Othello

by: William Shakespeare

Emilia

What he will do with it,
Heaven knows, not I. (3.3.)

Emilia says this line after she picks up the handkerchief Desdemona has dropped, planning to turn it over to Iago. This quote shows that Emilia at this point feels little moral responsibility, and in fact might prefer not to know the details of what her husband is plotting. Later in the play, she will be devastated to realize how her action contributed to a chain of events culminating in Desdemona’s death.

’Tis not a year or two shows us a man. (3.4.)

Emilia explains to Desdemona that her friend is only newly married and may not yet understand her husband’s true nature. The quote suggests that Emilia has only gradually learned who Iago truly is, and that she is trying to encourage her friend to be more cautious and less naïve.

They are not ever jealous for the cause
But jealous for they’re jealous. (3.4.)

Here, Emilia and Desdemona argue about whether Othello will ever be satisfied about Desdemona’s innocence. Desdemona thinks she can prove her fidelity to her husband, but Emilia is more cynical and believes that now that Othello has become suspicious, he will never be able to fully trust his wife again. Emilia’s insight might come from her less-happy relationship, but it turns out to be true.

If any wretch have put this in your head
Let heaven requite it with the serpent’s curse. (4.2.)

Here, Emilia chastises Othello for doubting Desdemona’s fidelity. Ironically, Emilia immediately hits upon the truth that Othello’s suspicions result from someone else planting these ideas. However, she has no idea that it is actually her own husband who is the person she curses here. The quote reflects the important theme of deception, showing that even married couples may not truly know much about their spouse.