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Othello Act 4 Scene 3

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Mark Henderson

on 11 December 2013

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Transcript of Othello Act 4 Scene 3

Othello Act 4 Scene 3
designed by Péter Puklus for Prezi
Summary of Lines 1-22
After dinner, Othello, Lodovico, Desdemona, and Emilia are walking to Desdemona's bedchamber
Upon arrival, Othello offers to continue walking with Lodovico
Othello tells Desdemona to get ready for bed and to dismiss Emilia as he will be back shortly
Emilia and Desdemona begin discussing about Othello
Lines 23-51
- Desdemona has a vague premonition of death and tells Emilia, "If i die before thee, prithee should me / in one of those same sheets." (23-25).
The Infamous Willow Song
- Desdemona tells the story of her mother's maid Barbary and her sad fate lines 27-30
Summary of lines 76-103
Tension between Desdemona and Emilia's morals.
Emilia rants about women's rights.
Realism evident in Emilia.
Idealism evident in Desdemona.
Shakespeare's modern day view on women and feminism.
Characterization of Emilia
"The ills we do, their ills instruct us so."
Feministic by equalizing men and women.
Men and women have the same desires, so its a mans fault if a woman cheats.
Years ahead of her time.
Rebellious of the social norm at the time.
"What do we learn from Emilia's ideas on fidelity?"
Emilia justifies the action of infidelity because if a man can do it, then so can a woman.
She would even cheat on Iago for a high price.
Mary Wollstonecraft
Mary Wollstonecraft was an 18th century feminist who although much more extreme than Emilia, shared similar opinions on men.
“...men endeavor to sink us still lower, merely to render us alluring objects for a moment; and women, intoxicated by the adoration which men, under the influence of their senses, pay them, do not seek to obtain a durable interest in their hearts, or to become the friends of the fellow creatures who find amusement in their society.”
This quote by Wollstonecraft and Emilia’s speech emphasize how women were not up to par with men.
Social Issue

Historically inequality between men and women was a big issue.
Continues to this day.
According to Stats Canada, women have always been making less money (on average $30,000 yearly compared to men’s $47,000) and are more unemployed in Canada, despite being the greater population.
Emilia's speech shows how Shakespeare's understanding of women was well ahead of his time.
Literary Device
- this is foreshadowing as we know that Othello is planning some revenge (a major theme) on Desdemona
Dramatic Purpose
- also can be dramatic irony, as the audience knows Othello's feelings but Desdemona does not
Do you think that Othello's jealousy could have been avoided if it was any other person? What would you do if you were in his situation?
Reflection Question
Jealousy: The Biological Imperative
- The song is a parallel to Desdemona, as the analogy between her and Barbary's situation are identical; this is also an allusion to show context outside of the play
Literary Devices
- Desdemona shows that she took responsibility of her choices, no maternal influence
In-Depth Look
- "Barbary" means "foreigner"
- Desdemona married a foreigner (refer to his name the Moor) whom some called a barbarian (uncivilized)
- Both Barbary and Desdemona are associated with strangers, was uncommon at the time
- Iago describes Desdemona's marriage as, "an erring barbarian and a super-subtle Venetian." (1.3, 355-356)
Why Othello, Why?!
- In an indirect way, Desdemona faces the possibility that Othello has gone mad, will desert her and she will die of a broken heart
- In song, male lover is false, which causes the woman's weeping which relates to Othello's odd behavior reflecting to Desdemona
- Desdemona's love is so strong that she approves Othello's frowns, she's very passive and submissive, just as the "poor soul" (39) in the song approves her lover's "scorn" (50)
- The dramatic purpose of CATHARSIS and PATHOS is shown as we pity Desdemona and what Othello does to her
Dramatic Purpose
- the willow tree has been a constant symbol for women abandoned by their lovers for many centuries
Barbary drowned herself by a willow tree, singing the song
Desdemona - The Female "Norm"
- Desdemona is very passive towards the despair and grief represented in line 23-25, but this was very common for women of this time period who were abandoned by their lovers
- During the 1500's and 1600's, almost the entire region of Europe was a
culture (hatred for women)
- Renaissance; women lost even more of their little economic power as men had increasingly went out of town for all-male professions
Social Issue
- This can explain how Shakespeare was far ahead of his time, including the racial diversity as well as increasing importance of women in his plays
- Be yourself, everyone else is already taken!
Artemisia Gentileschi (Italian artist, 1593–1652) Jael and Sisera c 1620

Artemisia painted pictures of strong, suffering women from myth & the Bible - victims, suicides, warriors. She was especially drawn to the biblical stories of Judith beheading Holofernes story & to the sexual assault of Susanna.

ROM Trip: Relevance?
- At the ROM, we learned about the discrimination of women at the time that Othello is set and written
- The famous salons we saw were the places that women went to have intellectual debates and lectures
- Since this book is set in that time period, Desdemona would have nowhere to voice her opinion, meaning her passiveness was a trait that was required "the norm"
Did You Know?
- In 1660, Othello was performed with the first woman to ever go on an English stage, Margaret Hughes. Female roles were usually played by men.
Shakespeare, O Shakespeare
- In Hamlet, 3 years before Othello is set:
Ophelia drowns surrounded by willows and flowers
"There is a willow grows aslant a brook." (Hamlet IV. 7, 166).
Ophelia's love, Prince Hamlet, appeared mad and rejected her
She lost her mind and died singing as she drowned
The end of the novel (Othello) has a picture of a willow tree, symbol of death
Desdemona sings the Willow Song before she dies; dramatic irony
Literary Device
Dramatic Purpose
Literary Connection: Play
Literary Connection: Essay
Othello - The Tragic Hero
Establish Setting
Dramatic Purposes
Allows Desdemona and Emilia to speak privately
Usually the maid would stay with her mistress until her husband was ready for bed
An exceptional being
: -Othello is of noble stature, brave, loyal
Aristotle's definition:
His nature is also exceptional:
-Kind to all
- Tries to solve conflicts (stopping fights)
Marked one-sidedness:
-His obsessive love for Desdemona
His tragic trait is fatal:
-Othello's obsession for Desdemona leads to him becoming overly jealous. Results in death of himself, Desdemona, and many others
No conscious breach of right:
-Othello truly believes his actions are just
Teaches a lesson about human nature
: -We become vividly conscious of the possibilities of human nature. Fatality caused by jealousy
Impression of waste:
- Othello had the potential to become an even greater leader than he already was. All of his possibilities have gone to waste
Dramatic Purposes
Change of Desdemona's view of Othello:
Desdemona begins telling Emilia to she must get ready for bed almost immediately
Used to be equal; now Othello is superior. Desdemona says, "He hath commanded me to go to bed"
Change of Othello:
Desdemona says, "We must not now displease him"
She is afraid Othello will be angry; change of character since Othello was never an angry person, and especially wouldn't get angry at Desdemona over this
Mistake of getting married:
Othello and Desdemona were seen as the perfect couple. Othello was a good husband; The Duke said in regards to Othello's story, "I think this tale would win my daughter too" (1.3.170)
However, Emilia says, "I would you had never seen him"
Yes, a dozen, and as many to th' vantage as would store the world they played for.
But I do think it is their husbands' faults
If wives do fall. Say that they slack their duties
And pour our treasures into foreign laps,
Or else break out in peevish jealousies,
Throwing restraint upon us. Or say they strike us,
Or scant our former having in despite.
Why, we have galls, and though we have some grace,
Yet have we some revenge. Let husbands know
Their wives have sense like them. They see and smell
And have their palates both for sweet and sour,
As husbands have. What is it that they do
When they change us for others? Is it sport?
I think it is. And doth affection breed it?
I think it doth. Is ’t frailty that thus errs?
It is so too. And have not we affections,
Desires for sport, and frailty, as men have?
Then let them use us well, else let them know,
The ills we do, their ills instruct us so.
Emilia's Speech
Connotation for sex
Gustatory Imagery
Connotation for the bad things men do.
Answer to #10 from Act 4 Q's
Dramatic Purpose
The reason for Emilia’s speech, is not only to explain to Desdemona the equality of men and women, but also to widen the gap between Desdemona’s idealism and Emilia’s realism.
Realism is the behaviour of simply the way things are.
Idealism is the behaviour of how things should be.
Contrast used to emphasize Desdemona's innocence.
Realism used by Emilia to make her seem unladylike and the complete opposite of Desdemona.
4. It may present a dramatic contrast in Character or mood.
6. It may foreshadowcoming events.
Idealism vs. Realism
Desdemona even in the roughest of times, still is optimistic
Doesn't believe women will cheat on their husbands.
Emilia accept things the way they are
Explains how men and women are equal, and women will cheat on their wives if they desire to.
What's the purpose of Idealism vs. Realism?
Enhances difference between Desdemona and Emilia.
Develops sense that Desdemona is even more innocent.
Aristotle's definition of tragedy states that their "should be the impression of waste."
With an even better understanding of innocence with Desdemona, her murder develops a huge sense of waste.
The hightening of her personality, means she will have an even greater downfall, therefore creating an even better tragedy.
Creates a better tragedy
Thanks For Listening !
Relationship Changing
Foreshadows upcoming events
Women during the Renaissance
The Taming of the Shrew
by William Shakespeare

"Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
Thy head, thy sovereign . . . (5.2.146-147)
Such duty as the subject owes the prince,
Even such a woman oweth to her husband..." (5.2.156-157)
During this time period, one of the many expectations for women was to obey their husbands
In Relation to the Change of Othello
Othello was unlike many men of that time period
He treated women with respect and as equals like Desdemona
However, this changed due to his tragic flaw, jealousy
Othello became like the other men of the society
This was against one of the qualities that made him exceptional
Began to become demanding, sees Desdemona almost as a servant
Question #8
How does Desdemona interpret Othello's command to, "Get thee to bed at once..."?
Interprets it as a demand from Othello which she must obey
Says to Emilia, "He hath commanded me to go to bed"
She feels she has been commanded to do so and must follow his order
Historical & Social Issue
Desdemona is devoted to Othello
She is still in love with Othello no matter what.
She says, "So would not I: my love doth so approve him that even his stubbornness, his checks, and his frowns have grace and favour in them"
(Idealistic Perspective)
(Realistic Perspective)
Desdemona still believes that Othello's love for her is still there
Strong belief that Othello still loves her despite all of the obvious signs that he no longer does. Eg. the way he treats her (commanding)
Emilia's Realism: "I would you had never seen him"
She sees the danger that has come up from their relationship but Desdemona does not
LINES 52 - 77
Directly follows the Willow song segment
Emilia prepares her mistress for bed
Desdemona and Emilia speak about adultery
Desdemona is disgusted by just the thought
Emilia foils Desdemona's pure expectations through common sense
Quote Analysis
I called my love false love but what said he then?
Sing willow, willow, willow.
If I court more women you'll couch with more men -
So, get thee gone, good night.
Mine eyes do itch, Doth that bode weeping?

'Tis neither here nor there. (IV.iii.53-58)

recalls gloomy, pensive mood
Comic Relief
contrasts mood of song, relieving accumulated tension
alludes to Othello's plan to kill her
Dramatic Irony
we know Othello plans to kill her, but her foresight is dismissed with commonsense
Idealistic Prompts
"That there be women do abuse their husbands
In such gross kind?"
"Wouldst thou do such a deed for all the world?"
"Beshrew me, if I would do such a wrong
For the world."
Her idealism and innocence conveys her ideas on fidelity
expectation: life of everlasting love and happiness
reality: murdered by jealous husband
Foil and Rationalization
Emilia contrasts Desdemona's purity and innocence with coarse commonsense
Rationalizes each of Desdemona's opinions on adultery
"Why, would not you?" (IV.iii.63)
"The world's a huge thing; it is a great price
For a small vice." (IV.iii.67-68)
(literary device)
"In troth, I think I should, and undo't when I had done it. Marry, I would not do such a thing for a joint-ring, nor for measures of lawn, nor for gowns, petticoats, nor caps, nor any petty exhibition. But for all the whole world! Ud's pity, who would not make her husband a cuckold, to make him a monarch? I should venture purgatory for't." (IV.iii.69-75)
Contributes to the:
Theme of Idealism
Desdemona's Characterization
Further Characterization of Desdemona
innocent and naive
faithful and loyal
Heightening our understanding of Desdemona's love for Othello
her father's love
her fortune
her reputation in society
Ultimately her life is sacrificed because she loves Othello.
Develops Theme of Suspense
Fashioning Femininity and English Renaissance Drama
by Karen Newman
She wrote that women were "objects of male desire and dependent on that desire for their status, livelihood even their lives"
Means that women were objects meant for possession
All these qualities and aspects of her character and relationship make her downfall tragic to the audience
through the development of pathos
audience sympathizes with Desdemona
Pity and unjust persecution keeps us at edge, cliff-hanged
"What Makes Us Jealous?" by Henry Velez
Conveyed by Desdemona's characterization, our understanding of Desdemona's love for Othello is better understood
actual love rather than compulsory love
Desdemona exemplifies actual love
makes those sacrifices for Othello, at her own will
idealistic about their relationship
innocent and loyal, even when oppressed
Contrary to Brabantio's accusations
Her love is one of the few prominent emotions free of manipulation
recall Roderigo's lust and Othello's jealous

"The Romantic idealism that Othello and Desdemona share"
Othello: New Critical Essays by Philip C. Kolin
"The idealism and all-consuming nature of her love "
Dominated Daughters by Diane Elizabeth Dreher
Full transcript