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In Othello, what is the significance of the bedroom in the ending scene? Its metaphoric...

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worcester | College Teacher | (Level 2) Honors

Posted February 18, 2008 at 6:00 AM via web

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In Othello, what is the significance of the bedroom in the ending scene? Its metaphoric qualities, ownership of space, and control?

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 26, 2008 at 10:11 AM (Answer #1)

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Othello is a warrior. On the battlefield, the parade ground, aboard ship, or in war councils, he is at ease, even masterful. However, in the realms of love, he is a foolish and inexperienced commander. Here Iago is master, and leads him astray in classic Machiavellian fashion. Iago draws Othello into war on terrain that he did not choose, and where his many "troops" (his qualities) cannot fight. The bedroom is the ultimate site of love, and the realm of woman. All that Othello can do here is ruin it with his thrashing about, which he does, and it isn't until he does that the public eye (the authorities) access it and make Iago's actions known.

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jlcannad | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted March 12, 2008 at 2:12 AM (Answer #2)

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Certainly, Iago and not Othello is the master of the bedroom, which is why the death scene in which Othello ultimately fails as a general and a husband takes place in the bedroom. However, I would not call the bedroom in Othello a symbol of love. Iago tells Roderigo that the source of his conflict with Othello is jealousy, but he tells the audience that "it is thought abroad, that 'twixt my sheets / He has done my office." So Iago believes that Othello has slept with Emilia, making the underlying conflict between the characters sexual in nature, even if there is no evidence that Othello actually had sex with her.

Emilia's later comments that she would have sex with another man "i' the dark" suggests that Iago's wife has turned the bedroom into battleground. Ironically, Emilia believes that she is acting only for Iago's best to "make him a monarch," but from Iago's asides to the audience and his disrespect for women, we can infer that Iago doesn't appreciate this.

So, having the final conflict in the bedroom emphasizes that this has always been Iago's game. He felt slighted and insulted in the bedroom, and he attacked Othello in that same area in an attempt to even the score.

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