Othello Notes
Importance of the theme of Reputation / Honour in Othello:
The significant theme of reputation and honour is portrayed frequently throughout the
novel Othello. Many of the characters in the novel carefully consider the consequences of
their thoughts and actions in regards to their reputation and honour, making sure that they
appear noble even when their actions are irrational and selfish. Such an example is shown
when Iago appears to be simply stating the obvious about Desdemona, instead of
manipulating Othello to believe his own fears.
Othello is dictated by his desire to live up to his reputation, achieved through years of being
a general in Venice. Reputation, used in conjunction with jealousy and trust, provide the key
elements which provoke Othello’s mental disintegration shown predominantly by language
techniques, into a world of mistrust and assumption.
It is logical to assume that Othello’s suicide was a consequence of his need to preserve any
traces of reputation left from his dedicated work as a general; from the characteristics
portrayed of Othello it is implied that the act of imprisonment would crush Othello – he
would no longer be an honourable citizen. In a similar way to Othello’s suicide, Iago’s
sudden and unpredicted vow of silence could be assumed to also be a form of selfpreservation, manipulating other characters by preventing any more damage to his
reputation by not accidentally admitting details of his ignobility.
External sources (not quoted, just useful information)
“The theme of honour and reputation intertwines with those of perception and
trust.” www.megaessays.com/viewpaper/49703.html
His reputation doesn't allow him to confront her with the situation and talk things
over. He is also angry that his reputation would be tarnished when found out that he
is a cuckold. He proves that his reputation means a lot to him when he says, "For
nought I did in hate, but all in honour." Othello believed that reputation was
everything, because of his status as a general and the fact that those under him and
above him respected him. Othello's reputation played a big role in the outcome of
the play and in part caused Desdemona's death and his own.
Key quotes regarding Honour / Reputation from Othello with references and
“Is this the noble Moor” Line 259, pg 185, Act 4, scene 1 Illustrates that Othello has
established a noble reputation.
“For if she be not honest, chaste, and true / There’s no man happy; the purest of
their wives / Is foul as slander” Line 16, pg 187, Act 4, scene 2
“To whom my lord? With whom? How am I false?” (Desdemona) Line 39, pg 189, Act
4, scene 2 – Desdemona cannot comprehend how her reputation is being perceived
in such a manner. Use of question marks in triple construction in conjunction with
short syntax illustrates her distress.
“I hope my lord esteems me honest” (Desdemona) Line 64, pg 191, Act 4 scene 2 –
Reliance on reputation for others to use in order to establish the truth. Plain diction
reinforces that Desdemona is not overly concerned about her reputation / honour
being damaged at this point.
“He called her whore. A beggar in his drink / Could not have laid such terms upon his
callet.” Line 119, page 195, Act 4, Scene 2. –
“O good Iago” (Desdemona) Line 147, page 197, Act 4, scene 2. Portrays how other
characters view Iago, illustrates Iago’s reputation.
“I have heard too much, for your words and / Performances are no kin together.”
(Roderigo) Line 181, Page 199, Act 4, Scene 2. Iago’s reputation of being ‘honest’
begins to disintegrate.
“He knows not yet of his honourable fortune” (Iago) Line 132, page 203, Act 4, Scene
Desdemona: “Your honour is most welcome.” Line 3, page 203, Act 4, scene 3.
Illustrates respect in which Lodovico and Desdemona share. Used in contrast with
how Othello speaks to Desdemona.
“Let nobody blame him; his scorn I approve” (Desdemona) Line 48, page 207, Act 4,
Scene 3. Desdemona implies that Othello’s honour should not be damaged
regardless of how she has been treated by him.
“Who would not make her / husband a cuckold to make him a monarch?” (Emilia)
Line 72, page 209, Act 4, Scene 3. Implies that Emilia would sacrifice her husbands
honour to make him admirable and of social status.
“O brave Iago, honest and just, / That hast such noble sense” (Othello) Line 31, page
221, Act 5, Scene 1. Illustrates Othello’s complete opinion of Iago.
“A very valiant fellow” (Lodovico) Line 52, page 223, Act 5, Scene 1. Shows how
Iago’s facade is perceived as honourable.
“O I am spoiled, undone by villains” (Cassio) Line 54, Page 223, Act 5, Scene 1.
“villains” shows the deterioration of the Othello’s reputation and honour.
“O damned Iago! O inhuman dog!” (Roderigo) Line 62, page 223, Act 5, Scene 1.
Exclamation marks used to show menace in Roderigo’s actions, resultant from his
anger at being betrayed by Iago. Illustrates the total deterioration of Iagos honour
among his friends.
“Light, gentlemen. I’ll bind it with my shirt.” (Iago) Line 75, page 225, Act 5, Scene 1.
Noble gesture from Iago to re-establish honourable reputation.
“Signor Gratiano? I cry you gentle pardon. / These bloody accidents must excuse my
manners / That so neglected you.” Line 94, Page 225, Act 5, Scene 1 – Iago replies
with utmost politeness, portraying great respect in order to preserve his reputation.
“Alas, good gentlemen! Alas, good Cassio” (Emilia) Line 115, page 227, Act 5, Scene
1. Alliteration illustrates the implication that the gentlemen are good-natured,
reinforcing that they have honourable reputations.
“I am no strumpet, but of life as honest” (Bianca) Line 122, Page 227, Act 5, Scene 1.
Bianca insists she is innocent, strongly resisting accusations of her ignobility in order
to retain a respectable reputation.
“That handkerchief which I so loved and gave thee, / thou gav’st to Cassio.” (Othello)
Line 46, Page 233, Act 5, Scene 2. Othello’s obsessive thoughts regarding the
handkerchief as a symbol of Desdemona’s betrayal illustrates his perception of
Desdemona’s faithfulness – portrayed as the disintegration of her reputation as
viewed by Othello.
“Honest Iago hath ta’en order for’t.” (Othello) Line 73, Page 235, Act 5, Scene 2.
Repetition of Othello’s perception of Iago’s ‘honesty’
“Down strumpet” Line 79, Page 235, Act 5, Scene 2. This illustrates Othello’s
complete lack of respect for Desdemona as he now believes she is unfaithful and
“My wife? My wife? What wife? I have no wife. / O insupportable! O heavy hour!”
(Othello) Line 98, Page 235, Act 5, Scene 2. Short, simple syntax used in conjunction
with repeating exclamation marks implies Othello’s great distress at the
disintegration of his honour. “I have no wife” illustrates how Othello had exiled
Desdemona from his life, reinforced by the literal smothering of her.
“Thou dost belie her, and thou art a devil” (Emilia) Line 133, Page 239, Act 5, Scene 2.
Emilia has lost all respect for Othello, his reputation begins to disintegrate as
consequences of his actions.
“My friend, thy husband, honest, honest Iago” (Othello) Line 53, page 241, Act 5,
Scene 2. Repetition of “honest” could imply that Othello has begun to realise his
mistake and is trying to convince himself that Iago is right about Desdemona. Syntax
and diction demonstrate controversial thoughts in Othello’s mind – Was Iago telling
the truth about Desdemona or did he fall into a clever trap?
“Ignorant as dirt! Thou as done a deed... I’ll make thee known, / Though I lost twenty
lives... Murder! Murder!” (Emilia) Line 163, Page 241, Act 5, Scene 2. Emilia is
determined to ruin Othello’s reputation and honour as a result of his actions, while
insisting nothing will stop her until Othello’s reputation is destroyed.
“O, are you come, Iago? You have done well, / That men must lay their murders on
your neck.”
(Emilia) Line 168, Page 241, Act 5, Scene 2. Emilia sarcastically congratulates Iago on
his manipulation of Othello, resulting in Emilia viewing her husband as ignoble.
“You told a lie, an odious, damned lie” (Emilia) Line 179, Page 241, Act 5, Scene 2.
Iago’s reputation begins to disintegrate. Emilia’s outburst in which she claims that
she will make sure Othello’s reputation is ruined foreshadows that Iago’s reputation
will also suffer.
“Villainous whore!” Line 226 “Filth, thou liest.” (Iago) Line 22, page 245, Act 5, Scene
2. Iago attempts to rescue his reputation by insisting Emilia is ignoble.
“Tis a notorious villain.” (Montano) Line 237, Page 247, Act 5, Scene 2. Implies that
Montano’s view of Othello’s reputation is that of many in play – illustrates that
Othello’s reputation has been completely destroyed along with his honour.
“Why anything. / An honourable murderer... / For naught did I in hate, but all in
honour.” (Othello) Line 291, Page 249, Act 5, Scene 2. Othello excuses his actions as
an act necessary to preserve his honour and reputation as a noble man.
“I pray, demand that demi-devil” (Othello) Line 298, Page 251, Act 5, Scene 2.
Othello’s realisation of Iago’s true personality results in a verbal outburst which ruins
Iago’s reputation and any trace of honour seen by other characters. Soon after, Iago
announces “From this time forth I will never speak word.” (Line 301, page 251, Act 5,
Scene 2) implying that he is lost without his reputation and honour, resulting in him
no longer able to manipulate others.
“I have done the state some service, and they know’t.” (Othello) Line 335, page 253,
Act 5, Scene 2. Othello uses past events as an attempt to rekindle his previous
reputation and honour. Suicide implies Othello’s will to preserve his honour, instead
of being held prisoner where his reputation could be tormented.
That Cassio loves her, I do well believe it: that she loves him. Act 2 Scene 1 Pg 75 Line
280,281 I-I
The Moor… Is of loving, noble nature and I dare think he’ll prove to Desdemona a
most dear husband Act 2 Scene 1 Pg 75 Line 283, 284, 285 I-I
Now I do love her too; not out of absolute lust, through Act 2 Scene 1 Pg 75 Line 285,
286 I-I
Till I am evened with him, wife for wife: Act 2 Scene 2 Pg 75 Line 293 I-I
Come my dear love, the purchase made, the fruits are to ensue; Act 2 Scene 1 Pg 79
Line 9,10 O-D
She’s a most exquisite lady Act 2 Scene 1 Pg 79 Line 18 R-I
And I’ll warrant her full of game Act 2 Scene 1 Pg 79 Line 19 I-R
What an eye she has! Act 2 Scene 1 Pg 79 Line 21 I-R
An inviting eye, Act 2 Scene 1 Pg 79 Line 21 I-R
As my young mistress dog Act 2 Scene 1 Pg 81 Line 47 I-I
Our Generals wife is now the General Act 2 Scene3 Pg 97 Line 306,307 I-C
Th’incling Desdemona to subdue in an honest suit. Act 2 Scene 3 Pg 99 Line 330, 331
Whate’er you be I am obedient. Act 3 Scene 3 Pg 119 Line 89 O-D
Excellent wretch! Act 3 Scene 3 Pg 119 Line 90 O-I
Who dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet fondly loves. Act 3 Scene 3 Pg 125 Line 169 I-O
Gender in Othello
In William Shakespeare’s Othello, the role of women and the view that society had of them
is crucial to the events that occur. Because they are seen as an undisputed lower class, a
view held by both men and women, Othello automatically assumes Desdemona’s guilt,
taking the word of a man over the woman he knows. This view also leads him to believe that
she is unworthy of having to opportunity to defend herself but that he is also entitled to kill
her, as the pride of men (he thinks) should be protected before the lives of women.
Quotes and analysis
Act 3, Scene 3
“If I do prove her haggard,/Though that her jesses were my dear heart-strings,/I’d
whistle her off, and let her down the wind/To prey at fortune” pg 131, line 258
Othello to Desdemona
This means that if Othello has what he believes to be proof that Desdemona has been
unfaithful that he will tell her to leave and survive as best that she can. The fact that he is
deciding how to punish her before even speaking to her or having any proof shows that he is
assuming her guilt. He is taking Iago’s word as truth as he is a man, and therefore, in
Othello’s mind more trustworthy that Desdemona and the vows that she made to him. This
shows Othello’s prejudice against woman, believing them to be inferior and not as loyal etc
as men.
(also, animalises D, portrays her as a pet/owned, also predatory; nb kills her later to protect other men)
“That we can call these delicate creatures ours, /and not their appetites” pg 131, line
266 Othello to Desdemona
Othello is saying that wives belong to them, but their appetite, meaning lust/sexual appetite
does not, though it should. Othello is claiming Desdemona to belong to him, like a
possession. This is objectifying Desdemona and again showing that Othello believes the fact
that he is a man means that he is above Desdemona, rather than seeing them as equals. In
saying that he believes her sexual appetite does not belong to him shows again, that he is
assuming her guilt with no proof and without giving Desdemona that chance to defend
(also, suggests Os anxiety about female sexual appetite which is beyond his control, and as such threatening to
him. A common idea explored in fem crit and seen as a widespread phenomenon. Where else do we see, in
texts and in life, a male need to control female sexuality?)
“I’d rather be a toad/and live upon a vapour of a dungeon/than keep a corner in the
thing I love/for other’s uses” pg 131, line 268 Othello to Desdemona
Othello is saying that he would rather be a toad living in a dungeon than have other men
“using” his wife.
(O would rather be imprisoned as a toad in hellish circumstances than be cuckholded. Reveals his need to
possess her utterly and entirely)
“To a have a foolish wife” pg 132, line 302 Iago to Emilia
Here, Iago says that he believes it is a “common thing” for wives and therefore woman in
general to be foolish.
(Women are intellectually inferior and in need of masculine guidance/rule)
“I nothing but to please his fantasy” pg 133, line 298 Emilia aside
Here, Emilia is showing very clearly, the role of woman in this time – to please their
husbands. Even thought Emilia is particularly intelligent and see’s the flaws of men, she
must still to her husband’s bidding as she is indoctrinated by her society and the views they
have of women as being an inferior class. However, later in the play after she finds out what
her husband (Iago) has done, she no longer does his bidding and does the right thing by
Desdemona who has been totally innocent in the whole scenario.
“Her name that was as fresh/As Dian’s visage, is now begrimed and black/as my own
face” pg139, line 384 Othello to Iago
This quote shows that Desdemona was once fresh and innocent (fresh perhaps and
innuendo for virginal) but now, after hearing Iago’s accusations of Desdemona, she has
become black in his mind. This description revolves around darkness/black and its
associated psychological archetypes of evil with hellish undertones. This is showing that
Othello believes, firstly that Desdemona is guilty and secondly that she deserves to burn in
hell forever for her actions.
(Perfect quote for reputation /honour))
“I’ll tear her all to pieces” pg 141, line 429 Othello to Iago
This shows that Othello thinks that he is entitled to kill Desdemona because he believes that
she was unfaithful. This clearly shows his arrogance and misogynistic nature that was earlier
hidden. Places him in God-like role (power over life and death).
Act 3, Scene 4
“Damn her damn her, lewd minx! Oh, damn her, damn her/Come, go with me apart, I
will withdraw/to furnish me with some swift means of death/for the fair devil. Now
art thou my lieutenant” pg145, line 475, Othello to Iago
“Fair devil” illustrates equivocation theme and exemplifies Os false perception of D, O not
only prepared to kill her but also to send to eternal damnation.
“ ‘Tis not a year or two shows us a man/They are all but stomachs, and we all but
food/They eat us hungrily and when they are full/They belch us” pg 153, line 99
Emilia to Desdemona
Emilia is saying that men are stomachs and women are the food that sustain them. This
clearly shows the place of women in society; that they are there to satisfy and sustain men
and to be cast aside for someone more satisfying once the men grow sick of them. Women
therefore, were just objects for a man’s pleasure.
Act 4, Scene 1
“I’ll chop her into messes” pg 179, line 197 Othello to Iago
“Get me some poison Iago; this night. I’ll not expostulate with her, lest her body and
beauty/unprovide my mind again” page 181, line 201 Othello to Iago
Here Othello is saying that he must kill her immediately before her beauty can change her
mind again. Suggests that she has been using her beauty as a charm to fool him into thinking
she is good. (is a threat, form of female power)
“O devil, devil!/if that the earth could teem with woman’s tears/each drop she falls
would prove a crocodile./Out of my sight!” pg 183 line 239 Othello to Desdemona
Here, after hitting Desdemona he accuses her tears of being fake, to make him look bad in
front of others. He also likens her to the devil, showing his idea that she should burn in hell
forever for the sins that he believes that she has commit, the worst punishment that he
could wish upon. This clearly shows that hatred he has for Desdemona, a woman. He then,
after hitting her and accusing her of false tears and a devil, orders her out of his sight,
believing that she should still obey his command.
“Truly an obedient lady” pg 183, line 244 Lodovico to Othello
This phrase is posed as a compliment, showing that men though it was a good thing for
women to be obedient to their husbands and men in general. This shows that men are
considered to be above women, and that women were seen as childlike as they had to do
what they were told to by their so called superiors.
Act 4, Scene 2
“This is a subtle whore/a closet lock and key of villainous secrets/and yet she will
kneel and pray. I have seen her do it” pg 187, line 20 Othello to himself
Othello is accusing Desdemona as being a “subtle whore” and therefore tricking people, and
then kneeling down to pray. He says this as though she is enchanting people and being
untrue to God, a huge insult in the historical setting and again implying that simply because
he believes that she is guilty she should go to hell.
“Your wife my lord your true and loyal wife” pg 189, line 34 Desdemona to Othello
This implies that Desdemona thinks that the best thing for her to be as a woman, is “true
and loyal” to her husband and not worthy or able of being considered a good person on her
own, without being connected to her husband.
“If I preserve this vessel for my lord.” Page 191 line 83 Desdemona to Othello
Desdemona is saying that all her and her body is, is an empty space for Othello is fill up with
babies, showing that she believes that she is worthy of nothing more than having babies and
being a loyal wife.
“I took you for that cunning whore of Venice/ that married with Othello” page 193
line 87 Othello to Desdemona
Othello is being sarcastic, but saying that Desdemona is a “cunning whore” that tricked him
into marrying her. He is insulting her to her face without explaining why, as he believes that
she is not worthy of that.
“Those that do teach young babes / do it with gentle means and easy tasks. / He
might have chid me so, for in good faith/ I am a child to chiding.” Page 195 line 110
Desdemona to Othello
Here Desdemona is saying that she is like a child, showing the opinion that she has of herself
that stems from the thoughts of the society that she lives in, but that Othello is treating her
Act 4, Scene 3
“But I do think it is their husbands fault/ if wives do fall” page 209 line 83 Emilia to
Here Emilia is saying that it is a man’s fault if their wives do wrong. This is saying that
women cannot do anything, good or bad without the help of their husbands.
Act 5, Scene 2
“Yet she must die, else shell betray more men” Page 229 line 6 Othello to himself
Othello again is showing that Desdemona should die for that actions that he only believes
that she has done. He is also saying that so she does not do this to more men that she
should die, showing that he believes that men’s pride should be protected over women’s
“... nay had she been true/ if heaven would make me such another world/ of one
entire and perfect chrysolite / I’d not have sold her for it.” Page 239 line 144 Othello
to Emilia
Here Othello is saying that if Desdemona had been true he would not have done this no
matter what he was offered in return. He is therefore blaming Desdemona for his actions
and saying that it is her fault that he murdered her, rather than taking responsibility for his
“Cold, cold my girl/ even like thy chastity” page 249 line 273 Othello to Lodovico
Here Othello is saying that Desdemona is cold (dead) after finding out that she was chaste,
juxtaposing with earlier in the play when he called her “hot” (alive), referring to her
supposed lustiness.
Deception and Equivocation
Deception is a key theme in Othello. It is a skill to be able to deceive people, which can be used
for multiple purposes, good and bad. In the quotes I have found, Iago had said the majority of
them. This helps us define his character, as we know he is extremely deceitful, and will go
through any means to help his purpose, or just to seek revenge. The handkerchief is the main
catalyst of the novel, as Iago uses it to create tension and mistrust between the characters,
especially between Othello and Desdemona. His equivocal nature means he can manipulate and
mislead people through his words, yet have them all still believe he is being honest till the very
end. Even when he is caught out and exposed as being untruthful, he denies what is being said,
or states that he just provided them advice; they did not have to listen to him. The only times
we see him as he really is, are when he gives monologues or asides to the reader. As we
progress through the text, his lies become more blatant and deceiving, until it is too late for the
characters to turn back because they are already too deep in his web of deception. Othello is
the best example of this, as Iago exploits his jealous nature to the point where he ends up
murdering Desdemona because Iago made him believe she was having an affair.
Deception and Equivocation Quotes
Act 3, Scene 3
Pg 133, line 282 – “I have a pain upon my forehead here.” – O
line 286 – “Your napkin is too little.” – O
Pg 135, line 317 – “Be not acknown on’t. I have use for it.” – I
line 323 – “The Moor already changes with my poison.” – I
Pg 139, line 373-374 - “O wretched fool, / That liv’st to make thine honesty a vice.” – I
line 376 – “To be direct and honest is not safe.” – I
line 377-378 – “I thank you for this profit, and from hence / I’ll love no friend, sith
foggy love breeds such offence.” – I
line 380-381 – “I should be wise; for honesty’s a fool, / And loses that it works for.”
Pg 141, line 403-406 – “I say, / If imputation and strong circumstances, / Which lead directly
fgfgvfgi to the door of truth, / Will give you satisfaction, you might have it.” – I
line 426 – “Nay, this was but his dream.” – I
line 428-430 – “ ‘Tis a shrewd doubt, though it but be a dream: / And this may
btrgtrg help to thicken other proofs / That do demonstrate thinly.” – I
line 430-431 – “Nay, but be wise; yet we see nothing done. / She may be honest
yet.” gdgrfgg – I
line 435-437 – “…such a handkerchief - / I am sure it was your wife’s – did I today /
dcsdfr See Cassio wipe his beard with.” – I
Pg 143, line 450-453 – “Patience, I say; your mind perhaps may change.” – I
line 463-465 – “Witness that here Iago doth give up / The execution of his wit,
hands, frdfffff heart, / To wronged Othello’s service.” – I
Pg 143-145, line 465-466 – “Let him command, / And to obey shall be in me remorse, /
What fdfrggg bloody business ever.” – I
Pg 145, line 472-473 – “My friend is dead; / ‘Tis done at your request. But let her live.” – I
line 478 – “I am your own for ever.” – I
Act 3, Scene 4
Pg 147, line 31-32 – “[Aside] O, hardness to dissemble! / How do you, Desdemona?” – O
line 34 – “This hand is moist, my lady.” – O
line 36-41 – “This argues fruitfulness, and a liberal heart. / Hot, hot and moist. This
sffafdfs hand of yours requires / A sequester form liberty, fasting, and prayer, / Much
fffeeeeicastigation, exercise devout; / For here’s a young and sweating devil here/ That
vdsiifffi commonly rebels. ‘Tis a good hand, / A frank one.” – O
Pg 149, line 44 – “A liberal hand. The hands of old gave hands; / But our new heraldry is
gtgtggt hands, not hearts.” – O
line 46-47 – “I have a salt and sorry rheum offends me. / Lend me thy handkerchief.”
gdgggg – O
line 50 – “I have it not about me.” – D
Pg 151, line 76 – “It is not lost.” – D
line 81-82 – “Why, so I can but I will not now. / This is a trick to put me from my
vfrfffgg suit.” – D
Pg 153, line 113-116 – “But to know so must be my benefit. / So shall I clothe me in some
rgregggother forced content, / And shut myself up in some other course / To fortune’s
gedgsgi alms.” – C
line 117 – “My lord is not my lord; nor should I know him.” – D
Pg 155, line 128 – “Can he be angry?” – I
Pg 157, line 165 – “I’faith, sweet love, I was coming to your house.” – C
Act 4, Scene 1
Pg 169, line 24-26 – “What / If I had said I had see him do you wrong? / Or heard him say –
gvdgtg as knaves be such abroad…” – I
line 30-31 – “He hath, my lord; but be you well assured, / No more than he’ll
ffffgdgsunswear.” – I
line 33 – “Faith, that he did – I know not what he did.” – I
line 46-48 – “Thus credulous fools are caught, / And many worthy and chaste dames,
iehgeei even thus, / All guiltless meet reproach.” – I
Pg 171, line 52 – “This is his second fit: he had one yesterday.” – I
line 74 – “…knowing what I am, I know what she shall be.” – I
Pg 173, line 85-87 – “For I will make him tell the tale anew, / Where, how, how oft, how long
grggehi ago, and when / He hath, and is again to cope your wife.” – I
line 101-104 – “Othello shall go mad; / And his unbookish jealousy must construe /
ninny Poor Cassio’s smiles, gestures, and light behaviours, / Quite in the wrong.” – I
line 107-109 – “Ply Desdemona well and you are sure on’t. / Now if this suit lay in
dfssegeBianca’s power, / How quickly should you speed. – I
Pg 175, line 126 – “I am a very villain else.” – I
Pg 179, line 172-174 – “Yours, by this hand. And to see how he prizes the / foolish woman
gdgrrrriyour wife; she gave it him, and he / hath giv’n it his whore.” – O
Pg 185, line 251-252 – “Proceed you in your tears. - / concerning this sir – O, well painted
jhnfndnipassion –“ – O
line 264 – “He is much changed.” – I
line 264-266 – “He’s that he is. I may not breathe my censure / What he might be. If
ifggdgr what he is not, / I would to heaven he were.” – I
line 268 – “Faith, that was not so well; yet would I knew / That stroke would prove
gagger the worst.” – I
line 273 – “It is not honesty in me to speak / What I have seen and known.” – I
Act 4, Scene 2
Pg 195, line 127-128 – “Beshrew him for’t! / How comes this trick upon him?” – I
line 133 – “Fie, there is no such man; it is impossible.” – I
Pg 197, line 164-167 – “I pray you be content: ‘tis but his humour. / The business of the
state gsdgrgi does him offence, / And he does chide with you.” – I
Pg 199, line 167, 170 – “It is so, I warrant. /...Go in and weep not; all things shall be well.” – I
line 183 – “You charge me most unjustly.” – I
Pg 201, line 205-207 – “Thou hast taken / against me a most just exception; but yet I protest
gihiiikk I / have dealt most directly in thy affair.” – I
line 209-210 – “I grant indeed it hath not appeared and your / suspicion is not
fnbssfvi without wit and judgement.” – I
Act 5, Scene 1
Pg 223, line 62 – “O murderous slave! O villain! [Stabs Roderigo]” – I
Pg 225, line 85-86 – “Gentlemen all, I do suspect this trash / To be a party in this injury.” – I
Pg 227, line 101-102 – “He that lies slain here, Cassio, / Was my dear friend. What malice
retread was between you?” – I
line 105-110 – “Look you pale mistress? / Do you perceive the gastness of her eye? /
Tdyhtdi Nay, if you stare, we shall hear more anon. / Behold her well; I pray you look upon
dsgdssgher. / Do you see, gentlemen? Nay, guiltiness will speak / Though tongues were out
diijtriiu use.” – I
line 116 – “This is the fruits of whoring.” – I
Act 5, Scene 2
Pg 237, line 125 – “Nobody. I myself. Farewell.” – D
Pg 239, line 128 – “You heard her say herself, it was not I.” – O
Pg 241, line 175-176 – “I told him what I thought, and told no more / Than what he found
daFiiaefhimself was apt and true.” – I
Pg 249, line 273-274 – “Cold, cold, my girl, / Even like thy chastity.” – O
Pg 251, line 300 – “Demand me nothing. What you know, you know.” – I
The importance of the handkerchief in Othello
Things are not always what they seem is a common theme within Shakespeare's Othello.
From Iago's true desires to Othello's "inner Turk", nothing is revealed between the
characters until the very end of the play.
The handkerchief that travels from character to character plays a role in revealing the true
qualities of its possessors. At the same time, the handkerchief tends to symbolize
Othello's "caring nature" as well as "chastity". Through its use and progression from
person to person, the handkerchief comes to resemble Iago's true character, Othello's
jealousy, and a direct contrast to chastity all combining to reveal the theme of things are
not what they appear to be.
From the start of the play, it was very clear to the audience that Iago was the villain of the
tragedy. However, it was unclear to Othello about Iago's true intentions and there was no
hint of how Iago would go about doing his bidding. When it was first revealed that Iago
had asked his wife to steal Othello's handkerchief, the extent of Iago's malicious nature
was seen. Knowing that Iago would incorporate Cassio in his plan to take down Othello,
the reader would predict that the handkerchief would be his means of proving that Cassio
had been with Desdemona. It is here that Iago can be identified as an evil person who
would go about destroying an innocent person's life to serve his awful purpose. Othello,
not knowing Iago had taken his handkerchief and planted it in Cassio's house, blamed
Cassio for doing him wrong. It was at this moment where the handkerchief would come to
resemble the true nature of Iago, which was to lie and deceit to fulfil his own purposes. In
the end, it is revealed to Othello that Iago had planted the handkerchief and Othello
realizes that he had taken Iago for granted - Iago was not what the honest person he
appeared to be.
Othello's realization of Iago's true character came with an alteration of his own. During the
period in which Othello began to doubt Desdemona, he learned of Desdemona giving the
handkerchief to Cassio from Iago. His angry tone when demanding the handkerchief from
Desdemona came to reveal the jealousy he had towards Cassio. The handkerchief was
apparently a prized possession that his mother had given him on her deathbed.
Desdemona's "giving away" of it resembled her carelessness towards her husband. This
was Othello's thinking and when he saw Cassio receive the handkerchief from Bianca, who
claimed it to be Cassio's, he swore revenge. The handkerchief, thus, played a huge part in
changing Othello's attitude of calm and noble to jealous and sadistic. He could not bear to
think about what had happened between his wife and Cassio. This came to give the
handkerchief its second purpose of revealing Othello's jealous nature and further
demonstrate how things are not what they appear to be.
Othello's perception of the representation of the handkerchief itself became distorted in its
meaning through the events of the play. Othello stated that the handkerchief was given to
him from his mother who had used it to get the only man she had ever loved - Othello's
father. The handkerchief would then be thought of as an object of purity and chastity
much like the wedding sheets. Othello also stated that he had given it to Desdemona as a
means of showing his love for her and it would further the idea of the handkerchief
representing purity. However, the change in Othello's attitude towards Desdemona
signified a change in the handkerchiefs meaning. It was due to the handkerchief, being
used as proof that Othello began to feel and anger and jealousy. His final actions were
killing Desdemona in the sheets that were used during their wedding day. This change in
Othello's attitude showed that their love was indeed not pure but was faulty. His killing of
her in the sheets that were considered untainted further went to show the flaws of Othello.
Since the handkerchief was a representation of the relationship between Othello and
Desdemona, in the end, it came to represent secrecy and jealousy - a big contrast from
what it was thought to be in the beginning.
The handkerchief in Othello was more than just a prop in a play. It served to reveal the
true characteristics of a number of characters and at the same time came to represent a
contrast to what it was initially thought to represent. After all of the events that occurred
in Othello, the handkerchief's major function was known to promote the theme of things
that are not what they always appear to be.
Othello – Reputation
Cassio “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! Page 95 Line 255
Reputation is vital in Othello as it is the tool Iago uses to manipulate his fellow characters. Through
his built up persona “honest Iago,” he achieves the trust of key characters such as Othello and
Cassio, allowing him to disgrace Cassio and convince Othello that Desdemona is cheating.
Iago is able to use reputation as it is extremely important to every character e.g Cassio “Reputation,
reputation, reputation! O I have lost my\ reputation. . . . “etc and Othello at the end of the play
being more concerned about how he will be viewed, rather than the fact he just killed his wife.
Iago’s own reputation provides the tool necessary for his suggestions to be headed and to be turned
to for advice. For example, Othello’s acceptance of Iago’s suggestions at Desdemona’s infidelity
proves he trusts Iago’s “honest” reputation, whereas Othello would have probably killed anyone else
for making such an absurd accusation.
Act One, Scene One
Iago “Three great ones of the city,\ In personal suit to make me his lieutenant,\Off-capped
to him and by faith of man,\ I know my price, I am worth no worse a place,” Page 3 Line 9
sees as slur on his reputation.
“Forsooth, a great arithmetician,\ One Michael Cassio, a Florentine - \ A fellow almost
damned in a fair wife - \ That never set a squadron in the field,\ Nor the division of a battle
knows \ More than a spinster, unless the bookish theoric,\ Wherein the toged consuls can
propose\ As masterly as he. Mere prattle without practice\ Is all his soldiership.,” Page 5 Line
“Preferment goes by letter and affection\ And not by old gradation, where each second \
Stood heir to the first.” Page 5 Line 19
Iago “ Zounds sir, you’re robbed; for shame put on your\ gown; \ Your heart is burst, you
have lost half your soul.\ Even now, now, very now, an old black ram\ Is tupping your white
ewe. Arise, Arise;\ Awake the snorting citizens with the bell, Or else the devil will make a
grandsire of you.” Page 7 Line 97, (slanders O & Ds rep, but also appeals to Bs sense of
public shame/rep)
“Zounds sir, you are one of those that will not serve God\ If the devil bid you. Because we
come to do you service\ and you think we are ruffians, you’ll have your daughter\ covered
with a Barabary horse; you’ll have your nephews\ neigh to you; you’ll have coursers for
cousins, and jennets\ for germans. Page 9 Line 118
Act One, Scene Two
Iago “spoke such scurvy and provoking terms\ against your honor\ That with the little
godliness I have\ I did full hard forbear him. (Roderigo) Page 15 Line 7
Othello “Let him do his spite: My services which I have done the signory, \ Shall out-tongue
his complaints. ‘Tis yet to know - \ Which, when I know that boasting is an honour,\ I shall
promulgate – I fetch my life and being\ from men of royal siege; and my demerits\ May
speak unbonneted to as proud a fortune\ As this that I have reached. “Page 15 Line 17
“I must be found.\ My parts, my title, my perfect soul\ Shall manifest me rightly.” Page 17
Line 30
Act One, Scene Three
1st Senator “The valiant Moor” Page 25 Line 48
Duke “Valiant Othello” Page 25 Line 49
Brabantio “She is abused, stolen from me, and corrupted\ By spells and medicines bought of
mountebanks;\ For nature so preposterously to err, Page 27 Line 61
“A maiden never bold;\ Of spirit and quit, that her motion\ Blushed at herself,” Page 29 Line
“A substitute/ of most allowed sufficiency, yet opinion, a more\ sovereign mistress of
effects, throws a more safer voice\ on you. Page 35 Line 223
Desdemona “I saw Othello’s visage in his mind, \ And to his honours and his valiant parts\
Did I my soul and fortunes consecrate.” Page 35 Line 251
Othello “Let housewives make a skillet of my helm,\ And all indign and base adversities\
Make head against my estimation. Page 39 Line 271
“my ancient; A man he is of honesty and trust.” Page 39 Line 283
Duke “If virtue no delighted beauty lack,\ Your son-in-law is far more fair than black. Page 41
Line 288
Brabantio “Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see\ She has deceived her father, and
may thee.” Page 41 Line 291
Othello “My life upon her faith.”
“Honest Iago” Page 41 Line 293
“The Moor is of a free and open nature,\ That thinks men honest that but seem to be so,\
and will as tenderly be led by th’nose\ As asses are. Page 47 Line 397
Act Two, Scene One
Montano “the man commands\ Like a full soldier” (Othello) Page 59 Line 35
“brave Othello,” Page 59 Line 3
Cassio “That paragons description and wild fame;\ One that excels the quirks of blazoning
pens,\ and in th’essential vesture of creation\ Does tire the ingener.” (Desdemona) Page 61
Line 62
Iago “would she give you so much of her lips\ As of her tongue she oft bestows on me,\ You
would have enough.” (Emilia) Page 63 Line 100
Othello “good Iago,” Page 71 Line 202
Iago “Love him still for prating? Let not thy discreet/ heart think it. Her eye must be fed; and
what delight\ shall she have to look on the devil?” Page 71 Line 219
“a knave very\ voluble, no further conscionable than putting on the\ mere form of civil and
humane seeming, for the better\ compassing of his salt and most hidden loss\ affection?
Why, none; why, none. A slipper and subtle\ knave, a finder of occasions; that has an eye
can stamp\ and counterfeit advantages, though true advantage\ never present itself; a
devilish knave. Besides, the\ knave is handsome, young, and hath all those\ requisites in him
that folly and green minds look after.\ A pestilent complete knave; and the woman hath\
found him already.” (Cassio) Page 73 Line 232
Roderigo “I cannot believe that in her; she’s full of most blessed condition.” (Desdemona)
Page 73 Line 244
Act Two, Scene Two
Herald “our noble and valiant\ general” (Othello) Page 77 Line 1
Act Two, Scene Three
“Iago is most honest” Page 79 Line 5
Iago “she is sport for Jove” (Desdemona)
Cassio “She’s a most exquisite lady.”
Iago “And, I’ll warren her, full of game.”.”
Iago “What an eye she has! Methinks it sounds a parley to provocation.”
Cassio “An inviting eye, and yet methinks right modest.”
Iago “And when she speaks, is it not an alarum to love?”
Iago "That hold their honours in a wary distance" Page 81 Line 53
“You see this fellow that is gone before,\ He is a soldier fit to stand by Caesar\ And give
direction. Ando but see his vice;\ ‘Tis to his virtue a just equinox,\ The one as long as the
other. ‘tis pity of him.\ I fear the trust Othello puts him in,\ On some odd time of his
infirmity\ Will shake this island.” Page 85 Line 115
Iago “God’s will, lieutenant, hold;\ You will be ashamed for ever!” Page 87Line 155
Othello “Honest Iago” Page 89 Line 170
“Worthy Montano, you were wont to be civil;\ The gravity and stillness of your youth\ The
world hath noted; and your name is great \ In mouths of wisest censure. What’s the matter\
That you unlace your reputation thus,\ and spend your rich opinion for the name\ Of a nightbrawler?” Page 89 Line 183
Montano “Worthy Othello,” Page 91 Line 190
Iago “I had rather have this tongue cut from my mouth\ Than it should do offence to
Michael Cassio.” Page 91 Line 215
Othello “ Iago,\ Thy honesty and love doth mice this matter,\ Making it light Cassio. Cassio, I
love thee;\ But nevermore be officer of mine.” Page 93 Line 239
Cassio “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!
Page 95 Line 255
Iago “As I am an honest man, I thought you had received\ some bodily wound; there is more
sense in that than in\ reputation. Reputation is an idle, and most false\ imposition; oft got
without merit, and lost without\ deserving. You have lost no reputation at all, unless\ you
repute yourself such a loser. What man, there are\ ways to recover the general again.” Page
95 Line 259
“honest Iago.” Page 99Line 325
Othello Shakespeare Study
Deception & Equivocation Quotes & Notes
From beginning to page 131
Most grave Brabantio
In simple and pure soul I come to you
Though in the trade of war I have slain men,
Yet do I hold it very o’th’conscience
To do no contrived murder: I lack the iniquity
Sometime to do me service. Nine or ten times
I had thought t’have yerked him here under the ribs
Nay but he prated
And spoke such scurvy and provoking terms
Against your honour,
That with the little godliness I have
I did full hard forbear him.
The Turkish preparation makes for Rhodes…
So was ... course, bearing with frank appearance
Their purposes toward Cyprus
Look to her Moor, if thou hast eyes to see
She has deceived her father, and may thee
…I confess me knit to thy deserving with
Cables of perdurable toughness. I could never better
Stead thee than now
…It cannot be
That Desdemona should long continue her love to the
…and thou shalt see and answerable sequestration…
…she must change for youth…
…My cause is hearted…
To Desdemona tonight have caroused
I fear the trust Othello puts in him
I do love Cassio well and would do much
To cure him of this ev
I do not know. Friends all but now, even now,
In quarter, and in terms like bride and groom’
Devesting them for bed, and then but now,
As if some planet had unwitted men,
Swords out, and tilting one at others’ breasts
In opposition bloody. I cannot speak
Any beginnings to this peevish odds;
And would in action glorious I had lost
Those legs that brought me to a part of it
I had rather have this tongue cut from my mouth
That it should do offence to Michael Cassio
Yet I persuade myself, to speak the truth
Shall nothing wrong him…
As I am an honest man…
I protest, in the sincerity of love and honest kindness
Could heartily wish this had not so befallen; but since
It is as it is, mend it for your own good
…When this advice I give is free and honest…
Cassio, my Lord? No, sure, I cannot think it,
That he would sneak away so guilty-like,
Seeing you coming.
Men should be what they seem
Or those that be not would they might seem another
I am glad of this; for now I shall have reason
To show the love and duty that I bear you
With franker spirit.
I would not have had your free and noble nature,
Out of self-bounty, be abused.
She that so young could give out such a seeming,
To seel her father’s eyes up close as oakHe though ‘twas witchcraft-but I am much to blame;
I humbly do beseech you of your pardon
For too much loving you
But pardon me, I do not I’m position
Distinctly speak of her, though I may fear
Her will, recoiling to her better judgement,
May fall to match you with country forms
And happily repent
Deception as a Key Theme
Importance & Effect
According to dictionary.com, to deceive means to
1. To mislead by a false appearance or statement; delude.
2. To be unfaithful to (one's spouse or lover).
3. To mislead or falsely persuade others; practice deceit: an engaging manner that easily deceives.
Othello contains all aspects of the definition of deception. Misleading and false appearances are brought about by Iago through his
duplicity. While everyone thought of him as ‘Honest Iago’ he set out to corrupt Othello and anyone else that got in his way. Othello believes
that Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio, which brings in the concept of unfaithfulness to a partner and is lead to this conclusion by
Iago who ‘falsely persuades’ him.
Without the key theme of deception, Othello would have no substance. The play is based around the deception of Iago and his duplicity.
The use of deception allows Iago to manipulate Othello into thinking Desdemona is committing adultery, making Othello incredibly jealous
and sending him into a rage corrupting and destroying everything he had as this happens.
The use of deception has difference degrees of severity. In the beginning of the text, Desdemona uses deception to cover up to her father,
the relationship between her and Othello in order to spare his heart. This could be considered minor in severity, but is still classed as
deception. On the side of the scale, a severe case is when Iago suggests to Othello that he should watch the body language of Cassio
when they are speaking about Bianca and see if it backs up the theory of adultery of Desdemona and Cassio. In the middle of the scale is
Iago lying to Othello telling him that Roderigo has just bad mouthed him. All the different scenarios have different levels off severity of
deception, although still follow the definition.
Othello – Setting
The setting of Othello is in Venice for Act one and moves to Cyprus for acts
Act 1, Scene 1.
This scene takes place in the streets of Venice, and moves to outside Brabantio’s house.
Act 1, Scene 2.
This scene takes place in another street in Venice.
Act 1, Scene 3.
This act takes place in a council chamber.
Act 2, Scene 1.
This scene takes place in a Sea-Port in Cyprus, an open place near the quay.
Act 2, Scene 2.
This scene takes place in a street of Cyprus.
Act 2, Scene 3.
This scene takes place in a hall in the castle.
Act 3, Scene 1.
This scene takes place before the castle.
Act 3, Scene 2.
This scene takes place in a room in the castle.
Early modern (c. 1500-1750) Venice is prosperous Italian city and a symbol of law and civilisation. It’s also full
of white people, which makes Othello, a black moor, stand out among the Venetians. Venice also happens to
be renowned for its courtesans (prostitutes). When the English thought about Venice, the often imagined it to
be a city full of promiscuous woman. That’s quite a coincidence, given that Othello’s plot hinges on Othello’s
suspicions about his wife’s fidelity.
Eventually, action moves to a military encampment in Cyprus, an island sacred to Venus, the goddess of love.
On the island of love, away from civilisation and rationality, all hell breaks loose and Iago is able to convince
Othello that Desdemona has been cheating on him. At this military camp, Desdemona has lost any kind of
support system she may have had in her hometown of Venice, so she’s vulnerable to the kind of violence
associated with the world of men and military.
Shakespeare purposely moved the setting of the play from peaceful Venice, to military based Cyprus, when the
bad things started to unfold. This change of setting puts the behaviour of most of the characters in its
appropriate place, for example the manipulating Iago and the violent Othello do not belong in peaceful,
religious Venice. The change of setting also helps emphasis the behaviour of the characters in this text.