Emilia

4.2.159-169

A halter pardon him! and hell gnaw his bones!

Why should he call her whore? who keeps her company?

What place? what time? what form? what likelihood?

The Moor’s abused by some most villainous knave,

Some base notorious knave, some scurvy fellow.

O heaven, that such companions thou’ldst unfold,

And put in every honest hand a whip

To lash the rascals naked through the world

Even from the east to the west!

Paraphrase:A hangman’s noose will help him. Let hell destroy him up. Who has she been with? When has she had the time or the place to be with anyone else? How is that possible at all? The Moor is being tricked by a terrible villain. I wish we could unmask people like that, and give a whip to every good man to beat them with!

Analysis: In this scene Emilia is discussing how Othello is being tricked into thinking that Desdemona is being unfaithful. She does not believe that Desdemona would ever cheat on Othello with another man, and she is utterly appalled by the sheer idea of it. Emilia uses the rhetorical strategy of logic, or logos, to strengthen and enhance her argument. She draws good points about how Desdemona wouldn’t have the means or the time to sleep with anyone else. She also makes a strong conclusion that Othello is being tricked by logically deducing all other options. This really helps her argument.  

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.

Paraphrase: Father, this isn’t easy for me. I’m torn. I respect because you gave me my life and my education. You’re the one I have to listen to. But this man here is my husband, and I must respect him as much as my mother respected you. She preferred you to her own father. So I have to give my respect to Othello, my husband.

 

Analysis: In this scene, Desdemona is questioned by her father about her marriage to Othello. Desdemona ends up confirming that she did in fact marry Othello. Her father was very angry about this. She tries to convey that this wasn’t an easy choice, and that she still loves and respects him. However, just like her mother chose her husband over her father, Desdemona says that she will also choose Othello over her father. Desdemona uses a few rhetorical strategies in order to hopefully persuade her father. One of the strategies she uses comparisons. By comparing her relationship with Othello to the relationship of her parents she finds common ground and attempts to relate to her father. She draws a very logical conclusion that since her mother favored her husband over her own father, that it was necessary that Desdemona do the same with Othello. This comparison ultimately strengthens her argument, even if it doesn’t completely persuade her father.

 

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

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