Please help - I don't understand...this is my assignment.  Sorry it is so long. Regular 10th grade English. Analyze: How is Emilia the hero of Othello? Why is this such a victory for Emilia and...

Please help - I don't understand...this is my assignment.  Sorry it is so long. Regular 10th grade English.

Analyze: How is Emilia the hero of Othello? Why is this such a victory for Emilia and how does it furnish such grand irony, as Bloom suggests? Remember that all along the way, the Moor is manipulated to many false conclusions by Iago. As proof of Desdemona's infidelity Othello relies heavily on the circumstantial evidence of Cassio's possession of her handkerchief, and on a dramatically ironic conversation he overhears while "encaved." Observe how, through this drama, Iago's meticulously calculated manipulation of the characters approaches perfection, as does the very evil that exists within him. In contrast, think about the courage of Emilia and how her unshakeable commitment to truth affects Othello, just as it dooms Iago. Find the paradox of the story. Think about Iago's final words. 

Requirements:1000 words, 3 examples, 2 quotations.

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

[Please be advised that enotes educators do not compose essays for students. However, we gladly assist with the composition of strategies for writing and ideas that will support assignments.] 

  • First of all, here are answers to the three questions that are addressed in this assignment:

1. Q: How is Emilia the hero of Othello?  A: Emilia is the only character who defeats the villain Iago, whose revenge against Cassio and Othello hinges on his ability to have mutilated reality to suit his ends (ex: In Act IV, Scene 1, while Cassio talks about Bianca's foolish love for him, Othello thinks he speaks of Desdemona). But Emilia is the only person able to restore reality and thus defeat Iago at his own "game" by revealing the truth about the handkerchief: 

O thou dull Moor, that handkerchief thou speak'st of
I found by fortune and did give my husband,
For often, with a solemn earnestness--
More than indeed belonged to such a trifle--
He begged of me to steal't (5.2.225-229)

2. Q: How does this defeat furnish such grand irony? As a reference to this question, in his work, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, renowned Shakespearean critic Harold Bloom writes, "Emilia's heroic victory over Iago is one of Shakespeare's grandest ironies, and appropriately constitutes the play's most dramatic moment. [For this "moment," see Act V, Scene 2, 216-236] A: Iago possesses genius; he is an artist of revenge and deception. He convinces Othello that Desdemona has betrayed him with no more than the circumstantial evidence of Cassio and Desdemona being seen together and the handkerchief, the significance of which Iago has manipulated so that Othello perceives it as symbolic of his wife's infidelity because it is in Cassio's possession. But, ironically, since Iago himself has inflated the importance of the handkerchief, when Emilia reveals that it is she who found it and gave it to Iago, his defeat is indeed ironic and great ("grand") as he has perpetuated it himself. 
In addition to her love for Desmonda, another reason that Emilia may have undone her husband in his treachery is found in Act III, Scene 4, as she complains of men exploiting women after marriage:

'Tis not a year or two shows us a man.
They are all stomachs, and we are but food:
They eat us hungerly, and when they are full
They belch us up.   (3.4.104-107)

3. Q: What is the paradox of the drama? A: Against the genius of Iago in his plan for revenge, the love Emilia holds for Desdemona is the victor; in other words, the heart defeats the intellect in the end when all throughout the narrative the evil genius of Iago has been victorious, and Othello is defeated because he loses his faith in his wife's love and allows himself to be convinced of her infidelity after listening to the manipulations of Iago.

Othello's words at the end reflect the importance of love. He asks that Lodovico speak of him as that loved not wisely but too well:
Of one not easily jealous,but, being wrought,
Perplexed in the extreme; of one whose hand,
Like the base Indian, threw a pearl away
Richer than all his tribe....(5.2.343-347)


Here are some suggestions on the composition of your essay:

  • Introduction - This is composed of a "motivator" which stimulates the reader's interest. Then the thesis is proposed.
  • Body - Each paragraph supports one opinion from the thesis with details and examples/quotes.
  • Conclusion - This is a rewording of the thesis with a "clincher," a thought that reflects the thesis and extends it slightly beyond.

The introduction could, for instance, contain a reflection of how the old expression "The truth will set you free" is ironic in Othello, or some reflection on the deadliness of jealousy. The thesis, then, can be composed around the answers to the three questions. A thesis is a general statement about a work with three "opinions" that are then supported with details, quotes, examples, etc. So a thesis constructed around these three questions could look something like this:

Othello is a tragedy of the complications of human nature, ones that deter success, honor and love--complications such as jealousy, irony, and paradox.