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.
My respected father, I see there is a split duty here; I have a responsibility to you, to live and learn; Life and education both teach me How to respect you, for you are the man of commitment; I am your daughter, and now I have a spouse, And as much respect my mother showed To you, favoring you over her father, I challenge that I can show That much love toward my husband. This is where Desdemona is talking with the Duke of Venice and Brabantio and talking about how she wishes she could be able to treat her husband is the way her mother treats her husband. This is found in act one scene three. It seems like Desdemona is having a hard time loving and “respecting” her husband in the same way her mother does her husband (line 5). She feels like she owes her life to her “noble father” (line 1) because he created her and taught her the ways of life (line 2 and 3). Even though she does still love her husband, she cannot see how to cherish her husband as much as her precious father. She explains how it will be a “challenge” (line 9) to her.
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.
I am as fascinated as happy
To see you here with me. Oh my soul is delighted!
If only after every storm came such calms,
Even if the wind blows as mighty as it can!
And for hefty bark to be carried by the sea’s massive waves
Which soar and sink
As low as hell from the height of heaven! If it came to dying at this moment,
“It is now to be the happiest of times, but I fear
My soul is incapable feeling this content
Nor any other kind of comfort like this
After this fortune.
This passage is found in act two scene one. It is set in a sea-port in Cyprus. This is a conversation between Desdemona, Cassio, Iago, and Rodrigo. Iago and Othello have lengthy passages in this scene. Othello enters the groups just a few lines before his statement here. He expresses how “[he is] fascinated [and] happy” to be seeing his peers. He is wonderfully greeted so this is where he is exuberantly returning the favor with some crazy comparisons. He told them, in lines 8 through 11, how he fears his “soul hath [such] content so absolute that not another comfort like to this succeeds in unknown fate”, which means he is so content in this moment, there is no chance he will ever be this content again.
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