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.

 

Line By Line Paraphrase:

My dear father

This is not easy for me and I am torn

I owe you a lot because you gave me life and an education

My life and education are very important to me

I respect you a lot; you are in charge

I am your daughter: but this is my husband

I owe him as much as my mother owed you

Just like she wanted you to be a father

So I have to be obedient to the Moor who is my husband

 

During this time in the play, Desdemona is explaining to her father that she loves Othello. As you can tell, her father isn’t happy about this. He doesn’t want her to marry Othello. Throughout this whole part of the play, Desdemona is trying to explain to her father why she must go against him and how her love is too strong for her to care what her father thinks of this whole marriage.

 

During this part in the play, Desdemona uses many rhetorical strategies to try to sway her father into being for the marriage rather than against it. One very useful rhetorical device that she uses is complimenting her father and using very gentle words to break the news to him. In line 210 she says, “To you I am bound for life and education”. This basically means that she owes him a lot because he gave her the opportunity to life and education. Saying this strokes his ego in a way that could potentially help Desdemona let her marry the so called love of her life. Another place that uses rhetorical strategies is in line 208 when she calls him ‘noble’. This shows her father that she respects him and that she isn’t marrying Othello just to spite him. It also is another ego stroke and could go a very long way in helping Desdemona with her predicament.  

 

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!

 

Line By Line Paraphrase

A hangman’s noose will help him! Let him go to hell!

Why should he be able to call her a whore? Who has she been with?

When has she had the time, the place, and the means to sleep with someone who isn’t her husband? How does that at all make sense?

The moor is being tricked by some crook, some terrible villain, some horrible fellow.

Oh, I wish I could find out who this was

And give the whip to a good man who could beat him senseless.

Even from the east to the west!

During this time in the play, Emilia is yelling at Othello for hitting Desdemona. Othello hit Desdemona because he thought that she cheated on him. Right now, everything is going wrong because Desdemona is very confused as to what she did to Othello to make him treat her so poorly and Emilia is fed up with all the drama and lying because she is always at Desdemona’s beckon call so she knows that Desdemona isn’t lying.  

 

I thought that Emilia was very good at using rhetorical devices to argue the case that there was no way the Desdemona had cheated on Othello. One very effective rhetorical device that she used was evidence. In line 161, Emilia says “What place? what time? what form? what likelihood?”. This is translated into, “When has she had the time, the place, and the means to sleep with someone who isn’t her husband? How does that at all make sense?” Emilia is basically saying that there is no possible way that Desdemona cheated on her because she doesn’t have the time, the place, and the means to sleep with somebody else. She is saying that there is literally no way that Desdemona could’ve done that and kept it a secret from her. Another rhetorical device that Emilia used was her tone. Throughout this whole passage, Emilia’s tone was very irritated and mad. This tone is particularly useful because it shows the audience that she is passionate about what she is talking about and knows what she is talking about. If she wasn’t that passionate, it would show the audience that she didn’t know what she was talking about.

 

CC BY-SA 4.0 Othello YV1 by mbaillie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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