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,

I know I have a duty to you;

For the rest of my life,

I respect you dearly,

I am first your daughter but he is also my husband,

And just like mother catered to you over her father,

I must do the same.

 

Othello

2.1.199-209

It gives me wonder great as my content

To see you here before me. O my soul’s joy!

If after every tempest come such calms,

May the winds blow till they have waken’d death!

And let the labouring bark climb hills of seas

Olympus-high and duck again as low

As hell’s from heaven! If it were now to die,

‘Twere now to be most happy; for, I fear,

My soul hath her content so absolute

That not another comfort like to this

Succeeds in unknown fate.

 

Paraphrase:

I am as curious as my happiness

To see you here. Oh how happy!

If after every storm there is this happiness,

Let it storm till I come back from the dead!

Let hard workers travel the seas

Rise as high as heaven and as low as hell,

It is now I am so happy; I am scared,

That nothing else like this feeling exists.

 

In the first passage, Desdemona is speaking with her father about how she must show as much devotion to Othello, who is now her husband as her father would expect from his wife. She is trying her best to relate it to him in a way to please him and make him understand why she is doing what she is doing. She tells him,

“I am hitherto your daughter: but here’s my husband,

And so much duty as my mother show’d

To you,” (Act 1, Scene 3, 213-215).

This quote is a great example of the old english used in Shakespeare’s plays. ‘Hitherto’ means ‘first and up til now’, saying that she has been his daughter but now she is a wife. This is a great example of diction to better get a point across.

 

In the second set of lines, Othello cannot help but express how happy he is to see Desdemona. He presents an excellent example of imagery when telling her how happy the sight of her makes him, saying

“If after every tempest come such calms,

May the winds blow till they have waken’d death!

And let the labouring bark climb hills of seas

Olympus-high and duck again as low

As hell’s from heaven!” (Act 2, Scene 1, 201-205).

He uses images such as wishing storms never stopped if they brought this much calm just as her happiness brings him. And he dares the hardest workers to travel the seas and go as low as hell and as high as heaven if it will keep him this happy always.

 

 

Photo by Boston Public Library

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

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