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Quotes

Quote #7

OTHELLO
Give me a living reason she's disloyal.
IAGO
I do not like the office:
But, sith I am enter'd in this cause so far,
Prick'd to't by foolish honesty and love,
I will go on. I lay with Cassio lately;
And, being troubled with a raging tooth,
I could not sleep.
There are a kind of men so loose of soul,
That in their sleeps will mutter their affairs:
One of this kind is Cassio:
In sleep I heard him say 'Sweet Desdemona,
Let us be wary, let us hide our loves;'
And then, sir, would he gripe and wring my hand,
Cry 'O sweet creature!' and then kiss me hard,
As if he pluck'd up kisses by the roots
That grew upon my lips: then laid his leg
Over my thigh, and sigh'd, and kiss'd; and then
Cried 'Cursed fate that gave thee to the Moor!'
OTHELLO
O monstrous! monstrous!
(3.3.56)

When Othello asks for "living reason" (proof) that Desdemona's been "disloyal," Iago tells him about a sexy dream that Cassio supposedly had one night while he was lying in bed next to Iago (presumably, at an army camp). According to Iago, Cassio talked in his sleep while having a naughty dream about Desdemona. Not only that, but Cassio also grabbed Iago, wrapped his leg over his thigh, and made out with him (all while dreaming about Desdemona).

What's going on here? First, it's important to note that Iago is framing Cassio to make it look like he's sleeping with Desdemona. Second, Othello seems willing to accept this story as "proof" that Desdemona's cheating. Third, Iago is describing a blatantly homoerotic moment he has allegedly shared with Cassio, which begs the following question: Is Othello upset/jealous that Cassio (allegedly) had a dream about his wife or, that Cassio was lying in bed and groping Iago? Literary critics have argued both ways, so take your pick and keep reading…

Quote #8

OTHELLO
In the due reverence of a sacred vow
I here engage my words.
IAGO
Do not rise yet.
Kneels
Witness, you ever-burning lights above,
You elements that clip us round about,
Witness that here Iago doth give up
The execution of his wit, hands, heart,
To wrong'd Othello's service! Let him command,
And to obey shall be in me remorse,
What bloody business ever.
[…]
IAGO
I am your own for ever. (3.4.64)

Now this is interesting. When Othello makes Iago his new lieutenant and Iago vows to kill Cassio, the pair make a pact that looks and sounds a whole lot like a sixteenth-century marriage ceremony. What's up with that? Is this evidence, as some critics suggest, of a homoerotic attachment between Othello and Iago? If so, has Iago wanted all along to displace Desdemona and become Othello's intimate partner?

Quote #9

But I do think it is their husbands' faults
If wives do fall: say that they slack their duties,
And pour our treasures into foreign laps,
Or else break out in peevish jealousies,
Throwing restraint upon us; or say they strike us,
Or scant our former having in despite;
Why, we have galls, and though we have some grace,
Yet have we some revenge. Let husbands know
Their wives have sense like them: they see and smell
And have their palates both for sweet and sour,
As husbands have. What is it that they do
When they change us for others? Is it sport?
I think it is: and doth affection breed it?
I think it doth: is't frailty that thus errs?
It is so too: and have not we affections,
Desires for sport, and frailty, as men have?
Then let them use us well: else let them know,
The ills we do, their ills instruct us so. (4.3.16)

According to Emilia, husbands cheat on their wives and often physically abuse them, prompting women to stray. What's more, women have sexual desires, just like men, and women are also "frail" and imperfect, just like some husbands. In other words, Emilia recognizes there's a double standard when it comes to gender and fidelity and she heartily objects.

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