Othello - Act Four


Act Four, Scene One (pages 98-106)

key quotations:

{Iago} "[Quietly]" Iago speaks quietly so that Othello thinks he is talking about Desdemona. 

{Othello} "fire and brimstone" becomes angered & uses devil-like language "Devil" [he strikes her]" Othello hits Desdemona, acting in a way that is not acceptable in Cyprus "my lord, this would not be believed in Venice,"

{Lodovico about Desdemona} "truly, an obidient lady" shows that women were expected to obey their husbands and do as they were told - men just expected this of them 

{Othello} Iago torments Othello about the handkerchief and Othello wishes he could forget it "O, it comes o'er my memory / as doth the raven o'er the infectious house" the plague reference reminds us that Iago is still infecting Othello with his poison. Croaking ravens were thought to be birds of ill omen, so the imagery here foreshadows the tragic outcome for Othello once his peace of mind is destroyed. 


Othello's degradation = Othello's speeches are full of disjointed sentence structures. Later on in this scene Othello uses prose, signalling his debasement. Early on, when he is tormented by a theoretical discussion about whether it is possible for a man and women to be "naked in bed...and not mean harm" Othello uses Christian imagery "the devil their virtue tempts, and they tempt heaven" later he speaks of Desdemona being "damned tonight". Othello still has a moral code. However, his speeches are still full of savagery and egotism, "i will chop her into messes" Cuckold me!"

Iago in control = Iago controls Othello completely. There is irony in his reference to his poisoning as "medicine". Iago's methods are a sadistic repitition of those he used in Act 3, Scene 3. Iago commands Othello's imagination, conjuring up distressing images of indifelity. He plays devil's advocate when he suggests that Desdemona's honour is hers to give away as she chooses. Eventually, he brings on Othello's fit when he jests about Cassio in Desdemona's bed "with her, on her, what you will" the casual brutality of these words show how much Iago enjoys his power.                                      

Act Four, Scene Two (pages 106-113)

key quotations: 

{Iago} "Why did he so?" Iago is being ignorant and oblivious to Othello's bad actions 

{Iago} "How comes this trick upon him?" dramatic irony, Iago was the one who tricked Othello but only he and the audience knows

{Iago to Emilia} "You are a fool" He treates Emilia with no respect 

{Iago} "tis but his humour the business of the state does


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