The Handkerchief In Othello Essay Iago

At first glance, Shakespeare’s Desdemona may seem like woman remarkable for her beauty and not much else. In fact, Desdemona is a foil and a catalyst who wields power over men who desire her. The male characters in Othello want to control Desdemona because possession of a woman like Desdemona gives them status and a sense of power; she drives them to commit acts of rage, pride, and jealousy. This is best illustrated by Desdemona’s relationships with Othello, Brabantio, and Iago. It is also symbolized by Desdemona’s handkerchief, which comes to represent both desire and conflict.

Desdemona’s father, Brabantio, treats her as an object through which he defines himself. He is a Venetian senator and favors Othello, the Moorish general of the Venetian forces. But when his daughter, Desdemona, decides to marry Othello, he is outraged. Iago, Othello’s ensign, says “an old black ram / Is tupping your white ewe” (1.1.85-86)”. Out of rage, Brabantio tries to stop the marriage from happening, blames Desdemona’s decision on Othello’s alleged use of witchcraft, and even goes to plea to the duke to stop the marriage, but realizes there is nothing he can do. He tells the duke Desdemona is dead to him and that she “Blushed at herself; and she-...

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The Significance of the Handkerchief in Othello by Shakespeare

566 Words3 Pages

The handkerchief is significant to the plot, mainly to Iago's manipulation of Othello and his convincing the latter of Desdemona's infidelity. Moreover, it sheds light over Iago, Desdemona, Othello and Emilia's characters, and is thus important to characterisation. The symbolic significance attached to the handkerchief reveals Othello's social background, his treatment of Desdemona and the latter's feelings towards her husband. Interestingly, Othello provides two sides of the story of how he got the handkerchief. In his second account he says that his father gave the handkerchief to his mother as a sign of love when beforehand he states that it was actually an Egyptian woman who provided it to his mother. This interpretation reveals…show more content…

The handkerchief is significant to the plot, mainly to Iago's manipulation of Othello and his convincing the latter of Desdemona's infidelity. Moreover, it sheds light over Iago, Desdemona, Othello and Emilia's characters, and is thus important to characterisation. The symbolic significance attached to the handkerchief reveals Othello's social background, his treatment of Desdemona and the latter's feelings towards her husband. Interestingly, Othello provides two sides of the story of how he got the handkerchief. In his second account he says that his father gave the handkerchief to his mother as a sign of love when beforehand he states that it was actually an Egyptian woman who provided it to his mother. This interpretation reveals Othello's superstitious nature and his believe in magic, casting him as an outsider to the Venetian society. His exotic background almost makes the audience doubt whether Othello's elopment with Desdemona was truly based on love and makes one reflect on Brabantio's accusations of his daughter being taken away by 'spells and medicines bought of Mountbanks.' Desdemona attaches great value to the handkerchief since it stands as a symbol of Othello's love for her and she communicated with it and substitutes it as if it is Othello. Despite the fact that this act displays her love for Othello, it unfurls a certain immaturirty and childishness on her behalf. Othello mirrors Desdemona's attitude towards the handkerchief, giving it the utmost

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