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Othello Sex Quotes

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

Quote #1

Even now, now, very now, an old black ram
Is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise!
Awake the snorting citizens with the bell,
Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you.
have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse,
you'll have your nephews neigh to you, (1.1.97-100; 124-126)

In order to manipulate Brabantio's fears of miscegenation, Iago uses animal metaphors to suggest that Desdemona is being defiled by Othello. Check out "Race" for more on this.

Quote #2

Faith, he tonight hath boarded a land carrack.
If it prove lawful prize, he's made for ever.
I do not understand.
He's married. (1.2.60-63)

Iago describes marriage as the violent takeover of an enemy's prize ship. This brings us back to the theory that love is a war in Othello, and Iago is trying to play maestro – or more likely, general.

Quote #3

My dear love,
The purchase made, the fruits are to ensue;
The profit's yet to come 'tween me and you.—
Goodnight. (2.3.9-13)

At this point in the play, Othello talks about sex in positive terms – as a fruit to enjoy, something that "profits" both man and woman. On the other hand, we could say that Othello's tendency to use financial metaphors – "purchase" and "profit" – make us a little uncomfortable. If marriage is something akin to a "purchase," that leaves the door wide open for viewing one's spouse as a possession.

It's also important to note that it's pretty clear that Desdemona and Othello haven't yet consummated their marriage, since Othello says good times in the sack are "yet to come." When Othello says good night to his attendants here, it's obvious that he and Desdemona are running off to have sex, finally. But, shortly thereafter, Othello and Desdemona's evening of fun is interrupted when Cassio gets drunk and gets into a brawl, which Othello is called upon to mediate.

So, we're not sure if Othello and Desdemona ever get a chance to do the deed. Why does this matter? Well, some critics argue that the couple never has sex. Other critics argue that they do hook up, which may leave Othello feeling as though he has "contaminated" his wife's sexual and racial purity. After Othello sleeps with his wife, she suddenly becomes a "whore" in his mind. This, according to some, explains why Othello is quick to believe that Desdemona's got something going on the side with Cassio.

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