‘Othello’ – The handkerchief Flashcard Example #55603

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what is the symbolic significance of the handkerchief
Line55- Othello begins to confirm suspicions that he has used magic to woo Desdemona, as he comments on the ‘magic in the web of it’ and ‘t’ would make her amiable and subdue my father entirely to her love’.

Othello certainly seems to offer this gift as a symbol of his love, particularly considering that it was gifted to him by his mother and he clearly values it greatly. However, Iago successfully manipulates the meaning behind the handkerchief and focuses it more on the fidelity of Desdemona.

what is the significance of Othello saying to ‘lose’t or give’t way
Othello comments that to ‘lose’t or give’t away were such perdition/ As nothing else could match’ Othello speaks hyperbolically and highlights the significance of the handkerchief to him, of course making Desdemona incredibly concerned. The offering of this gift was a form of curse, as Desdemona will suffer greatly due to the lack of a handkerchief’s loss
what is the handkerchief?
Iago tells Emilia to take the handkerchief from Desdemona and later uses it to further persuade Othello that Desdemona has been unfaithful
what does the handkerchief represents?
The handkerchief represents the power of Iago’s manipulation as he is able to use such a small item to lead to the deaths of three people in total

Othello has given the handkerchief to Desdemona, as he believes that it will lead to his and Desdemona’s relationship lasting.

what is the symbolic nature of the handkerchief?
We are immediately aware that Othello sees the handkerchief as magical, which can be cross referenced to the opening scenes of the play in which Brabantio accuses Othello about witchcraft and sorcery

Brabantio: ‘If she in chains of magic were not bound, whether a maid so tender, fair, and handy, so opposite to marriage that she shunned the wealthy.’

what is the symbolic reference of the handkerchief to Desdemona?
Othello tests Desdemona’s integrity by questioning her about the handkerchief’s whereabouts. Unfortunately, Desdemona does not realize that she is exacerbating Othello’s rage and jealousy by constantly referring to Cassio. This is demonstrated through Shakespeare’s use of stichomythia, as Desdemona begs ‘I pray talk to me of Cassio’ following O’s questions about the handkerchief.
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