The Willow Song
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
As Desdemona is preparing for bed the night she will be murdered, she starts singing a song about willow trees. 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).