My great Father,
I am in a difficult situation.
You gave me life and education.
These things have given me a great advantage.
I respect you greatly.
I am your daughter, but I have to consider my husband too.
My mother was loyal to you,
and she preferred you to her own father.
It is difficult,
But I confess my loyalty to the Moor, my husband.

At this point in the play, Desdemona is speaking to her father before the Venetian senate. She has decided that the loves Othello and wants to be with him. She wants to be loyal to her father who has given her many opportunities, but at the same time, she wants to be with Othello. Therefore, she does “perceive here a divided duty”(Othello 1.3.209). In other words, she has to make a tough decision between her father and Othello. Desdemona’s speech is portraying to the audience how great her love for Othello is, while also speaking to her hardships of leaving her father behind. Not to mention, she shows the audience that she is very courageous because she speaks of this in front of the senate. In addition she uses the example of her mother loving her husband more than her father to show that what she is proposing is not unheard of. This is a impactful moment in her speech because it is personal to her father. Overall, Desdemona uses many strong points to portray her argument to her father and the audience.


My mother had a maid named Barbara.
She was in love, and the man she loved was crazy.
He left her. She knew a song called “Willow.”
It was an old song, but it reminded her of her own situation.
She died singing the song. I think of that song a lot tonight.
I have many things to do,
But I can’t help myself from being upset.
I sing it like poor Barbara. Please, hurry up.

At this point in the play, Desdemona is upset and worried that Othello is going to kill her. She believes this song will help her stay calm and distracted. She states “that song to-night, will not go from my mind; I have much to do, but to go hang my head all at one side”(Othello 4.3.31-33). In other words, Desdemona is helping to stay at peace through this song. Desdemona’s rhetorical stance is that she is very nervous. She needs this song to keep her from thinking about how Othello may treat her. These lines portray to the audience that Desdemona is in trouble. She knows something bad will happen and it is foreshadowing this to the audience. She is portrayed as being very courageous throughout the play, and at this point she is starting to break. Desdemona portrays her position to the audience by using imagery. She describes a very detailed story of her mother’s maid to get her point across. In conclusion, Desdemona uses these lines as examples to the audience of her current situation.

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