Othello Key Quotes AQA A Level English Literature

An old black ram is tupping your white ewe Iago uses crude, animalistic imagery to infuriate Brabantio, and contrasts the races and ages of the two lovers to highlight Desdemona’s purity and innocence, compared to Othello, who seems like a lascivious old man. The verb tupping almost seems violent, and so is perhaps used to give the audience a prejudiced view of Othello before they have even seen him on stage.
But that I love the gentle Desdemona Othello’s soft language contrasts with his image painted by the other characters. He juxtaposes love with war to highlight the two different parts of his life: battle and his wife. As he describes Desdemona as ‘gentle’ this could be Shakespeare presenting Othello as aware of their many differences.
She loved me for the dangers I had passed, and I loved her that she did pity them It could be argued that their relationship is based on pity, rather than genuine love. She is young, particularly compared to Othello, but in addition to this, Shakespeare presents her as naive, and so when Othello showed her attention, she became enamoured by him. She came to pity him and thus began their romantic relationship. However, it could also be argued that their marriage is based on genuine and lasting love, as the language they use towards one another is affectionate and faithful. But, as inevitably their marriage breaks down because of Othello’s jealousy, perhaps it is only based on pity.
I do perceive here a divided duty Her ‘duty’ shows the position of women at the time: obedient towards their fathers and husbands. Therefore because Othello has not been approved by her father, her duty has been ‘divided’ and as she loves both of them, she is presented as unsure how to please both of them.
That I did love the Moor to live with him She standing up to her father and the court, Shakespeare is presenting her as a strong character who has stood up o the patriarchal society. As she speaks in iambic pentameter, this suggests that she is eloquent and well educated, contrasting her with the other women of the play. However, even though she is well educated, she isn’t knowledgeable about the world and is presented as naive when it comes to knowledge of life.
I saw Othello’s visage in his mind Shows Othello’s lack of self-confidence, and could be used to suggest that the blackness of Othello’s face is deceptive, and to truly know him, as Desdemona does, one needs to look inside him. However it could also be argued that Desdemona doesn’t truly know him, as in the end he kills her and she can’t believe he would be able to do such a thing.
Valiant parts This is repeated by different characters throughout the play to describe Othello. This shows that despite his race, he has a good reputation due to his military position.
Moth of peace She portrays herself as useless while Othello’s at war, as she is connected with peace. However, moths were also seen as destructive creatures, and so this could be seen as ironic foreshadowing of how she unknowingly destroys her marriage and ultimately gets killed.
Let her have your voice Shakespeare presents Othello as thinking differently to the society at the time, by seeing Desdemona as his equal, and trying to make sure she has a ‘voice’ of her own.
Your son in law is far more fair than black Fair here could mean morally right, unlike Brabantio thinks, as he thinks Othello has only married Desdemona by using witchcraft or black magic. This suggests that even though his skin is black, his conscience is fair.
Look to her Moor, if thou hast eyes to see: She has deceived her father, and may thee. Here, Brabantio is warning Othello, which shows that since his daughter has fallen in love with him he doesn’t trust her. However, Othello does trust her here, which is foreshadowing of the end because is perceived to have been unfaithful and so he no longer trusts her, leading to her death. The rhyming couplet emphasises the ominous feeling of the warning.
Virtue? A fig! Iago is trying to explain that we decide our fate in life; it is under our control. Figs have been associated with sexuality in literature since the early 16th century. (Williams) They are used to represent the female genitals and so Iago here is juxtaposing virtue with sexuality, emphasising his blasé attitudes towards faithfulness.
I hate the Moor Repeated by Iago throughout the play, showing his strong feelings for Othello. This contrasts with later in the play when homoerotic themes are explored and the two characters are almost described as having a marriage ceremony.
That profit’s yet to come ‘tween me and you Here marriage is associated with money and what ‘profit’ can come to each party. This would have been the view at the time, but for Othello to say it is unusual, as so far throughout the play Shakespeare has presented him as going against the idea of the patriarchal society.
‘Tis monstrous! Iago Shakespeare’s use of punctuation is ironic, as without the caesura of the exclamation mark, Iago himself is described as monstrous. This is a subtle example of dramatic irony, as the audience knows (but Othello doesn’t) how ‘monstrous’ Iago and his plan truly are.
But never more be officer of mine Harsh decision because of Iago’s influence. Short sentence shows irritation and how he is ashamed of his lieutenant.
Reputation, reputation, reputation! Stream of consciousness shows how vital reputation was to a man’s life at the time. Shakespeare could be suggesting that Cassio’s reputation is his soul (Held) and so the downfall of it will ruin his chances on judgement day.
I think you think I love you This exchange between Iago and Cassio could be connected to Shakespeare’s presentation of Iago as perhaps homosexual, as this paradox could be used to show his confused sexuality. This can later be linked to him and Othello later declaring their love for each other.
I’ll pour this pestilence into his ear Poisoning is a persistent motif throughout the play and poisoning through the ear is repeated throughout ‘Hamlet’. The Machiavellian villain uses manipulation and persuasion to kill Othello, effectively poisoning him through his words.
And out of her own goodness make the net That shall enmesh them all Shakespeare uses this line of Iago to highlight that it is Desdemona’s innocence (and perhaps naivety) that causes booth her and her husband’s tragic ending. By being the ‘gentle’ character she is and trying to help Cassio regain his position as lieutenant, it makes it seem as though she is being unfaithful. The metaphor of the net has been used in the bible to represent evil, which can be connected to Iago’s villainy.
Ha? I like not that. Here, Iago has planted the first seed of doubt into Othello’s mind. In Shakespearean literature, a question mark was often used where modern writers would use an exclamation mark, and so this could be used here. However, it is likely that the word may instead have a rhetorical interrogative, suggesting he is unsure of what he sees.
Suitor This concrete noun has unintentional romantic connotations, not helping Desdemona to make Othello believe she is a faithful wife.
Feed on nourishing dishes Shows Desdemona’s domestic love for her husband, and her genuine care for him. This contrasts with the picture Iago has been painting of her, but still Othello believes in his ensign more than his wife.
Excellent wretch, perdition catch my soul! Oxymoron shows conflicted emotions . Perdition means damnation and could be showing there is war between love as well as being used as a setting for the play, and so Othello is questioning as the two aspects of his life are becoming intertwined. This is also foreshadowing for the ending.
As if there were some monster in thy thought Othello’s metaphor ironically echoes Iago’s description of his plot as a ‘monstrous birth’, and highlights how awful Iago’s manipulative plan is.
My lord, you know I love you This could be connected to the bible in a contrasting way to the original ‘Lord, thou knowest that I love thee’ from the book of John. It could be Iago showing false respect towards his master, or it could be a deeper homoerotic love that he has for Othello.
‘Swounds Othello swearing shows his decline in language and eloquence and therefore his decline in power because of Iago’s manipulation. This is foreshadowing for his later fits of ‘epilepsy’.
O beware, my lord, of jealousy! It is the green-eyed monster The notion that jealousy is green-eyed is probably older than Shakespeare, although Shakespeare is our earliest authority in print. In The Merchant of Venice, Portia refers to “green-eyed jealousy”, and here Shakespeare uses the metaphor “green-ey’d monster.” Renaissance Englishmen often paired colors with emotions or personal qualities: both green and yellow are emblematic of jealousy, and green is also emblematic of envy. Some colors are associated with the bodily fluids or “humors” thought to make up the temperament; green and black were the colors attributed to bile.
Who dotes yet doubts
Away at once with love or jealousy!
I am bound to thee forever
Villain, be sure thou prove my love a *****!
Ocular proof
I’ll tear her all to pieces!
(Othello kneels)(Iago kneels)(They rise)
Fair devil
Now art thou my lieutenant
I am your own forever
They eat us hungerly, and when they are full They belch us
An unauthorised kiss!
Lie with her? Lie on her? We say ‘lie on her’
(He falls down in a trance)
Dost thou mock me?
A horned man’s a monster and a beast
How shall I murder him, Iago?
(Striking her)
Thou young and rose-lipped cherubin, Ay there, look grim as hell
That married with Othello
Wedding sheets
The Moor’s abused by some most villainous knave
(She kneels)
It is the cause, it is the cause
Thy rose, I cannot give it vital growth again
Have you prayed tonight, Desdemon?
I would not kill thy soul
Why gnaw you so your nether lip?
Peace, and be still
Out, strumpet!
(Grasping him)
I have no wife
Nobody – I myself
O, the more angel she, and you the blacker devil!
‘Tis proper I obey him, but not now
Pure grief Shore his old thread in twain
She loved thee, cruel Moor
From this time forth I will never speak word
Speak of me as I am
Like the base Indian, threw a pearl away
I kissed thee ere I killed thee – no way but this: killing myself, to die upon a kiss