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Othello Manipulation Quotes

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

Quote #4

The Turkish preparation makes for Rhodes.
So was I bid report here to the state
By Signior Angelo.
Nay, in all confidence, he's not for Rhodes.
Of thirty sail; and now they do restem
Their backward course, bearing with frank
Their purposes toward Cyprus. (1.3.18-20; 37; 43-46)

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

Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see.
She has deceived her father, and may thee. (1.3.333-334)

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. (1.3.361-368)

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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