In this scene, Othello is being challenged by Desdemona’s father as to how he wooed his daughter. Othello, secure in Desdemona’s love for him, has her speak on her behalf. Desdemona is summoned from her home to speak before them. Here, Desdemona uses metaphor in order to make her point.
My noble father,
I do perceive here a divided duty:
To you I am bound for life and education;
My life and education both do learn me
How to respect you; you are the lord of duty;
I am hitherto your daughter: but here’s my husband,
And so much duty as my mother show’d
To you, preferring you before her father,
So much I challenge that I may profess
Due to the Moor my lord.
I’m divided between you.
You gave me my life and taught me,
And from you I’ve learned so much
And I thank you because as my father this is what you had to do
But I’m married now and this is my husband.
My mother was bound to you once you were married
She loved you over her father
In the same way, I love the Moor over you.
Iago has plotted to make it look as though Cassio has been cheating with Othello’s wife by hiding one of Desdemona’s handkerchief in Cassio’s things. Othello knows about the rumor of Desdemona’s infidelity, but he doesn’t believe it. Iago wants to give him proof to doubt his wife. Iago uses imagery as he imagines the effects his plot will have on Othello. He also uses metaphor when he relates jealousy with the “mines of Sulphur”.
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!
I am going to stash this handkerchief in Cassio’s room
And he will find it. It means nothing,
But it will confirm Othello’s jealousy
Othello will believe this like holy text and it’ll serve as proof
Othello is already becoming jealous and treating Desdemona differently
Jealousy is dangerous and poisonous
At first, these ideas are hard to believe without proof
But with a little false proof,
They become all to real.
Here he comes now!
Tags: closereading Othello
Othello close reading by Cicely is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.