Othello Quote Analysis

“Look to her, Moor, if tho hast eyes to see:/She has deceived her father, and may thee” ( Speaker: Brabantino To: OthelloContext: Desdemona just explained how she fell in love with Othello and Brabantino is forced to give his blessing to the new couple. The Duke and the Senate order Othello to depart to Cyprus immediately and give their blessings as well.Significance: Advances the plot → foreshadows that Desdemona may lie again to OthelloDevelops Desdemona’s character → she can easily deceive people
“But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve/For daws to peck at; I am not what I am” (1.1.64-65). Speaker: Iago To: Roderigo Context: Roderigo blames Iago how he failed to help him in his courtship of Desdemona even though Roderigo paid Iago. Iago reveals to Roderigo that he also hates Othello because the position as lieutenant is given to Cassio, instead of himself, who has more experience in the battlefield.Significance: Develops Iago’s character & Theme → he does not appear the way he actually is (appearance vs. reality), can very easily deceive people
“Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our wills are/gardeners; so that if we will plant nettles or sow lettuce, set/hyssop and weed up thyme, supply it with one gender of herbs or distract it with many, either to have it sterile with/idleness or manured with industry, why, the power and/corrigible authority of this lies in our wills. If the balance of /our lives had not one scale of reason to poise another of/sensuality, the blood and baseness of our natures would conduct us to most preposterous conclusions. But we have/reason to cool our raging motions, our carnal sting, our/unbitted lusts; whereof I take this that you call love to be a/sect or scion” (1.3.319-330) Speaker: Iago To: RoderigoContext: Roderigo believes that he doesn’t have a chance to be with Desdemona (since she is so in love with Othello) and becomes lovesick, having thoughts of killing himself. Iago thinks it’s stupid to kill yourself out of unrequited loveSignificance: Metaphor – Iago compares our bodies to gardens and our will to gardeners as to which, depending on what we decide to do with our gardens, it’ll either be good or bad. Comparing that to minds, we need rational minds and to be committed to attend to our emotions and bodies.Symbol – we are reminded of Iago as the master gardener, where he is able to plant the “seeds of doubt” into Othello’s mind, which ultimately affects his emotions
“Doth, like a poisonous mineral, gnaw my inwards;/And nothing can or shall content my soul/Till I am even’d with him, wife for wife;/Or failing so, yet that I put the Moor/At least into a jealousy so strong/That judgement cannot cure. . .” (2.1.285-290). Speaker: Iago To: himselfContext: Iago lies to Roderigo that Desdemona is already getting tired of Othello and is now in love with Cassio (using their conversation as evidence). Iago wants Cassio to be removed from his position so he manipulates Roderigo to help carry out that plan. His plan is to get Cassio drunk and have Roderigo provoke Cassio while he is intoxicated. During his soliloquy, Iago reveals to himself that he is making Othello jealous of his wife and Cassio, which the jealousy is so strong, it would blind his judgement. Iago is doing this because he suspects Othello has slept with his wife. Significance: Advances the plot → foreshadows that the seeds of jealousy will become uncontrollable for OthelloDevelops the character of Iago → explains why is plotting revenge against Othello
“Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have lost my/reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what/remains is bestial. My reputation, Iago, my reputation!” (2.3.241-243). Speaker: Cassio To: IagoContext: Cassio regrets his actions when he was intoxicated because he got removed as lieutenant. Cassio knows that he lost his reputation due to the fight with Roderigo.Significance: theme of reputation → doing foolish actions can ruin one’s reputation, the importance of reputation to Cassio which can ruin his career as lieutenant
“And what’s he then that says I play the villain?/When this advice is free I give and and honest,” (2.3.308-309). Speaker: Iago To: himselfContext: Iago advices Cassio to plead his case to Desdemona because she can act as a mediator, hoping that Cassio will be in Othello’s favour. Cassio agrees and thanks Iago for the advice. However, in this soliloquy, it is revealed that Iago gave honest advice only to be used to his advantage.Significance: Develops character of Iago → he manipulates Cassio’s trust towards him and use it to his advantage.Advances the plot → Iago will continue to fake his good intentions in order to achieve his goal
“Cassio, my lord? No, sure, I cannot think it,/That he would steal away so guilty-like,/Seeing you coming” (3.3.37-39). Speaker: Iago To: OthelloContext: Desdemona and Cassio discuss Cassio’s situation about Othello. As Iago and Othello approach from a distance, Cassio takes his leave.Significance: Develops Iago’s Character – plant’s “seeds of doubt” into Othello’s mind by making it appear as though Cassio, with such a loyal personality, cannot be the one leaving with guilty actions.Develops the plot – with Othello thinking that Cassio is suspicious of something, this has worked to Iago’s advantage and will soon make Othello extremely jealous.
“O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;/It is the green-eyed monster, which doth mock/The meat it feeds on” (3.3.165-167). Speaker: Iago To: OthelloContext: Iago sees Cassio leave Desdemona’s room without acknowledging Othello. Iago uses this opportunity to accuse Cassio that he is cheating with Desdemona. Othello questions the honesty of Cassio but Iago does not directly reply, which leads to Othello doubting Cassio’s honesty. However, Iago warns Othello not to be a jealous man.Significance: Literary device – Iago is using a metaphor to compare jealousy to a monster. He uses the traits of a monster to describe jealousy (a monster is destructive, frightening, powerful) Develops Iago’s character – very manipulative; pretends to warn Othello not to be a jealous man, yet inputs the thoughts that Desdemona is cheating with Cassio into Iago’s mind
“I have a pain upon my forehead, here” (3.3.284) Speaker: Othello To: DesdemonaContext: Desdemona comes to check on Othello and Othello speaks of having a headache, as to which Desdemona takes out her handkerchief and drops it.Significance: Symbol – Othello is mentioning his forehead, which when speaking of a pain “upon my forehead”, it indicates where the horns of a cuckold (wife cheated on him) protrude. Othello is hinting that he thinks Desdemona has been unfaithful.Dramatic irony – Othello suspects Desdemona of being unfaithful, but the audience knows that she is completely honest
“They are all but stomachs, and we all but food;/They eat us hungerly, and when they are full,/They belch us” (3.4.99-101). Speaker: Emilia To: DesdemonaContext: Desdemona denies that she has the handkerchief when Othello persistently asks for it. He leaves, and Desdemona and Emilia discuss Othello’s state of mindSignificance – gender roles → Emilia thinks that men are very dominant once it comes to the relationship between man and woman and they would often objectify women Metaphor → comparing women as food (objects); once men have devour them, they would get bored and dispose them (like vomiting food)
“If any wretch have put this in your head,/Let heaven requite it with the serpent’s curse!” (4.2.15-16). Speaker: Emilia To: OthelloContext: Othello speaks with Emilia and refuses to believe her defence of Desdemona. Desdemona enters and Othello rudely snaps at her and accuses her of being a whore.Significance: Allusion – “serpent’s curse” refers to the story in the bible where Adam and Eve were tempted by the serpent to eat from the tree of knowledge. This relates to Othello because he was tempted by Iago into thinking that his wife was cheating on himDramatic Irony – the audience knows that Iago was the “wretch” that put these ideas into Othello’s head, which is ironic as Iago is Emilia’s husband, which symbolizes Iago’s attitude towards his relationship with Emilia and how Emilia doesn’t know Iago’s plans
The poor soul sat sighing by a sycamore tree,Sing all a green willow;Her hand on her bosom, her head on her knee,Sing willow, willow, willow,The fresh streams ran by her and murmur’d her moans;Sing willow, willow, willow,Her salt tears fell from her, and soften’d the stones- (4.3.39-45). Speaker: Desdemona To: EmiliaContext: Emilia assists Desdemona into preparing for bed, where they discuss the situation occurring with Othello and Desdemona’s relationship. Desdemona sings the “Willow Song”, about a woman whose love left her.Significance: Symbol – by singing about a song where the husband left a woman, it suggests that Othello may leave Desdemona, like the man did to the woman in the song, and how Desdemona seems to accept this
“A guiltless death I die” (5.2.122). Speaker: Desdemona To: Emilia, Othello?Context: Othello has just strangled Desdemona and Emilia comes into the room reciting the news of Roderigo’s death. She notices Desdemona dying on the bed and all that has gone by becomes clear to Othello.Significance: Advances the plot – Desdemona dies and Othello has wrongly killed her, which he will soon noticeTone – Desdemona speaks calmly stating she has died an innocent death, and Othello has wrongly killed her. Until the end she defends her virtue and her innocence.
Speak of me as I am. Nothing extenuate,Nor set down aught in malice. Then must you speakOf one that loved not wisely, but too well;Of one not easily jealous, but, being wrought,Perplex’d in the extreme; of one whose hand, Like the base Judean, threw a pearl away (5.2.342-347). Speaker: Othello To: Lodovico, Montano, Cassio, Iago, GratianoContext: Othello realizes that Iago had planned for his demise and that Desdemona was innocent the whole time. Lodovico strips him of his rank and power and puts him into jail. Othello kills himself after realizing this.Significance: Develops Othello’s character – even after his death, Othello needs to maintain his reputation and be known as a man who loved his wife; he needs to justify killing Desdemona wrongly. Othello is known as calm in this situation and recovered from the jealous anger that caused him to kill his wife.Develops a sense of pathos – the audience may feel as though Othello should be pitied because of the anguish he has gone through, knowing he killed his wife wrongly (“threw a pearl away”), and wanting to known as one that loved her very muchMetaphor – “pearl” meaning Desdemona, and how Othello, because of his jealousy, rejected Desdemona and ultimately threw her away