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What is being said in the following quotes from Act IV scene iii in Othello, and why...

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katarinazichy | Honors

Posted November 4, 2013 at 11:46 PM via web

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What is being said in the following quotes from Act IV scene iii in Othello, and why is it significant ?

Why the wrong is but a wrong i' the world: and
having the world for your labour, tis a wrong in your
own world, and you might quickly make it right.

DESDEMONA

I do not think there is any such woman.

EMILIA

Yes, a dozen; and as many to the vantage as would
store the world they played for.
But I do think it is their husbands' faults
If wives do fall: say that they slack their duties,
And pour our treasures into foreign laps,
Or else break out in peevish jealousies,
Throwing restraint upon us; or say they strike us,
Or scant our former having in despite;
Why, we have galls, and though we have some grace,
Yet have we some revenge. Let husbands know
Their wives have sense like them: they see and smell
And have their palates both for sweet and sour,
As husbands have. What is it that they do
When they change us for others? Is it sport?
I think it is: and doth affection breed it?
I think it doth: is't frailty that thus errs?
It is so too: and have not we affections,
Desires for sport, and frailty, as men have?
Then let them use us well: else let them know,
The ills we do, their ills instruct us so.

 

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 5, 2013 at 5:38 AM (Answer #1)

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In Othello, Desdemona has seen a dramatic change in Othello which she cannot understand. Othello has been so influenced by Iago who he thinks is a "man of honesty and trust"(I.iii.284), as to doubt Desdemona's fidelity. Desdemona, in her innocence, even wonders if there are women who would "do such a deed for all the world."(Iv.iii.63) Emilia stresses that, if her actions could make her husband "a monarch," then even she would consider it. Emilia explains to Desdemona that there are, indeed, women who would be unfaithful but that, she believes "it is their husbands' faults"(84) as they become jealous or place unreasonable boundaries on their wives who, in turn, will have "some revenge."(91) Emilia continues to explain that men act as if it is a "sport" to treat their wives poorly and that it reveals their weakness. Women also have the same desires and "frailty" and they may behave inappropriately because their husbands' "ills instruct us so."(101)

The significance of the discussion between Desdemona and Emilia reveals that even Emilia is being usurped by Iago. Desdemona's innocence is intensified and the audience can understand the influence of Iago over everyone and how they all remain fooled by his appearance of loyalty even though he has admitted that "I am not what I am."(I.i.66) Ultimately, the women will suffer at the hands of their husbands and the element of truth makes the outcome even more tragic. 

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