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Symbols and Motifs in Othello

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on 15 October 2014

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Transcript of Symbols and Motifs in Othello

it's all Iago. Iago poisons the minds of Roderigo, Emilia, and most importantly, Othello.
Eyes and Vision,
Perception and Truth
“Look on the tragic loading of this bed. / This is
thy work. The object poisons sight. / Let it be hid”
Iago's garden metaphor (I.iii.361-75)
Wait... aren't symbols and motifs the same thing??
Symbols and Motifs in

The Bed
“Ere I would say I would drown myself
for the love of a guinea-hen, I would change
my humanity with a baboon” (I.iii.356–58).
Hannah Johnson
Katy Duncan

: images, ideas, sounds, or words that represent something else and help us to understand an idea or a thing.
: images, ideas, sounds, or words that help explain literary work's central idea (like a theme).
Smart Remarks?

"Though other things grow fair against the
sun, / Yet fruits that blossom first will first be ripe."
“And then, sir, would he gripe and wring my hand, /
Cry ‘O sweet creature!’, then kiss me hard, / As if he
plucked kisses up by the roots, / That grew upon my
lips” (III.iii.425–428)
Iago warned against letting "seeds" grow unkempt in our gardens
Othello's jealousy, rage, and destruction of
himself and others was just because Iago
started a rumor
Iago's insults to Othello: "Barbary horse," "old
black ram," "making the beast with two backs."
“Exchange me for a goat / When I shall turn the
business of my soul / To such exsufflicate and
blown surmises” (III.iii.211–13)
Not only degrading to Othello- dehumanizes,
makes him an easier target
Thematic purpose: nature vs. society.
"I saw Othello's visage in his mind, / And to his
honors and his valiant parts/ Did I my soul and fortunes consecrate." (I.iii.286-89)
First of all, does anyone remember any significances of the handkerchief we talked about during class discussion?
The handkerchief symbolized a variety of things to all of the characters, but its overarching importance to the characters was as PROOF, whether that be false or genuine.
Des. and Othello end up dead on a bed, and Emilia lies, also dead, between them
- like she was when they were all living: in situations and places perhaps where she needn't have been
- Emilia was always "in the middle of" Othello's and Des.'s relationship
Relationship = based in the bed: thus ended in the bed
first, Des.'s love for him, but as Iago's manipulation begins to sink into Othello's mind, represents Des.'s unfaithfulness to him
as it was a gift from Othello) Othello's love of her and his undying trust in her and in their marriage
first, her devotion to her husband (or at least her attempt at making him happy with/proud of her), but after Iago's plan unfolds, her oblivious betrayal of her friend
just plain confusion, poor fella
Cassio's betrayal of her with another woman
the perfect way to trick Othello into believing his lies about Desdemona and Cassio
Sex (duh) and Othello's and Des.'s extremely physically-based relationship
Textual Evidence
EMILIA: "I am glad I have found this napkin; / This was her first remembrance from the Moor. / My wayward husband hath a hundred times / Woo'd me to steal it; but she so loves the token / (For he conjured her she should ever keep it) / That she reserves it evermore about her / To kiss and talk to. I'll have the work ta'en out, / And give't to Iago. What he will do with it / Heaven knows, not I; / I nothing but to please his fantasy." (III. iii. 290-299)
IAGO: "I know not that; but such a handkerchief /I am sure it was your wive's) did I to-day / See Cassio wipe his beard with." (III. iii. 437-439)
BIANCA: "O Cassio, whence came this? / This is some token from a newer friend; / To the felt absence now I feel a cause. / Is't come to this? Well, well." (III. iv. 180-183)
Textural Evidence
Can YOU think of the specific examples of this??
Persuades Roderigo into drinking, and thus Roderigo and Cassio fight, losing Cassio his military rank
Tricks Emilia into aiding him in his plan by convincing her to give him Desdemona's handkerchief
Plants the idea in Othello's mind that Desdemona is cheating on him with Cassio
Most poison kills slowly. Its effects begin to show one at a time until its victim realizes its demise, but by that time it's already too late... Sound familiar?
"Your napkin
is too little..."
IAGO: "... Our general cast us thus early for the love / of his Desdemona; who let us not therefore / blame. He hath not yet made wanton the night with / her; and she is sport for Jove." (II.iii.14-17)
Othello kills Des. on their bed, then Iago kills Emilia, who as her dying wish asks to be laid at Des.'s side to die, and last, Othello stabs himself and falls onto the bed. (V.ii)
Works Cited

by William Shakespeare

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