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Bradley, A. C. Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth.
2nd ed. London: Macmillan, 1905.
PAGE 206

would have broken Iago's plot to pieces. In the same way, at the final crisis, no instinctive terror of death would have compelled Cordelia suddenly to relinquish her demand for justice and to plead for life. But these moments are fatal to Desdemona, who acts precisely as if she were guilty; and they are fatal because they ask for something which, it seems to us, could hardly be united with the peculiar beauty of her nature.

     This beauty is all her own. Something as beautiful may be found in Cordelia, but not the same beauty. Desdemona, confronted with Lear's foolish but pathetic demand for a profession of love, could have done, I think, what Cordelia could not do -- could have refused to compete with her sisters, and yet have made her father feel that she loved him well. And I doubt if Cordelia, 'falsely murdered,' would have been capable of those last words of Desdemona -- her answer to Emilia's 'O, who hath done this deed?'

           Nobody: I myself Farewell.
Commend me to my kind lord. O, farewell!

Were we intended to remember, as we hear this last 'falsehood,' that other falsehood, 'It is not lost,' and to feel that, alike in the momentary child's fear and the deathless woman's love, Desdemona is herself and herself alone?1

   1When Desdemona spoke her last words, perhaps that line of the ballad which she sang an hour before her death was still busy in her brain,

Let nobody blame him: his scorn I approve.

Nature plays such strange tricks, and Shakespeare almost alone among poets seems to create in somewhat the same manner as Nature. In the same way, as Malone pointed out, Othello's exclamation, 'Goats and monkeys!' (IV. i. 274) is an unconscious reminiscence of Iago's words at III. iii. 403.

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