in Shakespeare's Othello, what was Emilia's relationship with Iago and Desdemona?

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Hillard Thiel eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Emilia is one of the more intriguing characters in Othello. She is Iago's wife, and while it is easy to think it's an unhappy marriage due to what we know of Iago, Emilia seems to care for him and to genuinely want to please him. She does, for instance, steal the handkerchief and doesn't admit to doing so when Desdemona is distraught for having lost it. Iago is more than willing to make callous and misogynistic comments typical of a man who spends his time in military camps, and Emilia makes sarcastic remarks about husbands, but these would seem conventional in context.

We know that Othello and Desdemona had spent time together in Venice, but this seems to have been a relatively brief courtship conducted in Brabantio's home (but without his awareness). It doesn't seem plausible that Othello would have taken Iago with him on these social visits; even less plausible would be if Iago had brought Emilia with him. The difference in social standing suggests that in Venice, Desdemona and Emilia...

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