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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 #1

Call up her father,
Rouse him. Make after him, poison his delight,
Proclaim him in the streets; incense her kinsmen,
And, though he in a fertile climate dwell,
Plague him with flies. Though that his joy be joy,
Yet throw such changes of vexation on 't
As it may lose some color. (1.1.74-80)

Yikes. When Iago talks about corrupting Brabantio's opinion of his fair daughter, Desdemona, he uses the language of poison and plague, which seems pretty appropriate given the nature of Iago's manipulation. When Iago tattles on Othello and Desdemona for eloping, he capitalizes on Brabantio's xenophobic attitude toward mixed race marriages. Here's what Iago says to get Brabantio riled up against Othello:

Even now, now, very now, an old black ram
Is topping your white ewe. Arise, arise;
Awake the snorting citizens with the bell,
Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you:
Arise, I say.

Check out "Race" if you want to think about the implications of this.

Quote #2

O, thou foul thief, where hast thou stowed my
Damned as thou art, thou hast enchanted her!
For I'll refer me to all things of sense,
If she in chains of magic were not bound,
Whether a maid so tender, fair, and happy,
So opposite to marriage that she shunned
The wealthy curlèd darlings of our nation,
Would ever have, t' incur a general mock,
Run from her guardage to the sooty bosom
Of such a thing as thou—to fear, not to delight!
Judge me the world, if 'tis not gross in sense
That thou hast practiced on her with foul charms,
Abused her delicate youth with drugs or minerals
That weaken motion. I'll have 't disputed on.
'Tis probable and palpable to thinking.
I therefore apprehend and do attach thee
For an abuser of the world, a practicer
Of arts inhibited and out of warrant.— (1.2.80-98)

Brabantio argues that Othello could not have truly won Desdemona's love – it had to be through some kind of trickery or manipulation. Brabantio couldn't be more wrong, of course.

Quote #3

But for my sport and profit. I hate the Moor,
And it is thought abroad that 'twixt my sheets
He has done my office. I know not if 't be true,
But I, for mere suspicion in that kind,
Will do as if for surety. (1.3.429-433)

Iago cites multiple and incompatible motives for wanting to destroy Othello. Earlier, he said he hates Othello because "the Moor" passed him over for a promotion, but here, he tells us he hates "the Moor" because he's heard a rumor that Othello has been hooking up with Iago's wife, Emilia, "twixt [Iago's] sheets." It's just not clear whether or not we, as an audience, can believe anything Iago has to say.

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