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.

 

Line by line:

Hey dad (respectfully)

It seems like I am divided between you and Othello

I owe you and thank you for my education and life

These gifts you gave me taught me…

How I should respect you, and I do respect you indeed

I am your daughter, but here’s my hubby

And I should treat him the same way mom treated you

She did the same with her dad

It’s a tough decision

But I choose Othello

 

This passage occurs at the beginning of the play, when Desdemona’s dad finds out that her and Othello are together. He is upset and becomes angry with Othello. Desdemona talks to him to cool him down, and assure him that she is indeed in love with Othello. She argues,”And so much duty as my mother show’d To you, preferring you before her father,” in order to show her father that her situation is not unlike his past (1.3.14-15). Desdemona acknowledges all her father has given her, and shows that she still deeply respects him. However, she says that she now has duties as a wife and not just a daughter, and he must respect that.

 

Othello

5.2.397-406

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.

 

Line by line:

Shhhhh, let me say something before you go

I have served this nation well, and that should be acknowledged

Enough of that. In the things you write

When you talk about what just happened

Accurately tell what happened, don’t sugarcoat it

Also don’t over exaggerate it, you have to speak

That I was somebody who loved too much, and I wasn’t very smart about it

Somebody who isn’t jealous easily, but somebody who was tricked

And confused extremely

 

Othello speaks this before he dies, after killing Desdemona. Othello has realized his confusion and mistakes, and understands how Iago had fooled him. He is trying to show that he isn’t as guilty as those who saw what happened might think. He is honest with them and says that they should relay what really happened, including his crimes. However, the story shouldn’t be embellished beyond the truth. He admits to his faults, but also acknowledges that it was somebody else who fooled him.

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