How does Shakespeare use representations of speech and other dramatic devices to convey the relationship of Iago and Emilia in Othello?

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm not exactly sure what "representations of speech" mean, but here goes:

Iago publicly disparages not only his wife, but also women.  He says to Emilia, with Desdemona listening:

You rise to play and go to bed to work.

By this, he stereotypes his wife and all women as wanton.  According to Iago, women are petty and frivolous temptresses.  Their days are filled with trying to get men into bed.  He treats her as an object.

Emilia only responds, "You shall not write my praise."  Being a servant to Desdemona, she has few rights in this patriarchal society.  She cannot publicly humiliate Iago with a retort.  Later, she will privately admit to Desdemona that men "are all but stomachs, and we are all but food."  Emilia knows that women are food for men to feast on.

In the middle of the play, Emilia will betray her mistress out of jealousy and give Iago the handkerchief that he has bid her steal.  Emilia will set in motion the ploy by which Iago's plan deceives Othello.  Evidence of the handkerchief in Bianca's hand will cause Othello to justify the murder of his wife.

Iago has treated her like dirt, so why does Emelia steal for him?  Is she not jealous of the passion that Desdemona and Othello have?  Has she been so neglected by Iago that her thievery is a ploy to win back his affections?

Iago, in the end, underestimates Emilia.  He tells her to be quiet and go home--the two things that was expected of every wife.  Only after Desdemona is dead will Emilia loose her tongue and reveal the truth.  This leads to her murder as well, but Emelia's outspokenness reveals the cruel double standards by which men judged women.