Saturday, April 5, 2014

Shakespeare's OTHELLO: The White Nymphet & Old Black General

Desdemona and Othello
In The Allure of Nymphets I shared the following sonnet from William Shakespeare, which is about a disappointing love affair with a young girl. The sonnet extols the wonders of youth:

Crabbed age and youth cannot live together:
Youth is full of pleasure, age is full of care;
Youth like summer morn, age like winter weather;
Youth like summer brave, age like winter bare.
Youth like full of sport, age’s breath is short;
Youth is nimble, age is lame;
Youth is hot and bold, age is weak and cold;
Youth is wild, and age is tame.

Age, I do abhor thee; youth, I adore thee...

In addition, Shakespeare extols the wonders of youth in Othello via an age-discrepant marriage between Othello, a North African general of the armies of Venice, and Desdemona, the "exquisitely beautiful" young daughter of Brabantio, a Venetian senator. 

Shakespeare doesn't give the exact ages of Othello and Desdemona, but Othello is described by Iago, the villain of the play, as an "...old black ram..." while Desdemona is described as a "... little white lamb...[with] beautiful skin, whiter than snow and smooth as the finest marble."

Othello and Desdemona feared that, due to Othello's race and age, they wouldn't get the blessing of her father; thus, they eloped. Roderigo, a young jealous admirer of Desdemona informed her father, "...but in the wee hours of the morning your daughter left your house...to go into the rough embrace of a lustful Moor." (I wrote in The Allure of Nymphets that young men and older women are understandably the most opposed to ephebophiles and teleiophiles.)

Thus it was assumed that Othello seduced Desdemona. It was unconscionable that she wanted to get married. Desdemona's father even suggested that Othello used magic, trickery and/or drugs to seduce Desdemona. He said, "Are there magic spells that can lead young virgins astray? It's obvious to everyone that you you've tricked her, drugged her, or kidnapped her."

Othello is reminder that looks are not nearly as unimportant to nymphets as they are to ephebophiles. Even Brabantio made that mistake. He asked, "And you want me to believe that despite her young age and proper upbringing she fell in love with a man she'd be afraid to look at?" Iago opined, "To keep things hot, she'll need someone with a handsome face, someone close to her in age, someone who looks and acts like her." But Brabantio and Iago failed to understand that it was Othello's high self-confidence, self-esteem, and power (i.e., self-control) that attracted Desdemona.

After Desdemona convinced her father that it was her idea to marry Othello, he was forced to give their marriage his blessing; however, that didn't prevent Iago and Roderigo from doing everything within their power to end the age-discrepant marriage.

Note: I used the No Fear Shakespeare translation of Othello.


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