Act 3 scene 3 in Othello is where things really start to get exciting as Iago begins to plant the seeds of jealousy in Othello. During this scene Iago and Othello have a lot of dialogue where Iago brings about his thoughts of Cassio and Desdemona in such a way that Othello truly believes him. One very important point in this scene is when Iago says:

 

I will in Cassio’s lodging lose this napkin,

And let him find it. Trifles light as air

Are to the jealous confirmations strong

As proofs of holy writ: this may do something.

The Moor already changes with my poison:

Dangerous conceits are, in their natures, poisons.

Which at the first are scarce found to distaste,

But with a little act upon the blood.

Burn like the mines of Sulphur. I did say so:

Look, where he comes! (Shakespeare,Othello,3.3.368-378)

 

This quote comes right after Emilia leaves after handing Iago Desdemona’s handkerchief which he has been seeking for some time. Iago basically says that he plans to leave this handkerchief in Cassio’s house to further prove to Othello that there is an affair going on. Iago says that something meaningless like this will be very valid to Othello because his mind has been poisoned by his words. The handkerchief will become Othello’s source of proof. This quote by Iago sums up how sly and deceitful he really is through his manipulation of thoughts which at first are not bad but soon “burn like the mines of sulphur”. This quotation uses a lot of descriptive and negatively connotated words such as poison, jealous, distaste, dangerous, blood, and sulphur which really go to show how terrible Iago is.

 

One major point of foreshadowing in Othello comes in Act 4 scene 3 when Desdemona tells Emilia of her mother’s maid who died singing a song called “Willow”. At this point in the book Othello has showed his mistrust and accusations to Desdemona but she has no clue why he is so hateful. Emilia and Desdemona are in her room discussing their issues with Othello while getting ready for bed. Desdemona then foreshadows her own death in saying:

 

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: that song to-night

Will not go from my mind; I have much to do,

But to go hang my head all at one side,

And sing it like poor Barbara. Prithee, dispatch. (Shakespeare,Othello,4.3.27-35)

 

Desdemona is reminded of this story because it compares to her current situation. Barbara’s lover left her and she ended up dying while singing this song. As an act of foreshadowing and irony Desdemona can’t get this song out of her head and begins to sing it which implies her imminent death. Also, the Willow, which is the name of the song, is a symbol for disappointed love which Shakespeare has used before most notably in Hamlet when Ophelia drowned falling from a willow tree.

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CC BY-SA 4.0 Othello Analysis by Charlie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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