In section 3 of act 1 of Shakespeare’s Othello, Othello is under scrutiny surrounding accusations from Desdemona’s father. Desdemona’s father accuses Othello of foul play and witchcraft in his wooing of Desdemona, but Othello is quick to deny all of these accusations, and calls in Desdemona as a part of his defense who says:
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.
(Shakespeare, Othello, 1.3.208-218)
With these lines Desdemona confesses to her father and the others that she is torn between her loyalties to her father and Othello. She is indebted to her father for raising her and being her father, but she also has the loyalty that a wife has to her husband with Othello. Although she is conflicted between her loyalties with her father and Othello, her statement exonerates Othello of misconduct towards Desdemona and proves that he has lawfully won her over as a wife.
Throughout act 3 scene 3 of Othello, Iago is putting the final touches on his plan for duping Othello into believing in an affair between Cassio and Desdemona. He has already planted the seed, and Othello trusts his judgement in the situation, but he is now capable of planting an object that Othello would see as tangible proof: Desdemona’s handkerchief given to her by Othello. Iago says to himself after obtaining the handkerchief:
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!
Iago speaks this immediately after Emilia leaves him alone with the handkerchief, and he quickly reveals his twisted plan to frame Cassio of an affair with Desdemona. He lays out his scheme to confirm Othello’s suspicions in Cassio by allowing Othello to see Cassio with Desdemona’s handkerchief, the final blow in Othello’s already skewed opinion of Cassio. This snippet of Iago shows how evil his plans really are, comparing his lies to poison acting upon Othello’s mind.