Skip Site Navigation to page content menu

Selection 3: Emilia, Othello and Desdemona (from Act III Scene IV)

logo: Shakespeare for Students 2nd ed. Get insight to Othello in Shakespeare for Students 2nd edition online. back to page menu

"Although Desdemona does not know what is going on, she and Emilia discuss the jealousy that can sometimes be aroused. Desdemona tells Emilia that she cannot imagine Othello ever being jealous. This is Shakespeare's use of irony, as the audience knows full well that Othello is in a jealous rage. Othello enters and says he is not feeling well. He asks for the handkerchief that he once gave to Desdemona. Desdemona says she has misplaced it. Othello tells her the handkerchief is imbued with magical powers. The loss of it could mean bad luck. Tempers flair, as Desdemona and Othello clash. Othello storms out of the room." 1

back to page menu

DESDEMONA.

Where should I lose that handkerchief, Emilia?

back to page menu

EMILIA.

I know not, madam.

back to page menu

DESDEMONA.

Believe me, I had rather have lost my purse
Full of crusadoes: and, but my noble Moor
Is true of mind and made of no such baseness
As jealous creatures are, it were enough
To put him to ill thinking.

back to page menu

EMILIA.

Is he not jealous?

back to page menu

DESDEMONA.

Who, he? I think the sun where he was born
Drew all such humours from him.

back to page menu

EMILIA.

Look, where he comes.

back to page menu

DESDEMONA.

I will not leave him now till Cassio
Be call'd to him.

[Enter Othello.]

How is't with you, my lord?

back to page menu

OTHELLO.

Well, my good lady.–[Aside.] O, hardness to dissemble!–
How do you, Desdemona?

back to page menu

DESDEMONA.

Well, my good lord.

back to page menu

OTHELLO.

Give me your hand: this hand is moist, my lady.

back to page menu

DESDEMONA.

It yet hath felt no age nor known no sorrow.

back to page menu

OTHELLO.

This argues fruitfulness and liberal heart:–
Hot, hot, and moist: this hand of yours requires
A sequester from liberty, fasting, and prayer,
Much castigation, exercise devout;
For here's a young and sweating devil here
That commonly rebels. 'Tis a good hand,
A frank one.

back to page menu

DESDEMONA.

You may, indeed, say so;
For 'twas that hand that gave away my heart.

back to page menu

OTHELLO.

A liberal hand: the hearts of old gave hands;
But our new heraldry is hands, not hearts.

back to page menu

DESDEMONA.

I cannot speak of this. Come now, your promise.

back to page menu

OTHELLO.

What promise, chuck?

back to page menu

DESDEMONA.

I have sent to bid Cassio come speak with you.

back to page menu

OTHELLO.

I have a salt and sorry rheum offends me; Lend me thy handkerchief.

back to page menu

DESDEMONA.

Here, my lord.

back to page menu

OTHELLO.

That which I gave you.

back to page menu

DESDEMONA.

I have it not about me.

back to page menu

OTHELLO.

Not?

back to page menu

DESDEMONA.

No, faith, my lord.

back to page menu

OTHELLO.

That is a fault. That handkerchief
Did an Egyptian to my mother give;
She was a charmer, and could almost read
The thoughts of people: she told her, while she kept it,
'Twould make her amiable and subdue my father
Entirely to her love; but if she lost it
Or made a gift of it, my father's eye
Should hold her loathed, and his spirits should hunt
After new fancies: she, dying, gave it me;
And bid me, when my fate would have me wive,
To give it her. I did so: and take heed on't;
Make it a darling like your precious eye;
To lose't or give't away were such perdition
As nothing else could match.

back to page menu

DESDEMONA.

Is't possible?

back to page menu

OTHELLO.

'Tis true: there's magic in the web of it:
A sibyl, that had number'd in the world
The sun to course two hundred compasses,
In her prophetic fury sew'd the work;
The worms were hallow'd that did breed the silk;
And it was dy'd in mummy which the skillful
Conserv'd of maiden's hearts.

back to page menu

DESDEMONA.

Indeed! is't true?

back to page menu

OTHELLO.

Most veritable; therefore look to't well.

back to page menu

DESDEMONA.

Then would to God that I had never seen't!

back to page menu

OTHELLO.

Ha! wherefore?

back to page menu

DESDEMONA.

Why do you speak so startingly and rash?

back to page menu

OTHELLO.

Is't lost? is't gone? speak, is it out of the way?

back to page menu

DESDEMONA.

Heaven bless us!

back to page menu

OTHELLO.

Say you?

back to page menu

DESDEMONA.

It is not lost; but what an if it were?

back to page menu

OTHELLO.

How!

back to page menu

DESDEMONA.

I say, it is not lost.

back to page menu

OTHELLO.

Fetch't, let me see't.

back to page menu

DESDEMONA.

Why, so I can, sir, but I will not now.
This is a trick to put me from my suit:
Pray you, let Cassio be receiv'd again.

back to page menu

OTHELLO.

Fetch me the handkerchief: my mind misgives.

back to page menu

DESDEMONA.

Come, come; You'll never meet a more sufficient man.

back to page menu

OTHELLO.

The handkerchief!

back to page menu

DESDEMONA.

I pray, talk me of Cassio.

back to page menu

OTHELLO.

The handkerchief!

back to page menu

DESDEMONA.

A man that all his time
Hath founded his good fortunes on your love,
Shar'd dangers with you,–

back to page menu

OTHELLO.

The handkerchief!

back to page menu

DESDEMONA.

In sooth, you are to blame.

back to page menu

OTHELLO.

Away!

[Exit.]

back to page menu

EMILIA.

Is not this man jealous?

back to page menu
back to page menu

References

  1. "Othello." Shakespeare for Students: Critical Interpretations of Shakespeare's Plays and Poetry. Ed. Anne Marie Hacht. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. Detroit: Gale, 2007. 649-687. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 14 July 2011.

    Document URL
    http://ezproxy.kanawhalibrary.org/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?&id=GALE%7CCX2896100031&v=2.1&u=kcpl_main&it=r&p=GVRL&sw=w

back to page menu