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 'red strawberries' , which Othello states were hand stitched, symbolises the blood of loss of virginity, so Othello perceives that Desdemona is chaste if she is in possession of the handkerchief. Once she loses it, she loses her chastity. With regards to plot, the handkerchief provides the sole ocular proof of Desdemona's unfaithfulnes, which infact triggers Othello's madness. The fact that Othello insists on gathering proof suggests that he is somewhat hopeful, 'I'll have some proof.' It is worth noticing Desdemona's mistake in Act 3 Scene 4 when Othello demands to see the handkerchief, as she lies and says, 'It is not lost'. This further convinces Othello of her infidelity. Moreover, it makes Emilia aware of Othello's jealous nature and she tries, unsuccessfully to warn Desdmona about her husband's insecurity, 'They are never jealous for the cause,/ But jealous for they're jealous.; Iago further drives Othello into his raging madness by continously mentioning the handkerchief. The impact this leaves on him is evident in his repition of handkercief when Othello falls in a trance, 'Handkerchief-confessions-handkerchief? ' When Bianca walks in on Cassio and Iago's conversation, which Othello is spying on, she is holding the handkerchief, which thus causes Othello's ravenous thirst for revenge. Thus, it plays an important part in leading to the tragedy of the Moor and to Desdemona;s death. In Act 5 Emilia revelas that she stole the
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However strong Othello's and Desdemona's marriage seems, it begins to deteriorate as a result of Othello's self-pride. At first, Iago convinces Othello that Desdemona is unfaithful. Iago suggests to Othello that Desdemona slept with Cassio. Iago uses a handkerchief given by Othello to Desdemona that he got Emilia to get for him as his proof against
In Shakespeare’s play Othello, one of the main character’s Desdemona possesses the most essential symbol and object in the play, a handkerchief. The handkerchief appears in Act III of the play and is a particularly important part in the plot of the play. It helps weave the entire story together. The handkerchief symbolizes Othello’s love and trust to Desdemona and Desdemona’s marital fidelity to Othello.
She tells him a flat out lie, but again, with good intentions. Desdemona loves Othello and did not want him to get angry. She thought she had just misplaced the handkerchief, and that she would soon find it, but if she told Othello she had lost it, he would become furious.
Othello’s mom gave Othello the handkerchief, and told him to give it to his wife if he should be married. This quote indicates that the handkerchief was then given to Desdemona as a precious valuable item and losing it would be a catastrophe like no other. Lynda Boose argues that “[t]he handkerchief that will become to Othello evidence of her lust [where instead it] has always been evidence of exactly the opposite nature” (Boose 270). This indicates that the handkerchief was a sign of her love but will transform into a sign of her adultery.
Emilia contributes greatly to the dramatic action of the play. In the rising action she unwittingly gives her husband the very object that will seal Desdemona’s fate. The handkerchief she hands to Iago becomes the material evidence that convinces Othello of Desdemona’s guilt. There are a couple of opportunities where Emilia is in a position to alter the tragic outcome. In Act III, scene iv Desdemona asks Emilia if she know where she lost her handkerchief. Emilia states, “ I know not, madam.” (III.iv.23). Again, later in the scene Emilia misses another opportunity to foil Iago’s plan. Emilia sees how upset Othello gets about Desdemona not being able to produce the handkerchief yet she does not come forth. Instead, she blames it on men and marriage; “ Tis not a year or two shows us a man. They are all but stomachs, and we all but food…” (III.iv.103-104). She does not see the connection between the jealous husband and the handkerchief. This dramatic device of having the character being naïve to information about which the audience is aware builds tension. The audience knows of Iago’s plan to use the handkerchief
Despite her loyalty to Desdemona, Emilia chooses to impress her husband over her mistress not knowing Iago’s master plan. Emilia uses hyperbole to emphasize the amount of times her husband has asked her for this very symbolic handkerchief. Not expecting much harm, she gives the precious handkerchief to Iago who then helps Othello confirm that Desdemona is unfaithful. The lady in waiting takes into consideration the meaning and value of the handkerchief and how “wayward” her husband is but she still trusts Iago. Emilia finally finds out that Iago is the evil mastermind to the death of Desdemona when she finds out her husband framed Cassio and Desdemona’s relationship. Emilia explains to Othello the truth about the handkerchief “ that handkerchief thou speak’st of I found by fortune and did give my husband… he begged of me to steal’t ”(5.2.222-226). Emilia realizes her blindness to Iago's desperate want of the handkerchief costing her mistress's’ life. After Emilia reveals the truth to everyone, Iago stabs his wife and flees. Emilia dies an innocent death due to her blindness to her husband's true nature as she was deceived and manipulated in Iago's plan of revenge.
How can one small piece of fabric manifest so much havoc? In William Shakespeare’s Othello, there is great significance of a powerful symbol that completely alters the fate of the story. “In the case of the handkerchief, it stands for several things, things that cannot be seen” (Hacht 663). This symbol, the handkerchief, is given to Desdemona by Othello, as a token of his love, and to their new beginnings as husband and wife. However, the meaning of the handkerchief is viewed differently in various characters perspectives. Reaching the hands of most of the characters, this item results in a sense of irony. What was anticipated to be the start of a new beginning, ultimately turns that vision into an abrupt end.
Iago quickly started feeding Othello lies about Cassio and Desdemona being together when Iago did not get the position of Lieutenant. Othello starts calling Desdemona a whore and questioning if she is just with him (IV, ii, 94-99). Othello never asked Desdemona or talked to her about the allegations he just assumed what Iago said must be true. Othello starts getting mad without even knowing the truth.Othello didn’t once bring up where her handkerchief was, he only listened the the lies Iago told him up until the night he planned to kill her. He finally said to Desdemona “the handkerchief which I lored, and gave thee, thou gave to Cassio” (V, ii, 58-59). He had already made up his mind that Cassio and Desdemona needed to be killed. If he would have had reason and asked Desdemona about the allegations before tensions rose, she might not have been killed from Othello's anger. Desdemona was very in love with Othello but he was overly jealous and full of anger to even think reasonably to ask Desdemona about
Her silence causes Othello to become in rage with his wife this leads us to believe that Emilia is a liar. Although Emilia doesn’t intentionally lie to Desdemona she fails to tell her that she took the handkerchief as a token to win praise from Iago. This causes conflict between Desdemona and Othello just as it is the reason for Othello’s jealousy.
together, and even consummated the marriage through sex, but their views of love differ. Let me explain the opposition of how the audience may view the handkerchief as Symbols and also how the symbols have different meaning between the characters in the play. What did the handkerchief mean to both Othello and Desdemona. Was the handkerchief a symbol of Christianity or paganism of magic. How did the handkerchief effect the moral nature of others as it passes between characters.
Coupled with Emilia’s obedience to Iago, his ploy can finally convince Othello of Desdemona’s unfaithfulness. Emilia does not agree with her husband, Iago very much, but she does obey him when she has the opportunity to do so. However, Emilia picks up Desdemona’s handkerchief, with no thought, only that it will please her husband, “what he will do with it /heaven knows, not I; /I nothing but please his fantasy,” (OTH.III.III.297-289). Subsequently, this handkerchief may not have much meaning to Emilia at this moment, but once she finally discovers the truth about her husband, she immediately accuses her husband of being a villain, and dies by his hands. Correspondingly, Emilia is also loyal to her husband, to such an extent as to lie to Desdemona about where her handkerchief has gone. As Desdemona worryingly searches for her handkerchief, Emilia denies knowing where she could have lost it, and suggests a different reason for Othello’s uneasiness, “I know no madam… /Is he not jealous?” (OTH.III.IV.14, 20). Emilia knows where the handkerchief has gone, but remains silent because her husband, Iago has told her to. As a result of Emilia’s loyalty Iago does not need to worry about others discovering where Othello’s handkerchief
The second event to this process of tragedy is when Iago uses the handkerchief that he had his wife take to create “proof” that Desdemona was cheating on Othello with Cassio. Already ridden with jealousy, Othello demands Iago that he must have “ocular proof” to Desdemona's “deception.” In line with his devilish plan, Iago tells Othello that, “but such a handkerchief—I am sure it was your wife's—did I today see Cassio wipe his beard with” (Shakespeare 1330), knowing full well that the handkerchief was a precious symbol of love between the moor and Desdemona, although he pretended to be oblivious. His plan once again works its “poison” upon Othello as the moor says, “now do I see
Furthermore, she realizes that she has played an unintentional part in the tragedy by following Iago’s request to steal Desdemona’s handkerchief. It has all been a plot by Iago to destroy Othello, and this is finally revealed to everyone, including Emilia (Kennedy and Gioia, V. II. 179-182, 187-189). To see Emilia come to full awareness is to see first the emotional breakdown caused by this revelation, and then to see it begin to build, as she shows heartbreak, guilt, awareness of betrayal, and recognition of supreme cruelty on the part of someone she has trusted with her life. She finally speaks with the words, “Villainy, villainy, villainy!” (Kennedy and Gioia, V. II. 197), knowing she has to persuade everyone of Desdemona’s innocence. Recognition again occurs in Act V Scene II when Emilia hears Othello mention the handkerchief, after he has killed Desdemona: "With that recognizance and pledge of love / Which I first gave her. I saw it in his hand; / It was a handkerchief, an antique token / My father gave my mother" (Kennedy and Gioia, V. II. 221-224). At the same time, the attending visitors and soldiers, who have been called into action by Emilia’s cries in Act V, Scene II, are also realizing the truth of these terrible events. The reversal occurs as Emilia discloses that it was she who stole Desdemona’s handkerchief, “She give it Cassio? No, alas, I found it, / And I did give’t my husband” (Kennedy and Gioia, V. II 236-237). Immediately Othello knows that
In addition, Iago equally deceives Othello, who believes that ‘honest Iago’ is his friend. Othello’s first gift to his wife, Desdemona, was a beautifully embroidered handkerchief, which was supposedly given to his mother by an enchantress, who told his mother that as long as she kept that handkerchief, Othello’s father would remain faithful and loving. But as soon as she
Iago is the manipulative villain in the play and cause Othello to be jealous. “I hate the Moor, And it is thought abroad that ‘twixt my sheets he has done my office. I know not if’t be true, But I, for mere suspicion in that kind, will do as if for surety” (1.3 430-433). Iago reveals his motivation to destroy Othello as there’s a rumor that Othello is sleeping with his wife, Emilia. This rumor caused only more hatred towards Othello. Later on, Iago had malicious plan which involved to create an illusion of Desdemona and Cassio sleeping with one another. Also, he used the handkerchief as a way to show affair of Desdemona and Cassio’s relationship. “Trifles light as air. Are to the jealous confirmations strong. As proofs of holy writ. This may do something” (3.3.370-372).Handkerchief symbolizes the love of Desdemona and Othello. It shows how much they care for one another. Iago realizes the significance of the handkerchief and takes advantage of it. Iago saying that the handkerchief is in Cassio’s possession shows that Desdemona is faithless. Losing the handkerchief was the push that drove Othello to become a violent and vengeful