English Literature Othello

“For the seas worth” (Said by Othello about Desdemona, Act 1 scene 2) He would not trade her “for the seas worth”, which shows their bond and his devotion to her.
“Are we turn’d Turks” (Said to Cassio by Othello when we gets into a drunken fight, Act 2 scene 3) It’s interesting that Othello uses a culture to describe their behaviour when he himself derives from a separate culture. He continues by comparing the Turks “barbarous” behaviour to the “Christian” nature of the Venetians which dehumanises the Turks in the sense that he is often dehumanized with animalistic imagery.
“Her name, that was as fresh as Dian’s visage, is now begrimed and black as mine own face.” (Said by Othello about Desdemona, Act 3 scene 3) This can be roughly translated to, her reputation was as pure as the snow, but now it’s as dirty and black as my own face. He’s calling her a harlot by using the black and white imagery once again demonstrating his growing belief in this allegation.
“Here’s a young and sweating devil here, who constantly rebels.” (About Desdemona, Act 3 scene 4) Translates into someone with a young sweating hand like this one is bound to act up sooner or later which presents he is just waiting for her to slip up so he can catch her red handed in the act. This could be used in juxtaposition with his next line “tis a good hand”
“There’s magic in the web of it.” (Act 3 scene 4) Othello is claiming that there is magic in the fabric of the handkerchief eh gave Desdemona. The handkerchief is the symbol for his and Desdemona’s love since it was the first gift he gave her, hence the reason he is so insulted when she supposedly gives it away to Cassio. The original symbol may be considered to have gained a new darker meaning.
“Oh, it comes o’er my memory, as doth the raven o’er the infectious house” (Act 4 scene 1) Othello is stating that knowing Cassio has possessed his handkerchief is giving him nightmares.
“Handkerchief – confession – handkerchief” and “Nose, ears and lips” (Act 4 scene 1) Othello’s current speech is an antithesis to the coherent and calculated sentences he used in the first act. His linguistic and emotional state are paralleled as a consequence it could be argued he becomes the savage beast he would have been accused of being due to his race.
“Horned man” (Act 4 scene 1) This is how Othello refers to himself which could be a relation to a cukckold , a creature men would turn into once their wife had cheated on them which would bring great shame upon them back in the 1600’s.
“She’s a simple bawd that cannot say as much.” (Said by Othello about Emilia, Act 4 scene 2) He judges Emilia for standing up for Desdemona’s innocence by saying the dumbest brothel-keeper would tell the same story. His words imply Emilia runs a brothel and that all women are promiscuous liars at heart.
“I took you for that cunning wh*re of Venice that married with Othello” (To Desdemona, Act 4 scene 2) Othello uses sarcasm against her which presents him as unfair and vindictive as well as showing his distrust of Venice in general. “Whre” or “strumpet”, a Shakespearean equivalent to whre, are frequently used within this scene since he is so bitter and sure of her infidelity.
“That whiter skin of hers than snow” (About Desdemona Act 5 scene 2) Othello is mocking her white skin since he believes her to have a black soul within. He may want to kill her or put out her light, to restore her back to the innocence she once had.
“My wife! My wife! What wife? I have no wife.” (After he killed Desdemona, Act 5 scene 2) By losing his wife he has lost his honour. The repetition implies he is confused about the situation he has caused and regrets his decision almost instantly.
“Blow me about in winds, roast me in sulphur Wash me in steep-down gulfs of liquid fire!” (Act 5 scene 2) Othello wants to be punished for the wrongs he has committed which shows him returning to his original moral compass he had at the start of the play. Despite Iago arguably being the main character Othello gains the final spotlight through reverberate, pain and misfortune.
“One not easily jealous, but being wrought, perplexed in the extreme.” (Act 5 scene 2) Othello is trying to maintain the allusion of him being an honourable man by blaming the lies that Iago conjured up. He is in denial.
“Drop tears as fast as the Arabian trees their medicinal gum.” (Act 5 scene 2) Othello begins to use a semantic field of words that relate to tribes or ethnicity.
“Like the base Indian, threw a pearl away richer than all his tribe.” (Act 5 scene 2) A metaphor laden with racist overtones used by Othello.
“In following him, I follow myself” (Said about Othello by Iago, Act 1 scene 1) Emphasizes that he is acting out of his own self-interest. The first scene foreshadows the deception he will later engineer throughout the play.
“Wear my heart on my sleeve.” (Act 1, scene 1) It’s ironic since true honesty would destroy Iago . Could be linked to another Shakespearean character Richard III who also lacks remorse and uses deceit or false representations.
“An old black ram is topping your white ewe” (Said to Brabantio by Iago, Act 1 scene 1) Introduces animal imagery which could relate to racism and implies illicit/forbidden passion. Juxtaposition between the black and white is created which when mixed with Iago’s candid tone makes this statement more infuriating for Brabantio to hear.
“Barbary horse” (Said about Othello by Iago, Act 1 scene 1) Reinforces a lustful image an animal imagery.
“He tonight hath boarded a land carack.” (Said about Othello by Iago, Act 1 scene 2) Land carack = a treasure ship, the metaphor makes Othello appear as a pirate that steals Desdemona’s love making her just a prize. This is calculated so Cassio views her as an object to be taken and makes Othello seem less honourable than he is.
“I’ll make the Moor thank me, love me, and reward me for making him egregiously an ass.” (Act 2 scene 1)
“Honest” (Used consistently throughout the play) Always used by or in reference to Iago to emphasis the dramatic irony since he plays on honesty to make the other characters believe in a separate reality. Honesty becomes a difficult liability that acts as a catalyst in the downfall of characters.
“Women are wildcats in your kitchens, saints in your injuries, devils being offended.” (Act 2 scene 1) Though Iago is married he doesn’t have a very favourable impression of women.
“You rise to play, and go to bed to work.” (To Emilia by Iago, Act 2 scene 1) He views all women as promiscuous
“He is a soldier fit to stand by Caesar” (About Cassio, Act 2 scene 3) Iago uses this metaphor to describe Cassio’s honour and courtliness, which is an antithesis to Iago’s deceptive nature.
“Tis to his virtue a just equinox, the one as long as th’ other.”(. (About Cassio by Iago , Act 2 scene 3) This quote is basically saying that Cassio has a serious weakness which Iago is willing to use to his advantage to taint Cassio’s honourable reputation
“If consequence do but approve my dream, my boat sails freely, both with wind and stream” (Act 2 scene 3) How perceptive the characters are, Cassio and Othello, determines their downfall .They both failed to notice Iago’s plot and suffered for it. Iago takes advantage of this.
“Reputation is an idle and most false imposition” (Act 2 scene 3) A reputation is a useless and fake quality that others impose on us, is the translation. Iago uses this to console Cassio when he is fired for getting into a drunken fight, which Iago fuelled. Iago does this to maintain the illusion of his honesty.
“So will I turn her virtue into pitch and out of her own goodness make the net that shall enmesh them all.” (Said about Desdemona by Iago, Act 2 scene 3) translate into, and that’s how I’ll turn her good intentions into a big trap to snag them all, thus revealing his developing plans. It also demonstrates that every character within this play has their tragic flaw which causes their downfalls. Othello/jealousy, Cassio/alcohol, Desdemona/good nature. Iago also uses this to speech to end the act despite Othello being the main character of the play it shows that Iago is the most central to the play which is supported by the theorist Bradley.
“I cannot think it that he would steal away so guilty-like” (Said to Othello about Cassio leaving Desdemona by Iago, Act 3 scene 3) Iago is planting the seed of doubt in Othello’s mind to imply their alleged affair.
“Green-eyed monster” (Said to Othello by Iago, Act 3 scene 3) The symbol for Othello’s developing emotions that begins to steer his behaviour. Iago making Othello’s flaws clear to the audience is deeply ironic. Othello then begins to feel self-conscious about his colour and questions why white women was with him in the first place which leads to him believing in her infidelity.
“Prime goats, as hot as monkeys” (Said about Cassio and Desdemona by Iago, Act 3 scene 3) He describes the couple as being lustful to provoke Othello by using animal imagery
“Breaks out into savage madness” (About Othello by Iago , Act 4 scene 1) Savage could be used to show Othello’s racial differences and clear downfall as a character.
“Excels the quirks of blazoning pens.” (Said by Cassio about Desdemona, Act 2 scene 1) He’s basically calling her god’s masterpiece, which could be viewed as her being objectified. He isn’t attracted to Desdemona but does greatly respect her, he also calls her “divine Desdemona.”
“For thy solicitor shall rather die than give thy cause away.” (Said to Cassio, Act 3 scene 3) She is essentially saying, I’m your advocate, and I’d rather die than give up on you. Ironically, she would most likely still be alive if she didn’t insist on Cassio’s innocence making this her tragic flaw in the play. If Desdemona didn’t feel a sense of justice, caused by her good nature.
“I have no judgement on an honest face.” (Said to Othello about Cassio by Desdemona, Act 3 scene 3) Desdemona is saying she can’t judge an honest man and neither should Othello. However this only causes Othello’s suspicions to grow with the help of Iago fuelling the fire. Its Othello’s panicked and confused state, demonstrated by his use of prose (lines 110-122), when Desdemona leaves that causes him to believe Iago’s empty statements.
“Willow song” (Act 4 scene 3) A song that Desdemona’s mother’s maid used to sing to her until she was killed due to domestic abuse, foreshadowing Desdemona’s death. Her character could be related to Ophelia since they both they’re both good, virtuous and obedient yet are subjected to tragic fates due to their innocence.
“Nobody. I myself. Farewell. Commend me to my kind lord. Oh, farewell!” (Said to Emilia on Desdemona’s deathbed, Act 5 scene 2) She blames no one but herself for her death presenting her ingrained submissive behaviour of women during the 1600’s. She also tells Emilia to commend her lord, tell him she loves him, even after the pain she has caused him. However she says “Oh, falsely, falsely murdered” soon after and still vouches for her innocence.
“Some cogging, cozening slave, to get some office have not devised this slander” (Act 4 scene 2) This can be translated into ,some meddling, lying jerk made up this rumour to get some position, making it clear Emilia now knows of the deceit. She is still unware that it’s her husband that caused everything to wrong hence the irony of her condemning the culprit.
“Let husbands know their wives have sense like them. They see and smell and have their palates both for sweet and sour, as husbands have.” (Act 4 scene 3) Emilia could arguably be viewed as a feminist for promoting gender equality since they have the same senses.
“Run from her guard age to the sooty bosom of a thing such as thou” (Said to Othello by Brantio, Act 1 scene 2) He’s basically saying Desdemona wouldn’t deny all the handsome young men to run off with a black man. Clearly demonstrates racism since he doesn’t mention the young handsome men being white because young handsome men are automatically handsome and black men are automatically
“Thou hast enchanted her!” (Said to Othello by Brantio, Act 1 scene 2) He disregards all of Othello’s good qualities, allowing his prejudices’ to enforce the ideology that Othello must be involved with black magic or paganism. At this point in time (1603) there were free black people though they would have never risen to Othello’s rank. Othello avoids stereotypes more effectively than Shylock, another character of Shakespeare, who represented the anti-Semitic views as well as the racist views of this time period.
“Engulfs and swallows other sorrows, and is still itself.” (Act 1 scene 3) Brantio presents his deep sadness and objection to Desdemona’s marriage. Also foreshadows a confrontation between Brabantio and Desdemona that might risk his love for her if when she chooses Othello over him.
“Hast has my purse as if the strings were thine.” (Said to Iago by Roderigo, Act 1 scene 1) Shows the trust he shares for Iago and what he might view as a friendship, however Iago is manipulating him so he has access to money that may better his wider plan. Demonstrates clearly the theme of deceit.
“the thick lips” (Said about Othello by Roderigo, Act 1 scene 1) It’s an synecdoche (figure of speech) that highlights Othello ethnic differences and demonstrates Roderigo’s dislike for Othello based on his colour and marriage to Desdemona ,since he himself is white he feels that he outranks Othello.
“Your words and performances are no kin together.” (To Iago by Roderigo, Act 4 scene 2) Roderigo finally realises Iago’s treachery, since Iago’s plan isn’t complete this foreshadows Roderigo’s death due to Iago’s fear he may reveal the plan.
“If virtue no delighted beauty lack, you son in law is far more fair than black.” (Said to Brabantio about Othello by the Duke, Act 1 scene 3) Black was associated with ugliness, sin and darkness, so black people were viewed with as possessing the same traits as the colour. This is a back handed compliment, since he has white traits which is good though his black skin could be improved. Also shows a juxtaposition between white and black.