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

My Great Father

I am caught between two sides:

You have taught me so much in my life

And I respect you for that, you are great

I will always be your daughter, but I have a husband now.

I see how my mother has treated you and shown me

She always picked you before her father

So my choice is made

I am giving him my heart.

 

Desdemona is talking to Brabantio, her father, and telling him about who she obeys now and who she belongs to. Her father is asking her where her loyalties lie, and she responds by telling him that respects and loves both Othello and Brabantio. In the end, she lets him know that as a wife, she is bound to the Moor. With Shakespeare’s close comparison within lines having Desdemona compare both Othello and her father make it easy to draw conclusions about her decision.

 

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.

 

Paraphrase

Wait, before you go listen to me

I have done much for this place, as all know

That is not what I want you guys to speak about

When I die

Speak of me as I truly am, nothing else

Do not speak down to me, speak

Of one that truly loved, but at times faltered

One not easily jealous, but confused

And extremely surprised.

 

In these lines, Othello is speaking his final words, and speaking after he has killed Desdemona. After he has killed her, he finds out the truth and knows he must die. In Shakespeare’s words, we see that Othello was such a strong lover, so overbearing, but in the interest of real love. He became jealous out of love, a fool who was tricked, and faltered on the account of others, Iago specifically.

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

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