In Othello, who yearns for power and who wields it?

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malibrarian's profile pic

malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

I wonder if we could also say that Emilia yearns for power, too.  The reason I say that is that I watched the Laurence Fishburne movie the other evening, and Emilia's speech to Desdemona, where they're talking about women who are unfaithful to their husbands, really struck me this time through:

Desdemona:  Wouldst thou do such a deed for all the world?
Emilia:  The world's a huge thing. It is a great price
           For a small vice.
Desdemona:  Good troth, I think thou wouldst not.
Emilia:  (She goes on about not doing it for caps and jewels and gowns, but then says) But for all the whole world! Uds pity, who would not make her husband a cuckold to make him a monarch? I should venture purgatory for't.

Yes, I would have to say that Emilia yearns for power, too, and as Iago is a foil to Othello, so is Emilia a foil to Desdemona.

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renelane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

Iago yearns for power. He resents the power and privilege that goes with the higher social class, and it turns him vengeful. He plots to ruin Cassius for gaining the position he wanted. He resents Othello for his power, and plots to ruin his relationship and sanity with Desdemona. Iago has the idea that he has been wronged in some way, and feels entitled to manipulate events to get what he wants.

Othello has the power and privilege that Iago so desperately wants. He is successful in many areas. He is a champion on the battlefield and a good leader, as well. He easily wins Desdemona's heart, and continues to have great success. He is, therefore, the target of Iago's envy. Iago will plot to ruin those around him in an attempt to ruin Othello.

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cjaye | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Giving the handkerchief to Iago could have been a last ditch effort on Emilia's part to gain his love.  Although I don't think that was it. She was going to have a copy made of it, if you remember, to give to Iago. He took it from her.  She was most likely scared of him.    He was verbally abusive and I dare to wager that he was physically abusive too, judging by his actions. Iago had a mental problem ( Did he have small man syndrome?) if so he would have made Emilia's life a living hell just to build up his ego.  Emilia stayed in her marriage  like  today's women stay in their abusive relationships, until they realize like Emilia did, that they are worth something.  Unfortunately, what all to often happens, she stayed in the relationship a little too long.  

john-smith-co-au's profile pic

john-smith-co-au | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted on

In reply to #6.

I concur with your theory as regards to emilia seeeking emancipation. However, I confess that the hankercheif is not pertinant to any concept of love, rather it is her response to the bindings of her position as a women in society. She desperately seeks to be free of the male dominated world, but because the concept of the male supremest society is so ingrained upon her mind, she feels obliged to steal the hankercheif from Desdemona on Iago's orders.

hellotherestupid's profile pic

hellotherestupid | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

emillia doesnt yern for power, she yerns for freedom! she is regretful that she lives a life as more or less a slave both at home and at work... she gave iago the hankerchief because she believed it would bring them closer together, she not only yerns for freedom but also for love

aarushi's profile pic

aarushi | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

I thought  that Emilia wanted revenge as well as her husband; because why would she have had given the hankerchief to her husband? But she knew that Othello had given Desdemona that as a gift so why would she take it and give ot to her husband and say what will you give me for the hankerchief?  But to answer the question yes she and her husband yearns for power and iago knows just how to get it.  

I don't think that Emilia too wanted revenge. She gave the handkerchief to his husband but she was unaware of his husband's trick. She gave him the handkerchief just to make him happy. She is the one who at the end reveals Iago's intentions.

Regarding Iago, yes he yearns for power.

 

 

 

keithmmiller's profile pic

keithmmiller | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

I thought  that Emilia wanted revenge as well as her husband; because why would she have had given the hankerchief to her husband? But she knew that Othello had given Desdemona that as a gift so why would she take it and give ot to her husband and say what will you give me for the hankerchief?  But to answer the question yes she and her husband yearns for power and iago knows just how to get it.  

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