Desdemona

4.2.175-186

Original: O good Iago,

What shall I do to win my lord again?

Good friend, go to him; for, by this light of heaven,

I know not how I lost him. Here I kneel:

If e’er my will did trespass ‘gainst his love,

Either in discourse of thought or actual deed,

Or that mine eyes, mine ears, or any sense,

Delighted them in any other form;

Or that I do not yet, and ever did.

And ever will–though he do shake me off

To beggarly divorcement–love him dearly,

Comfort forswear me!

 

Paraphrase: Oh God, Iago,

What can I do to win my husband back again?

Good friend, please go to him. I swear

I have no idea why he stopped loving me. Here I’m kneeling

to swear that if I ever did anything to destroy his love for me,

either by thoughts or actions, or if I ever took

pleasure in anyone else,

or  if I never did love him, or don’t love him now.

And I always will—even though he tries to shake me off

and  leave me–I love him dearly

Comfort me in my misery.

 

This scene occurs after Othello has been called back to Venice and gets frustrated with Desdemona in front of Lodovico. Othello talks to Emilia about Desdemona’s behavior, and Emilia stands up for her. Desdemona denies being unfaithful to Othello, and insists to bring Iago in, this is where the quote takes place. Desdemona’s rhetorical stance is using the tone of desperateness to make Iago and the audience see that she is innocent, and loves her husband.

 

Othello

5.2.397-406

Original: Soft you; a word or two before you go.

I have done the state some service, and they know’t.

No more of that. I pray you, in your letters,

When you shall these unlucky deeds relate,

Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate,

Nor set down aught in malice: then must you speak

Of one that loved not wisely but too well;

Of one not easily jealous, but being wrought

Perplex’d in the extreme.

 

Paraphrase: Wait. I have a word or two before you go.

I’ve given the state of Venice a bit of help in the past, and they know it.

But enough about that. In your letters,

When you record these sad events

Please describe me exactly as I am don’t tone things down

or exaggerate them out of hostility. Then you must

Describe me as someone who loved too much, but who wasn’t wise about it;

I was not easily made jealous, but once I was tricked and manipulated,

I worked myself crazy

 

This scene occurs after Othello has smothered Desdemona to death. He then finds out that Cassio is in fact alive, and Emilia runs to Montano and Lodovico to tell them Othello’s crime. Iago, Montano, Lodovico, and Cassio hold Othello prisoner, and Othello argues for his freedom. Othello stabs Iago, and Lodovico tells Othello that he must go back to Venice and be stripped of his power. Othello then goes on to say these lines and stabs himself. Othello’s rhetorical stance is using flashbacks of his reigning times in Venice to show how remarkable he is.

 

CC BY-SA 4.0 Othello- Close Readings by Jenessa is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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