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.

Desdemona

1.3.208-218

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.

 

Dad,

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”.

Iago

3.3.368-378

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!

 

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CC BY-SA 4.0 Othello close reading by Cicely is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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1 Comment
  1. Sophia 6 months ago

    Cicely,
    I really liked reading your post, because I had the same passages and I think it was good to read them both from another point of view. I think this goes to show how many different ways in which Shakespeare can be interpreted. The thing that I found was best for me to read from yours was which literary devices you selected from the passages and what you defined them as. Thanks so much for posting this and for sharing.
    Sophie G Gross

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