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.
This is hard for me.
I owe you respect because you gave me life and education.
You are the one I have to obey.
I am your daughter, but he is my husband
and I owe him as much as mother owed you,
just as she preferred you over her father.
So I give everything to my husband.
Desdemona comes into this scene married to Othello. Her dad finds out about the marriage through Iago and believes that Desdemona was forced into it. She tells her father that this is what she wanted to do. She states how much she loves her father and the fact that he gave her life and education, but along with that came respect too. Now, because she is married, Desdemona has to show the same respect to Othello as her mother once did to her father.
In troth, I think I should; and undo’t when I had
done. Marry, I would not do such a thing for a
joint-ring, nor for measures of lawn, nor for
gowns, petticoats, nor caps, nor any petty
exhibition; but for the whole world,–why, who would
not make her husband a cuckold to make him a
monarch? I should venture purgatory for’t.
I think I should and then undo it when I did it.
I wouldn’t do this for a nice ring, or fine linen,
or for gowns, or petticoats, or hats.
But for the whole world?
Who wouldn’t cheat on her husband to make
him a king. I would risk my soul for that.
Emilia is talking about how Desdemona cheated on Othello. She is saying how she agrees with Desdemona to do that to put her husband before herself to make him a king. She would risk her soul to make her husband the best that she can be. She doesn’t want the fancy things, but to make sure the person she loves is happy.
Othello Close Reading by Brooklyn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.