In what ways does this dialogue develop your response to Othello in the play as a whole?

Essay by atopgirl June 2004

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Following this mingled conversation in which Desdemona playfully reverses Othello's insinuating diagnosis; Desdemona informs her husband that she has sent for Cassio to speak to Othello. However Othello ignores this piece of information and claiming a cold in the head, asks for her handkerchief. Desdemona expresses regret that she does not have it with her. Othello reproves her for not having and then gives an account of why the handkerchief is so important. Since the handkerchief plays so important a part in the plot machinery of the play, the description of it is as follows

" That handkerchief

Did an Egyptian to my mother give.

She was a charmer, and could almost read

The thoughts of people. She told her, while she kept it,

It would make her amiable and subdue my father

Eternity to her love, but if she lost it

Or made a gift of it, my fathers eye

Should hold her loathly, and his spirits should hunt

After new fancies.

She, dying, gave it me,

And bid me, when my fate would have me wive,

To give it her, I did so, and take heed on't,

Make it a darling like your precious eye.

To lose't or give't away were such perdition

As nothing else could match."

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The handkerchief was the Moors fist gift to Desdemona. Emilia refers to it as "that the Moor first gave to Desdemona" and Othello tells Iago "twas my first gift". If this gift was given during the courtship and is truly a magic handkerchief, then Othello did use magic to win Desdemona, and he lied to the Dukes Court. However if the courtship was conducted without magic as Othello told the court, he may be lying now, the handkerchief may not have these properties. Othello maybe inventing...