The dominant symbol in Othello is the handkerchief, spotted with strawberries, Othello's first gift to Desdemona. It's white background is symbolic of Desdemona's suspected reputation (virginity), and the spots of red strawberries are indicative of the stains on her reputation as well as the blood that follows in Act V. Like the bed, another major symbol, it is first intended as a symbol of eros (physical love), but it is subverted and turned into a symbol of theros (death).
It is a symbol of either Othello's love for or possession of Desdemona. Othello, a former pagan,who sees the handkerchief as magical ("there's magic in the web of it"), and he speaks of it in mythological terms:
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,
'Twould make her amiable and subdue my father
Entirely to her love , but if...
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