Othello Quotes

“I follow him to serve my turn upon him” Who: IagoWhere: I.i.45Significance: This quote defines Iago’s villainous character by saying that he wants to “serve his turn” on Othello. He is untrustworthy and thirsty for revenge.
“In following him, I follow but myself” Who: IagoWhere: I.i.64Significance: Similar to above. These are all in the exposition of the play and serve to establish Iago’s character and show what a tricky dude he is.
“I am not what I am” Who: IagoWhere: I.i.71Significance: Same as previous two. Iago is not what he is. “Honest Iago” is not.
“Rude am I in my speech, and little blessed with the soft phrase of peace;” Who: OthelloWhere: I.iii.96-97Significance: Establishing the theme of Othello’s speech and humbleness–Othello thinks himself very unrefined and plainspoken even though he is clearly a fluent speaker.
“For your sake, jewel, I am glad at soul I have no other child, for thy escape would teach me tyranny, to hang clogs on them.– I have done, my lord.” Who: BrabantioWhere: I.iii.225-28Significance: Brabantio is totally betrayed by Desdemona’s elopement. She has broken his heart and he hands her over to Othello. After this betrayal, Brabantio can never again trust a child from running away.
“If virtue no delighted beauty lack, your son-in-law is more fair than black.” Who: Duke [to Brabantio]Where: I.iii.330-31Significance: Play on the old-timey connotations of “black” (bad, evil, etc.) and “fair” (good, virtuous, noble) in reference to Othello’s upstanding character. Almost like saying “hey, he’s a good, virtuous man.” I would also say that this fits under first-act characterization (Othello is good.).
“Let us be conjuctive in our revenge against him.” Who: IagoWhere: I.iii.410-11Significance: This is the first time Iago brings his plan up to Roderigo. Iago has just convinced Roderigo not to kill himself and bucked him up by telling him to cuckold Othello. earlier he says “if sanctimony and a frail vow betwixt an erring barbarian and a supersubtle Venetian be not too much for my wits and all the tribe of hell, thou shalt enjoy her.”
“With as little a web as this I will ensnare as great a fly as Cassio” Who: IagoWhere: II.i.183-84Significance: Whispering to himself, Iago reveals his plot to use Cassio’s charm against him. The use of the spider/fly relationship between Iago and Cassio, respectively.
“O my soul’s joy! If after every tempest come such calms, may the winds blow until they have wakened death, and let the laboring bark climb hills of seas Olympus high, and duck again as low as hell’s from heaven!” Who: OthelloWhere: II.i. 200-05Significance: Othello’s speech again. And again, it’s still beautiful. He loves his wife and gives a hearty speech to that effect. This effect is heightened by Iago’s remarks on women and other nasty sayings.
“Now, for want of those desired conveniences, her delicate tenderness will find itself abused, begin to heave the gorge, disrelish and abhor the Moor.” Who: IagoWhere: II.i.252-255Significance: On one level, Iago is lying to Roderigo with his myth that Desdemona loves Othello for his body and will grow sick of him. Believing this keeps Roderigo interested in Iago’s plot and lies. On another, Iago is continuing to be crude and disgusting and against love and beauty.
“I have very poor and unhappy brains for drinking” Who: CassioWhere: II.iii.34-35Significance: he sure does! Short-term foreshadowing of the mess Cassio is about to let Iago make of his life.
“I had rather have this tongue plucked from my mouth than it should do offense to Michael Cassio.” Who: IagoWhere: II.iii.236-37Significance: Iago is accomplishing two things here: on one hand, he is betraying Cassio and blaming him for the brawl. On the other, he does this while still looking like “Honest Iago” to Othello and Montano
“Cassio, I love thee. But nevermore be officer of mine.” Who: OthelloWhere: II.iii.264-65Significance: Othello fires Cassio. This is a major plot point because of the role Cassio will play later in the play.
“O, I have lost my reputation. I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation, Iago, my reputation!” Who: CassioWhere: II.iii.281-84Significance: Cassio cares about his reputation.
“As I am an honest man, I thought you had received some bodily wound. There is more sense in that than in reputation. Reputation is an idle and most false imposition, oft got without merit and lost without deserving. You have lost no reputation at all, unless you repute yourself such a loser.” Who: IagoWhere: II.iii.285-90Significance: Shows Iago to be a dishonorable dog who cares not for his good name. Also sets the stage for the contrast in speech on the same subject in act 3.
“I think it freely; and betimes in the morning I will beseech the virtuous Desdemona to undertake for me. I am desperate of my fortunes if they check me there.” Who: CassioWhere: II.iii.349-52Significance: At Iago’s suggestion, Cassio decides that he will beg Desdemona to appeal to Othello to get his job back. This fits well with Iago’s dastardly plan,as we see later.
“And what’s he, then, that says I play the villain…dull not device by coldness and delay.” Who: Iago and ReoderigoWhere: II.iii.356-410Significance: After Rederigo leaves, Iago does a bit of cheming to himself and uses the interjection “divinity of hell!” and says that he will “turn her [Desdemona’s] loyalty to pitch” by making her loyalty to Cassio enrage Othello.
“Good name in man and woman, dear my lord…And makes me poor indeed.” Who: IagoWhere: III.iii.181-190Significance: Here, Iago talks about reputation again. Although he told Cassio that reputation is a joke, he tells Othello that his “good name” is everything to him. It’s an example of dramatic irony. On the other hand, Iago wouldn’t get anything done if Othello and company didn’t think him so honest
“O beware, my lord, of jealousy…who dotes, yet doubts, who suspects but strongly loves!” Who: IagoWhere: III.iii.195-200Significance: Kind of a warning/foreshadowing. Iago tells Othello not to be jealous, which makes Iago look like a caring friend and also implants the thought of jealousy in Othello’s mind.
“I am bound to thee forever.” Who: OthelloWhere: III.iii.149Significance: Othello is bound to Iago forever. From now on, Othello is completely under Iago’s sway, moving the plot forward and leading to the tragedy of act 5.
“Trifles as light as air are to the jealous confirmations strong as proofs of holy writ.” Who: IagoWhere: III.iii.370-72Significance: Iago knows Othello will believe anything he says. Iago realizes his power, saying, ind understatement, “this may do something.” No, Iago: it will do everything
“Avaunt! Be gone! Thou hast set me on the rack!” Who:OthelloWhere: III.iii.385Significance: Iago with his lies has set Othello on ‘the rack,’ a contemporary torture device. This is a metaphor for the pain of suspecting his wife of infidelity. According the notes, “avaunt” would be used in dismissing witches and demons, which makes sense considering Iago’s evil.
“Villain, be thou sure that you prove my love a *****! Be sure of it. Give me ocular proof, or, by the worth of mine eternal soul, thou hadst better been born a dog than answer my waked wrath.” Who: OthelloWhere:III.iii.410-415Significance: Othello is completely under Iago’s grasp, but wants visible proof of Desdemona’s cheating before he believes Iago. He then threatens Iago. That ‘proof’ is coming up
“Think every bearded fellow that’s but yoked may draw with you. There’s millions now alive that nightly lie in those improper beds which they dare swear peculiar. Your case is better.” Who: IagoWhere: IV.iii.80-83Significance: Iago tells Othello that infidelity is ubiquitous. In telling Othello to “be a man,” Iago is goading him on and adding to his stress.
“Do but encave yourself and mark the fleers, the gibes, and notable scorns that dwell in every region of his face. For I will make him tell the tale anew–Where, how, how oft, how long ago, and when he hath and is again to cope your wife.” Who: IagoWhere: IV.i.96-101Significance: Iago tells Othello to hide himself as he speaks to Cassio. From his position, Othello can’t hear Iago and Cassio’s conversation. Which is a crying shame because Cassio is talking about Bianca. Meanwhile, Iago is feeding Othello’s paranoia.
“The Moor’s abused by some most villainous knave, some base notorious knave, some scurvy fellow. O (heaven,) that such companions thou’dst unfold, and put in every honest hand a whip to lash the rascals naked through the world. even from the east to the west!” Who: EmiliaWhere: IV.ii.164-169Significance: Emilia is onto Iago. She knows someone is abusing him and knows what a scalawag her husband is. After this, Iago tells her to quiet down, showing how on the money she is.
“It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul…She wakes” Who: OthelloWhere: V.ii.1-24Significance: Othello’s monologue before killing Desdemona. He asserts that he wouldn’t do it if not for the cause and the fear that she’ll break another heart. He references Prometheus and says that he is smothering her to avoid destroying her pure white beauty–as in Angelic beauty. He hesitates, saying that her balmy breath makes justice break her sword.
“Now, how dost thou look now? O ill-starred wench…from the possession of this heavenly sight!” Who: OthelloWhere: V.ii.321-24Significance: Othello laments the mistake of killing Desdemona. He says that at last judgement, the look of death on her face will damn him to hell. The references to hell are getting stronger here in the end.
“Then must you speak…circumcised dog, and smote him, thus.” Who: OthelloWhere: V.ii.403-17Significance: Othello’s “suicide note.” He basically says that he wants be remembered as a lover,one who was only jealous rarely, though in the extreme, as Judas who threw away the pearl of Desdemona, and as a lowly dog who killed the Turk Iago.
“Look on the tragic loading of this bed.” Who: LodovicoWhere:V.ii.426Significance: “See that, Iago? That’s all your fault, you criminal scum. Take him away, boys.”

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