PASSAGE 1

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:

 

Dear Dad,

I’m not sure what to do here

You raised me and educated me,

And for that I am very grateful

And I will always respect you, since

I am your daughter, but Othello is my husband

And just as my mom showed loyalty

To you over her father,

I must also say that I am bound

To Othello

 

In this passage, Desdemona is explaining to her dad why he no longer has the ability to tell her what to do. Her father is upset that Othello is marrying his daughter, and is trying to stop them. But Desdemona explains to him that she is loyal to Othello and that she is going to marry him, even if it upsets her father. Her speech is really important, because originally, Brabantio is trying to get the Duke to punish Othello for taking his daughter away from him, but Othello convinces the Duke to allow Desdemona to speak on his behalf. This is a pivotal part in the play because this is just one of the many instances where Othello has upset someone and things don’t exactly end up well for him.

 

PASSAGE 2

 

Iago

3.3.368-378

I will in Cassio’s lodging lose this napkin,

And let him find it. Trifles light as air

Are to the jealous confirmations strong

As proofs of holy writ: this may do something.

The Moor already changes with my poison:

Dangerous conceits are, in their natures, poisons.

Which at the first are scarce found to distaste,

But with a little act upon the blood.

Burn like the mines of Sulphur. I did say so:

Look, where he comes!

 

Paraphrase:

I will leave this handkerchief in Cassio’s room

And let him find it and take it. He won’t think

Anything of it, but it could cause something.

Othello is already starting to be suspicious because of my suggestions:

This idea can be really dangerous to his mind,

Because at first it might not seem like a lot,

But letting his mind wander can allow him to

Deteriorate to his own demise.

 

This is where Iago is telling the audience of his plan. Iago knows that the handkerchief that Othello gave Desdemona is really important to Othello, since his mother gave it to him. So Iago knows that if if he can get the handkerchief into Cassio’s hands, Othello will assume Desdemona gave it to him. Othello would then think that since the act was so vile, that Desdemona no longer cares about him. This is the last straw in the relationship between Othello and Desdemona, and things kind of go downhill after this. Iago’s audience is the people watching the play, because he is trying to tell them his plan, which creates dramatic irony, since Othello has no idea of Iago’s true motives. This soliloquy also reveals more about Iago’s character and allows the audience to create a more clear character image.

CC BY-SA 4.0 Othello close reading by Carter is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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