by: William Shakespeare

Five Key Questions

Summary Five Key Questions

3) Why does Othello care about Desdemona’s handkerchief?

Othello first explains that he has a sentimental attachment to Desdemona’s handkerchief because it was the first gift he ever gave to Desdemona: “I gave her such a one; ’twas my first gift” (3.3). He later elaborates on the family history of the handkerchief, telling Desdemona that it was a gift from his mother, who had used it as a charm to maintain his father’s love. He explains “There’s magic in the web of it”(3.4.), leaving Desdemona unsure of whether or not to believe him. Because of Othello’s strong attachment to the handkerchief, he is particularly upset that Desdemona cannot find it, and horrified that she might have given it away to another man. Iago’s scheme to make it appear as though Cassio then gave the handkerchief to Bianca further disrespects the family heirloom, making it appear as something that can simply be passed around in a cycle of sexual exchange.