Othello

by: William Shakespeare

Othello

She loved me for the dangers I had passed,
And I loved her that she did pity them. (1.3.)

Othello speaks these lines while explaining how Desdemona came to fall in love with him. While the other Venetians are shocked that Desdemona could love a man from a different race and background, Othello’s explanation shows that he and Desdemona fell in love out of mutual admiration and respect. The quote also reveals that Othello is a charismatic and impressively articulate individual, who can charm someone with the power of his words.

I know, Iago
Thy honesty and love doth mince this matter. (2.3.)

Othello speaks this quote to Iago after Iago has explained to him about Cassio’s involvement in a drunken brawl. Ironically, Othello assumes that Iago is being tactful and trying not to blame Cassio for what happened, whereas Iago has actually engineered the entire situation in order to get Cassio in trouble. The quote reveals Othello’s blind spot where Iago is concerned, and sets the stage for how Othello’s belief in Iago’s integrity and honesty will lead to disaster.

I prithee speak to me as to thy thinkings. (3.3.)

Othello says this to Iago after starting to become suspicious about what might be happening between Desdemona and Cassio. A master manipulator, Iago plants a seed of suspicion, but then seemingly hesitates to make any distinct accusations. As a result, Othello actually has to beg Iago to reveal the very suspicions that Iago is eager to pass along. The quote also shows that once Othello has begun to think about the possibility of his wife being unfaithful, he is unable to leave the idea alone.

No, Iago, I’ll see before I doubt. (3.3.)

Here, Othello asserts his faith in Desdemona and his refusal to be suspicious of her without due cause. The quote shows that Othello does love his wife and does not want to think ill of her. However, Othello’s faith in Desdemona also opens the door for Iago to give Othello seeming “proof” of Desdemona’s infidelity. Because Othello is resistant to believing in Desdemona’s guilt, Iago has more fuel to persuade him.

I saw’t not, thought it not, it harmed not me. (3.3.)

Othello says this line as he rages about the torment he is experiencing now that he is suspicious of his wife’s fidelity. Othello recalls the time when he was blissfully unaware of Desdemona’s alleged betrayal, and as a result he lived in happy ignorance. Now that Iago has awakened jealousy and suspicion in him, he cannot think about anything else.

Even so my bloody thoughts with violent pace
Shall ne’er look back, ne’er ebb to humble love. (3.3.)

Finally convinced that Desdemona has betrayed him, Othello vows revenge against her and Cassio. The quote shows how fully Othello’s feelings towards Desdemona have changed: he now hates her as passionately as he previously loved her. The quote darkly foreshadows how Othello will be unmoved by Desdemona’s insistence on her innocence and pleas for her life to be spared.

Therefore be double damned: Swear thou art honest. (4.2.)

Here, Othello prepares to kill Desdemona. He believes that her soul is damned because of her adultery and the more she protests her innocence, the more enraged he becomes. The quote shows the terrible bind Desdemona is trapped in: her attempts to speak the truth and tell her husband she is chaste only make him more angry at her because he believes she is lying.

Then must you speak
Of one that loved not wisely but too well. (5.2.)

Othello says this line at the very end of the play, once he realizes that he has been tricked and deceived. At this point, all he can do is try to explain how he would like his story to be told. He specifies that he sees his downfall as his passion for Desdemona, since it ultimately made him succumb to jealousy. Had he been less in love with his wife, he would not have become as jealous.