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Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

The candle that Othello blows out just before he strangles Desdemona symbolizes Desdemona's fragile life. Othello draws the comparison himself – as he stands over a sleeping Desdemona with a lit candle in his hand, he says he's going to "Put out the light, and then put out the light" (blow out the candle and then strangle Desdemona). He also muses that the difference between Desdemona's life and a candle's light is that he can put out and relight the candle over and over if he so chooses, but he can kill Desdemona only once: "If I quench thee, thou flaming minister, / I can again thy former light restore, / should I repent me," he says to the candle. "But," he says to the sleeping Desdemona, "once put out thy light, / Thou cunning'st pattern of excelling nature, / I know not where is that Promethean heat / That can thy light relume" (5.2.8-13). Yep, that's pretty creepy.

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