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The Willow Song

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Weeping Willow

As Desdemona is preparing for bed the night she will be murdered, she starts singing a song about willow trees. (We'd be nodding off to Antiques Roadshow and eating ice cream, but that's just us.)

This song, supposedly sung originally by one of Desdemona's mother's servants who loved a crazy guy, reflects Desdemona's own situation. She herself is worried that the man she married has gone crazy and will desert her. Willows at the edge of water are a traditional symbol of women deserted by their lovers: in another Shakespearean example, Ophelia, deserted by her love, Hamlet, dies after she falls out of a willow tree and drowns in a brook in the play Hamlet.

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