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by William Shakespeare

 Table of Contents

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 husband,
And so much duty as my mother show'd
To you, preferring you before her father,
So much I challenge that I may profess
Due to the Moor my lord. (1.3.1)

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 honour 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. (1.3.2)

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 preposterous 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. (1.3.5)

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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