In the following passage of the play, Othello, Desdemona’s father is upset with her for lacking in being dutiful to him. As he lectures her, Desdemona stands up for what she believes is the right thing to do and she argues with him to prove her point and her motive for her actions.
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 great father,
I do recognize that I have a conflicting duty.
I am bound to you through life and education,
For I have learned so much from my life and education such as
How to respect you because you are my authority.
I am your daughter, but I also have a husband.
And I must be dutiful to him, just as my mother was
To you. She also was more dutiful towards you than her own father.
It is challenging for me to lack my duty to you, but I must
Be dutiful to my husband as well.
Desdemona uses Pathos to emotionally appeal her father, and imagery to persuade him to understand her stance. She does this by explaining that she must now be dutiful to her husband, just as her mother was to her father. She describes how her mother obeyed her father over her very own father, which makes the story personal for him. This strategy will ultimately persuade her father and let him have a better understanding of her actions.
In this scene of Othello, Desdemona is heartbroken over losing Othello’s trust and love especially because she has no idea what she has done to make him this upset. But little does she know, it is Iago who put the idea in Othello’s head that Desdemona is disloyal to him. In this passage, Desdemona is asking for Iago’s advice and help in order for her to win back Othello.
O good Iago,
What shall I do to win my lord again?
Good friend, go to him; for, by this light of heaven,
I know not how I lost him. Here I kneel:
If e’er my will did trespass ‘gainst his love,
Either in discourse of thought or actual deed,
Or that mine eyes, mine ears, or any sense,
Delighted them in any other form;
Or that I do not yet, and ever did.
And ever will–though he do shake me off
To beggarly divorcement–love him dearly,
Comfort forswear me!
Oh Iago my friend,
What shall I do to win back my lord’s love again?
Good friend, please go to him, for I have no idea
How I lost him. Here I am, and I would never
Betray his love. Whether or not we were in an argument
or I committed an actual deed, or if one of my actions attracted someone else.
That has not happened yet, and it never will, for if it did he would instantly divorce me.
I will forever love him dearly. Oh please comfort me.
As Desdemona begs Iago for advice, she uses Pathos again to emotionally appeal to him. For example, by calling him a friend, she starts out with a personal, calming and persuasive tone in order to get Iago to feel like he should help her. Not only does she use Pathos, but she also uses Ethos as an ethical appeal to convince Iago that she respects him, his character, and his decisions. These are both excellent uses of two out of the three modes of persuasion in writing.