and the jealousy of Othello therefore can be adequately motived only by the guilty conductof the Moor towards the Ancient’s wife. More- over there is no other ground for the relation of mar- riage between Iago and Emilia except as a basis for these two main motives of drama. Thus too we see one of the fundamental rules of Shakespeare vindicated, that man cannot escape his own deed; hence Othello is the author of his own fate, since by his guilt he has called up the avenger who will destroy him and his family ; while without the view above developed he must appear as an innocent sufferer deceived by a malicious villain. Two other things of great importance have their expla- nation in the same view; namely, the manner of Iago’s revenge and his knowledge of the assailable point in Othello’s character. Here we find the solution of the Moor’s contradictory nature; he is in general unsus- pecting, but on account of his guilt he is capable of one suspicion, namely, that wives may be faithless. The Poet has thus added to the distinction of race, for which the Moor could not be blamed, a second motive, the criminal deed of which he must take the responsibility. The military life of Othello will furnish the third prin- ciple, that of honor, which will impel him to destroy the wife whom he thinks to have violated it in its deep- est and most tender part.

. 478 The Western.

The plan of [ago and the grounds upon which it re- poses have now been unfolded; the next task before us is to scan with care the instruments which he em- ploys to effect his purpose. The first one is Roderigo, who stands in a wholly external relation to the main ac- tion, and is always introduced from the outside for some violent purpose. He is twice turned against Cassio and is continually directed by the hand of Iago. His un- holy pursuit has also brought him to Cyprus, where he is still fed with hope and relieved of his money by the artful Ancient. But he becomes very impatient, he is always angry at his first appearance in the scene, yet a few words from [ago fill him again with great expecta- tions. It is curious what a predominating influence Iago’s superior intelligence has over him. When alone he knows that he ts robbed and deceived; he even re- solves to go home after giving lago a good tongue- lashing. But he always yields even against his own judgment, he cannot resist the plausibility and flattery of the Ancient, and he twice exposes, and finally loses his life in his foolish and unrighteous enterprise.

The second and by all means the most important instrument in the hands of Iago is the Lieutenant Cas- sio. This man is in every way adapted for exciting Othello’s jealousy. He is on intimate terms with Des- demona, he is fair in external appearance, gifted with the graces of deportment, and his youthful face stands in marked contrast to the older look of Othello. Mod- ern parlance would call him a ladies’ man. But the de- cisive fact in his portraiture is that he is an open, noto- rious libertine, lago himself has reason to suspect him too of undue intimacy with Emilia. This suspicion in

itself by no means so improbable on account of her

Shakespeare's Tragedies. 479

character, is however not confirmed in other parts of the play. But to remove all doubt concerning Cassio’s moral weaknesses, the Poet has introduced a special person, the courtesan Bianca. There is no other ground why such an offensive relation should be drag- ged into the drama. Cassio has been long Acquainted with Othello who also must have known his private habits. Cassio is therefore in every way a fit subject for suspicion, on account of his character, his external appearance and his relation to Desdemona.

Already Iago has obsetved a familiarity a little indis- creet yet entirely innocent, between the Lieutenant and Desdemona. But Iago can do nothing unless he can bring about a total separation between Cassio and Othello, so that they will not communicate together. This then he proceeds to accomplish, thus destroying all opportunities for explanation, and giving occasion for the intercession of Desdemona. The dark plan of Iago is wonderfully carried out, he holds and directs Cassio with one hand and Othello with the other, yet neither Knows what is controlling him. The drunken brawl causes the Lieutenant to be dismissed, Roderigo here is made the external means. Dissimulation could not be more complete. Iago has three disguises, he makes three men believe that he is working in their in- terest, yet is at the same time ruining them all. He hopes also to get Cassio’s place, though the main mo- tive is to wreak revenge upon Othello, of which Cassio is a convenient instrument. Ambition is not his deep- est impelling power, but revenge.

At this point we behold the grand culmination of lago’s characterization: it is his confession that he is a villain. The form of the soliloquy again appears, in

480 The Western.

which he always expresses his deepest convictions. He knows that he is involving the innocent and the guilty in one common destruction, he acknowledges that he is a devil clothed in his blackest sins; that is, Iago is en- tirely conscious of the nature of his deed, and does not try to conceal it from himself. He at first indulges in an ironical defence of the advice which he gives to Cas- sio for recovering the Moor’s favor; in appearance it is the best possible counsel, but it is counteracted and turned into the most deadly poison by his own dark in- sinuations to Othello. Such a defence however is the divinity of Hell from whose sophisms his mind at least is free. itis thus his great boast that his intelligence is not caught in the meshes of deceptive casuistry ; still he will have his revenge. Lago is the self-conscious vil- lain. He knows that he is overthrowing the moral world, as far as his conduct goes; still it must perish since it stands in his way. There is no excusing of himself, no palliation of the deed:

When devils will their blackest sins put on,

They do suggest at first with heavenly shows,

As I do now. . How complete the consciousness and how audacious the statement of his own character! It has been said that Iago deceives himself with his display of motives, that he persuaded himself to believe a falsehood in his accusation of Othello. This soliloquy ought to banish forever such an opinion. No man ever knew his own mind better than Iago; here it is seen that he clearly comprehends and acknowledges the nature of his deed. He is aware that every man is a villain who does what he is doing; however deserved may be his revenge

upon Othello, he can have no justification for ruining

Shakespeare's Tragedies. 481

Cassio and Desdemona, and resorting to the means which he now employs.

The third instrument of Iago is Emilia, his wife, who is the devoted attendant of Desdemona and is employed by the latter in her communication with the cashiered Lieutenant. Iago thus has a means of ob- taining information concerning their plans. Desdemo- na is now set to interceding for Cassio; she is urged on by both Emilia and Cassio, who are in their turn directed by lago. This part of the plan easily suc- ceeds.

But lago himself, must manage the far more diffi- cult case of Othello. ‘This brings us now to the main development of the drama, and perhaps the most com- plete psychological portraiture in Shakespeare. lago be- gins the manipulation of Othello’s mind through a ser-

ies of influences adapted exactly to the shitting phases

} of the latters disposition, and increasing in intensity to

the end. Given a noble unsuspecting character, the design is to portray those causes which not only turn it into the opposite, but make it destroy its most beloved object. The primal basis to work upon lies in Othel- lo’s own consciousness of guilt. The first point is to faintly touch his suspicion, which is accomplished most easily, for he readily imagines what he himself has done to others may happen in his own case. We see how the slightest hint from [ago cast a shadow over his whole being.

Jago. Ha, I like not that.

Oth. What dost thou say ?

Jago. Nothing my lord, or if—I know not what.

Oth. Was not that Cassio parted from my wife ? etc.

A word from Desdemona is sufficient however to

482 The Western,

lay his mistrust, but another word from l[ago is suffi- cient to arouse it anew in all its intensity. Can any

one doubt thar this hastv suspicion on the part of an un- suspecting character can have any other ground than the consciousness of the same kind of guilt ? lago’s artifices are unquestionably skillful, but he found a most fruitful and well prepared soil, and besides his very skillfulness rests upon his comprehending and utilizing so thor- oughly the psychological effects of Othello’s crime. It is impossible to think that an honest and innocent man could have been so easily led astray.

Othello’s suspicion is now fully aroused, but with it the difficulty of lago’s task is proportionately greater. How will the latter prevent that suspicion from becom- ing universal, from being directed against himself as well as against Cassio and Desdemona? His first plan there- fore, must be to confirm his own honesty in the mind of Othello with the same care and skill that he infuses distrust against the other two. He has to fill the Moor with suspicion, and at the same time to avoid the sus- picion of doing that very thing.

It is this double and apparently contradictory ability that gives such a lofty idea of L[ago’s intellectual power. But how does he proceed to accomplish his purpose ? At first by the apparent unwillingness with which he tells his dark surmises, and by the pretended dislike with which he assails the reputation of people. In these cases he seems to manifest the most tender regard for the rights and character of others, indeed he re- peatedly confesses his own tendency to suspect wrong- fully. Such a man appears absolutely just, more just indeed to others than to himself. But all these things might be the tricks of a false, disloyal knave, as Othel-

Shakespeare's Tragedies.

lo well knows and says. Now comes [ago’s master- stroke, by which he completely spans the Moor's mind, and turns it in whatever direction he pleases. ‘‘Othel- lo beware of jealousy,” and then he proceeds to give a description of its baleful nature. What now is the at- titude of the Moor? This is the very passion with which he knows himself to be effected. Never morecan he harbor a doubt of lago’s honesty, for has not the latter warned him of his danger? Iago thus tears out and brings to the Moor’s own look his deepest con- sciousness, his greatest peril. He knows the truth of the warning. lago now can proceed with more certain- ty and directness, he can not be suspected of exciting jealousy, for this is the very thing against which he has given so potent a warning. Thus Othello is thrown on his own defence, is compelled to dissimulate his true

feelings, declares that he is not jealous, when he really

is. He is forced into the necessity of disguise, ex- changes positions with Iago. Yet the latrer well knows, indeed says, that jealousy cannot be eradicated when once excited, but ever creates itself anew, feeds on its own meat. Such is the two-fold purpose of Iago as manifested in this dialogue: to inspire Orhello with suspicion and yet shun suspicion himself. Orhello is caught, the reason is manifest. A universally suspi- cious nature would not have been thus entrapped, it must have suspected the purpose of Iago also, with all his adroitness.

Othello is however naturally unsuspecting, but guilt has furnished the most fruitful soil for one kind of sus- picion, that soil Iago cultivates. Hence the Moor is afraid of only one thing, the infidelity of his wife, the

tricks of Iago lie outside of the horizon of his suspic-

484 The Western

ion. On the other hand, a completely innocent nature could not have been thus entrapped, the psychological basis would be wholly wanting. Here is seen the reason for the marked outlines of Othello’s character; he is not naturally suspicious, otherwise he must have sus- pected the purpose of Iago; nor is he guiltless, for if he were, his jealousy could not have been reached by any such artifice.

Nothing can be more impressive and instructive than the contemplation of this mental development. It is most clearly shown how that man’s deed becomes for- ever a part of his being, how that he can never free him- self from its effects upon his own disposition. The deed does not fly away into the past and lose itself in vacuity after it is done, but it sinks into the deepest consciousness of the doer, and gives coloring to his fu- ture conduct. The negative wicked act must cast its dark shadow upon the soul, and thus change the char- acter of the individual, whereby he is prepared for pun- ishment. Inthecase of Othello we shudder at the man- ner in which guilt finds the most subtle avenues for re- turning upon the doer. The deed may be secret to the gaze of the world, but it sinks deep into the mind; this is altered, and retribution will follow. Such a por- traiture is worth, to a rational being, all the insipid moralizing of ages.

Iago can now be more bold, Othello cannot suspect him. Hitherto he has directed his hints and surmises against Cassio. But now he begins to assail Desdemo- na with the most artful inuendos. She is from Venice where it is the custom to be untrue; she deceived her father, you know she pretended in his presence to

tremble at your. looks, when she loved you most, a

Shakespeare's Tragedies. 485

statement which has increased force from the parting admonition of her father. As preparatory to the final -and culminating charge, Iago renews his warning against jealousy. But this third point the Moor anticipates, so well prepared has he been, and showing that it was always in his mind. It is the distinction of race. Hard- ly is it hinted by him, when Iago catches up the unfin- ished thought and dwells upon it with terrific emphasis. How unnatural, horrible, the union between man and woman of different complexion and clime! and hence how much more ready will she be to break it, after be- coming disgusted! We see with what effect this re- proach takes hold of Othello in his succeeding solilo- quy. It recalls all the bitterness of many years, the taunts of Brabantio, finally the collision resting upon this very basis, which he has just passed through. Des- demona broke over all social distinction of nation and race, here is the retribution, wanton jealousy. The

rreater her sacrifice, the more unnatural does it seem

and the more suspected she becomes. Moreover we catch a glimpse of that to which this jealousy will lead: destruction for himself and for the loved one rather

than beso dishonored. The passion jealousy rests upon

the monog:

nic nature of marriage; when that relation } !

t i

3 . >

is disturbed, jealousy will and ought to arise in all its intensity. Another element is added in the case of Othello, springing from his military career: honor. He can not endure shamé and reproach, he who has never had any taint cast upon his courage or reputation.

The passion has overwhelmed him, he can not do or think of anything else, his occupation is gone. So Iago knows, not all the drowsy medicines of the world will restore to him peace of mind. Iago indeed has

486 The Western.

obtained his knowledge from experience, in fact, his own present activity has the same root. For a moment Othello reacts, suspects, notices that no positive proofs have been produced, only surmises He turns upon Iago and grasps him by the throat, yet how can he con- tinue his suspicion, how can he blame Iago? Did not the latter warn him of these very consequences? One word from his Ancient therefore makes him release his hold. Othello must believe that Iago has been honest with him, once more Iago speaks of his passion, a thought that cuts the Moor through and through, whose truth he can not deny.

Othello will have more direct proofs than surmise, Iago isready with them. He then narrates the dream of Cassio, which Orhello of course has no means of veri-

fying. But the charge is direct, plain, and based upon

an occurrence. Next comes the apparently complete demonstration: the handkerchief. Here is a fact which Othello does verify sufficiently to discover that Desdemona has it not in her possession. Still whether Cassio has received it or not, he can not verify as long as they are asunder. Finally the trick wherein Othello overhears the conversation about Bianca and thinks it is about Desdemona seems to him to be an acknowl- edgement of guilt from the mouth of Cassio himself. It ought to be added, that before this Iago has made the direct charge, that Cassio has revealed to him Des- demona's infidelity. OtheNo is so overcome that he falls into a swoon, and then afterward through the words of the Lieutenant he seems to get a complete confirma- tion of lago’s statement. Othello is now resolved, his mad suspicion has been wrought up to the point where no explanations can mitigate its ferocity. He investi-

Shakespeare's Tragedies. 487

gates, but his resolution is already taken; no declara- tions of Emilia, whose character he can not trust, and no denials of Desdemona, who is the person suspected,

can shake his belief. The passion has taken too deep

a hold, he will not and can not withdraw himself from its grasp. The plan of lago has reached its climax; he began with faint surmise, he proceeded to direct asser- tion, and lastly he has given what seems to be a demon- stration to the senses.

Two persons, Emilia and Cassio have now revealed themselves fully, and we are enabled to ascertain their function in the play. In regard to Emilia she makes no pretence to virtue as her principle in life, indeed she quite acknowledges her own infidelity. We have al- ready seen with what contempt she was treated by her husband; in her character and declarations is found a complete justification of his suspicion, though she nat- urally denies to him the truth of the charge. Before she was submissive, but now she requites his disrespect in full measure; she also intimates that he is untrue to the marriage relation. This ill-starred couple therefore have already passed through the experience of Othello and Desdemona, and both show that they are well ac- quainted with all the manifestations of jealousy.

But her most peculiar trait is her insight into the whole spiritual network of Iago’s plans; she thus is an explanation of her husband to a certain extent. In the first place, she at once comprehends the exact nature of Othello’s passion; she declares that her inference is from the similar behavior of Iago. Secondly, she sees that some person has excited the Moor’s jealousy, it could not have arisen of itselfin his bosom. Thirdly, she is certain that Iago is this person, though she does

488 The Western.

not say so openly, and she gives him several secret thrusts. The motives which impelled Iago and the grounds upon which he based his_ success appear to be distinctly apprehended by this strange, shrewd woman, whose redeeming traits are her devotion to Desdemona and her courageous defence of innocence.

Cassio has always fared well, receiving the greatest praise from even ministerial critics, notwithstanding his scandalous relation to Bianca. It is hard to tell why he has been so lauded, unless the reason be found in the temperance speech which he makes after being cash- iered for getting drunk. Soberness is apt to bring such repentance, along with resolutions to reform. He also laments the loss of reputation, by which he clearly does not mean reputation for morality and decency, but the empty bauble of military glory. It is true that he is a favorite of the simple-hearted Desdemona, but on ac- count of his character he is employed as the instrument of her destruction.

The third part of the play, the Retribution, follows. The tragic preparation of the previous portions is car- ried to the consummation. First Roderigo is led to assail Cassio, but is slain by Iago. It is his just de- sert, for he has willed and tried to execute both adul- tery and murder. Desdemona is killed by the Moor,

jealousy has done its worst, has slain its most beloved

object. The ground for her fate has been already stated ; she violated the conditions of the Family in marrying a husband of a different race. Othello him- self feels that she has