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Othello Marriage Quotes

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

Quote #7

What sense had I of her stol'n hours of lust?
I saw 't not, thought it not; it harmed not me.
I slept the next night well, fed well, was free and
I found not Cassio's kisses on her lips.
He that is robbed, not wanting what is stol'n,
Let him not know 't, and he's not robbed at all. (3.3.389-395)

In this passage, Othello tries to come to terms with Desdemona's alleged affair with Cassio. In doing so, he voices a pretty common desire among victims of infidelity – he says he'd be much better off if he just didn't know about it.

What's most interesting to us about this passage, however, is the way Othello uses the language of theft to describe Desdemona's supposed betrayal. When Othello laments the affair, he suggests that he's been "robb'd" by Cassio. Hmm. This sounds a whole lot like Brabantio's reaction to the news that Desdemona eloped with Othello (see 1.2.2 above), don't you think? When Othello (and Brabantio) say that Desdemona is something that has been "robb'd" or "stol'n" from them, they talk about her as if she's a piece of property that passes from one man to the next.

Quote #8

I am glad I have found this napkin.
This was her first remembrance from the Moor.
My wayward husband hath a hundred times
Wooed me to steal it. But she so loves the token
(For he conjured her she should ever keep it)
That she reserves it evermore about her
To kiss and talk to. I'll have the work ta'en out
And give 't Iago. What he will do with it
Heaven knows, not I.
I nothing but to please his fantasy. (3.3.334-343)

Why does Emilia steal Desdemona's handkerchief and give it to her jerk of a husband, Iago? (She has to know Iago is up to no good, doesn't she?) It seems that, despite (or perhaps because of) Iago's abuse, Emilia still craves her husband's love and approval, which is why she'll stoop to anything in order to "please" him. Check out our "Character" analysis of Emilia for more about her motives.

Quote #9

Minion, your dear lies dead,
And your unblest fate hies. Strumpet, I come.
Forth of my heart those charms, thine eyes, are
Thy bed, lust-stained, shall with lust's blood be
   spotted. (5.1.36-41)

Because Othello believes Desdemona has been cheating on him, he rationalizes (in the most irrational and disturbing way) that it's fitting for him to kill his wife on the bed they share as a married couple.

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