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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Quotes

Quote #4

SAILOR
The Turkish preparation makes for Rhodes;
So was I bid report here to the state
By Signior Angelo.
[…]
DUKE OF VENICE
Nay, in all confidence, he's not for Rhodes.
[…]
MESSENGER
Of thirty sail: and now they do restem
Their backward course, bearing with frank appearance
Their purposes toward Cyprus. (1.3.2)

The deception the Turkish navy attempts – appearing as though they are going to attack Rhodes, when actually they want Cyprus – parallels the sneakier, interpersonal deceptions going on in the play. For more about the relationship between literal war and the psychological battle Iago wages against Othello, check out "Quotes" for "Warfare."

Quote #5

BRABANTIO
Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see:
She has deceived her father, and may thee. (1.3.10)

Brabantio suggests that, because Desdemona deceived her father when she eloped with Othello, Desdemona will likely deceive her husband. Desdemona, as we know, is completely faithful to Othello. The problem is that Othello seems to buy into the stereotype that unruly daughters make for unruly and promiscuous wives, which is part of the reason why Iago is able to manipulate him so easily. (Later, in Act 3, Scene 3, when Iago echoes Brabantio's point, Othello agrees.) Shakespeare seems to be critiquing this unfair attitude toward women in the play – Othello's distrust in his wife leads to a terrible tragedy when he murders Desdemona.

Quote #6

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. (1.3.5)

When Iago makes an analogy between gardening and exercising free will, we're reminded of the way that Iago is the ultimate master gardener, so to speak. Part of what makes him such a brilliant manipulator of Othello is his ability to plant the seeds of doubt and jealousy in Othello's mind.

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