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Othello Identity Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the Norton edition.

Quote #7

My noble father,
I do perceive here a divided duty.
To you I am bound for life and education.
My life and education both do learn me
How to respect you. You are the lord of duty.
I am hitherto your daughter. But here's my
And so much duty as my mother showed
To you, preferring you before her father,
So much I challenge that I may profess
Due to the Moor my lord. (1.3.208-218)

Although Desdemona feels torn between her "duty" to her father and her husband (kind of like Cordelia in Act 1 of King Lear), she ultimately professes her loyalty to her husband. Here, we can see that Desdemona is tactful, respectful, and also pretty independent.

Quote #8

I saw Othello's visage in his mind,
And to his honors and his valiant parts
Did I my soul and fortunes consecrate.
So that, dear lords, if I be left behind,
A moth of peace, and he go to the war,
The rites for which I love him are bereft me
And I a heavy interim shall support
By his dear absence. Let me go with him. (1.3.287-294)

There are a couple of things to notice about this passage. First, Desdemona says she fell in love with the way Othello sees himself, which, as we know, is as a valiant war hero. Second, we notice that Desdemona's pretty bold. She not only defends her right to marry the man she loves but also her right to enjoy Othello as a husband, which includes being with him when he leaves for Cyprus and sharing his bed. In other words, Desdemona's not afraid to express her desire for her husband.

Quote #9

Virtue? A fig! 'Tis in ourselves that we are thus or
thus. Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our
wills are gardeners. So that if we will plant nettles
or sow lettuce, set hyssop and weed up thyme,
supply it with one gender of herbs, or distract it
with many, either to have it sterile with idleness or
manured with industry, why, the power and corrigible
authority of this lies in our wills. If the balance
of our lives had not one scale of reason to poise
another of sensuality, the blood and baseness of our
natures would conduct us to most prepost'rous
conclusions. But we have reason to cool our raging
motions, our carnal stings, our unbitted lusts—
whereof I take this that you call love to be a sect, or
scion. (1.3.361-375)

Iago believes human beings have complete control over their actions and their emotions. Not only that, but Iago is also a figure who seems to have complete control over the actions and emotions of others, which we discuss in more detail in "Manipulation."

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