The Willow Song foreshadows the tragedy’s conclusion. This ballad tells of a woman who is steadfast in her devotion to her partner, no matter how vicious he becomes. Desdemona sings this song just before Othello cuts out her throat. As a result, Shakespeare shows Desdemona’s tragic fate by having her sing this song to the audience.
The plays of William Shakespeare are well-known for their symbolism and detailed insights. This literary means aid in the comprehension of a character or a scenario.
The tragic play Othello isn’t the only play to use emphatic techniques. Foreshadowing may be found throughout the play. Its aim is to alert readers about what may happen next by using symbols and indications. The Willow Song of Desdemona, one of the most significant foreshadowing symbols, has a fascinating backstory according to Desdemona. “Desdemona tells us that,” as she puts it.
“My mother had a maid call’d Barbara:
She was in love, and he she loved proved mad
And did forsake her: she had a song of ‘willow;’
An old thing ’twas, but it express’d her fortune,
And she died singing it”.
(Act 4, scene 3)
The Willow Song aids the author in preparing the audience for a crucial and tragic scene. Before the song appears in the tragedy, Othello’s concerns about Desdemona become clear. Because of Iago’s scheme to set Othello jealous, the Moor incorrectly thinks that Desdemona has betrayed him. Shakespeare uses foretelling to show how Desdemona would be murdered in Act IV, scene 3 when Desdemona prepares for bed, worried about Othello’s feelings. The lyrics of the song reflect Desdemona’s inner doubts and worries:
“I call’d my love false love; but what
said he then?
Sing willow, willow, willow:
If I court moe women, you’ll couch with moe men!
So, get thee gone; good night Ate eyes do itch;
Doth that bode weeping?”
(Act 4, scene 3)
The Willow Song is a folk ballad about a man who was betrayed by his lover. Shakespeare transforms the victim from male to female in order to make it more relevant to Desdemona’s love for Othello. Desdemona wails about Othello’s cruelty and his doubts regarding her fidelity, much as the song’s character. She, on the other hand, retains her devotion and affection for Othello.
The song also aids in revealing Desdemona’s genuine, honest nature. The willow tree’s symbolic significance is essential for the character’s portrait. Willow is a symbol of sorrow left by her lover, and it is the reflection of Desdemona. It serves as a physical manifestation of Othello’s love for his wife. It is connected to tears and grief because it grows near water.
The reasons for a woman’s love and a man’s cruelty are similar to those found in other Shakespeare works. Ophelia dies after falling from a willow tree while Hamlet is absent, as she does in Hamlet. The willow appears to symbolize a woman’s inner torment and unhappy love.
Furthermore, readers may detect the same aim of a woman’s purity in Othello. When Emilia is killed by her husband, the song is heard once more in the audience. Emilia sells out Iago by convincing Othello that Desdemona is faithful. As a result, she dies singing the Willow Song herself.
To grasp the full play, you must look at the Willow Song in depth. The song suggests that the obscure emblems in the narrative imply a sad conclusion. Willow reflects Desdemona’s chastity as a sign of mourning and unrequited love. As such, beyond predicting tragedy, the song aids readers in comprehending Desdemona better.
The Willow Song, in addition to forewarning the audience of the tragedy ahead, allows both Desdemona and Emilia to freely express their sorrow. It emphasizes the youthfulness and malevolence of Desdemona’s and Emilia’s spouses.