'Othello' Quotations Explained

  • Created by: OMAM
  • Created on: 10-11-17 10:43

"I follow him to serve my turn upon him"

Act 1, Scene 1

Iago to Roderigo, about Othello

Interestingly, the play begins with the antagonist, and the protagonist is only mentioned, but not by name. This places an immediate focus on the tragic villain, as it is clear he is going to be an important character in the plot, especially from this quotation.

This quotation demonstrates Iago's decpetive nature, as he is pretending to be loyal and faithful to Othello, whilst plotting his revenge against him. Iago is constantly playing a game of deception throughout the play.

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"Thieves, thieves! Look to your house, your daught

Act 1, Scene1

Iago to Brabantio

CONTEXT (AO3): In Shakespeare's time, daughters would have needed their father's permission to marry a man. Othello can be viewed as 'stealing' Desdemona from Brabantio, as she is considered her father’s property,and Othello has 'taken' her without Brabantio's permission

This is reinforced by the repetition plural noun 'thieves'.

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"She did deceive her father marrying you"

Act 3, Scene 3

Iago to Othello

Iago is implying that if a woman cannot be faithful to her father she isn’t going to be faithful to her husband – trying to manipulate Othello and convince him that Desdemona has been unfaithful with Cassio

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Act 4, Scene

OTHELLO, striking her: Devil! / DESDEMONA: I have not deserved this. […] / OTHELLO: O, devil, devil!” Othello to Desdemona

Othello’s mental state is deteriorating (speech becoming rash and disjointed)

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Act 5, Scene 2

“Of one not easily jealous, but being wrought, perplexed in the extreme” Othello

Claims he didn’t know what he was doing

Trying to redeem himself / justify what he has done

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"An old black ram is tupping your white ewe"

Act 1, Scene 1

Iago to Brabantio, about Othello and Desdemona

Here, Iago plays on the fears of miscegenation (interracial marraige), which would have been frowned upon during Shakespeare's time. This is demonstrated by the contrast between the adjectives 'black' and 'white'. Furthermore, as Desdemona is compared to a 'white ewe', it can be inferred that Shakespeare is highlighting her innocence, suggesting in that Iago is attempting to make their marriage sound even more absurd.

Iago's use of racist language combined with sexual and animal imagery, is used to scare Brabantio, increasing the hatred the senator has for Othello.

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"Thou art a vilain"

Act 1, Scene

Brabantio to Iago

Here, Brabantio perfectly describes the antagonist, whilst being unaware of the truth to his words.

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"Where hast thou stowed my daughter?"

Act 1, Scene 2

Brabantio to Othello, about Desdemona

Once again, Desdemona is being treated as a piece of property that has been unlawfully taken away from Brabantio

This seems to be a common theme in Shakespeare's plays, where daughters are considered to be their father's property, and unmarried women are portrayed as being stolen, bartered for, and/or traded by men

(AO2): The possessive pronoun 'my' reinforces this, as it shows that Brabantio has ownership over Desdemona

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