Discussion Topic

Significant Quotes in Each Act of Othello and Their Importance

Summary:

In Othello, significant quotes include "I am not what I am" in Act 1, revealing Iago's deceitful nature. In Act 2, "O, beware, my lord, of jealousy" foreshadows Othello's downfall. Act 3’s "O, now, forever farewell the tranquil mind" marks Othello's descent into jealousy. In Act 4, "This is a subtle whore" shows Othello's complete mistrust. Finally, Act 5's "I kissed thee ere I killed thee" signifies tragic remorse.

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What is a significant quote in Act 1 of Othello and why is it important?

Othello in answering the concerns of the duke says:

That I have ta'en away this old man's daughter,
It is most true; true, I have married her:
The very head and front of my offending
Hath this extent, no more. Rude am I in my speech,
And little bless'd with the soft phrase of peace:
For since these arms of mine had seven years' pith,
Till now some nine moons wasted, they have used
Their dearest action in the tented field,
And little of this great world can I speak,
More than pertains to feats of broil and battle,

Othello's admission that his nature is warlike and not much given to the phrases and speech of peace is a vital part of the foreshadowing of the difficulty he will face when the possibility of war is removed following the Turkish fleet's disaster.

At this point his confidence is very high, given that he goes off to war, something he knows well and gives him purpose.  But once that purpose is lost, his mind is easily beset by the jealousy that Iago weaves into it so skillfully.

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What is a significant quote in Act 2 of Othello and why is it important?

"As I am an honest man" is a very ironic and telling quote from the play "Othello" by William Shakespeare. The quote is significant because we, the audience, are about to find out just how untrue this is. Although it is a throwaway comment (similar to a person saying "Oh, my goodness) it is still an example of Iago's duplicity. It is reminiscent of Iago's way of deliberately enjoying his hypocrisy by sharing it with the audience, almost waving the stupidity and innocence of the addressed character in his face. He is waiting for someone to finally notice his true character and motives, but he is such a good actor that no-one does. Shakespeare prepares us for the final denoument of dishonesty and revelation by foreshadowing the lack of honesty in this quote.

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What is a significant quote in Act 2 of Othello and why is it important?

When devils with the blackest sins put on

They do at first with heavenly shows,

as I do now.

In his soliloquy Iago explains why he is giving Cassio advice.  After getting him drunk, getting Roderigo to provoke him in a fight, and telling the story to Othello so that Othello has no other recourse but to fire Cassio, Iago tells Cassio to go to Desdemona and ask her to help him restore his position and good favor with Othello.  Of course, this is excellent advice on the surface.  If Cassio is too embarrassed to speak to Othello, Desdemona who is kind and compassionate would be an easier audience.  And, she is in a position to influence Othello's thinking.

Cassio recognizes the wisdom of this advice as well.  However, these "heavenly shows" are really the devil's workings, for Iago is going to to make it seem that Cassio's talking with Desdemona is not innocent, that the two are involved with each other.

This speech I think is the key to understanding Iago's method of acting.  He seems wise, loyal, and caring.  He puts on "heavenly shows," but in reality he is the "devil" with the "darkest sins."  The key problem in the play is the fact that the characters misjudge Iago, thinking him virtuous when he is actually quite demonic.

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What is a significant quote in Act 2 of Othello and why is it important?

Othello Act II is all about honor culture and male reputation.  Once on the wild island of Cyprus, then men lose all reason and resort to blatant sexism and morbid jealousy against women.  If Venice was racist, then Cyprus is certainly sexist.

Iago, who played the racism card in Venice in Act I and lost, now resorts to the reputation card in Act II to gain victory.  His first victim is Cassio; soon, it will be Othello.

He gets Cassio drunk and into a fight.  After Cassio is stripped of his rank as Lieutenant, he says:

Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have lost
my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of
myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation,
Iago, my reputation!

Here, we see how men view themselves.  It's all about status.  Reputation is the immortal part.  It is their soul.  They think their name is the only thing that lives on.  They think their gender is a kind of god.  That which is left is only bestial.  Without gender, they are damned.  Without their male reputations, they might as well be women.

This scene foreshadows what will happen to Othello.  When he thinks Desdemona has lost his love (the handkerchief), he will lose his reputation.  She is a status symbol for him, a trophy wife.  After he loses her, he will turn bestial and reify her.  He will lose all reason and language.  And then he will murder her.

After reputation is gone, it's downfall at break-kneck speed.

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What is a significant quote in Act 2 of Othello and why is it important?

Desdemona and Iago exchange verbal barbs as Desdemona has just arrived at Cyprus and Iago is badmouthing women (as usual).  She suggests he take a turn at praising her, as his praises are generally only thiny veiled criticisms.
DESD: I am not merry, but I do beguile
The thing I am by seeming otherwise.
Come, how wouldst thou praise me?
IAGO: I am about it; but indeed my invention
Comes from my pate as birdlime does from frieze;(140)
It plucks out brains and all. But my Muse labors,
And thus she is deliver'd.
If she be fair and wise, fairness and wit,
The one's for use, the other useth it.

Several interesting things come out of this exchange, one is the idea that Desdemona is only playing ignorant, that she is far more capable and intelligent than she appears to some.  This is somewhat in contrast to her seemed helplessness later in the play.

The second is another rather mysogynist statement of Iago's claiming that if a woman is beautiful she ought to use it, but if she is only wise, she will find a way to use beauty to still gain an advantage.  We can remember that Iago's attitude towards women is none too positive and he is only here mocking their willingness to use beauty to their advantage.



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What is a significant quote in act 3 of Othello and its importance?

The most significant quote in Othello Act III comes at the end, in scene iv, when Othello effectively divorces Desdemona and aligns himself with Iago to commit the double-murder of Cassio and Desdemona.

Iago's plan of revenge has gone better than planned.  His wife has dropped Desdemona's napkin into his grasp.  He knows it is the symbol of Othello's love for Desdemona.  When Othello sees it in the hands of Bianca, a prostitute, Othello's fury rages.  The handkerchief now becomes a symbol of morbid jealousy.

Remember, we were never shown Othello and Desdemona's marriage in Act I, but here, at the end of the act, we are privy to a kind of marriage scene.  Othello bows and Iago joins him.  Together, they vow to kill.  Othello says:

I greet thy love,
Not with vain thanks, but with acceptance bounteous,
And will upon the instant put thee to't:
Within these three days let me hear thee say
That Cassio's not alive.

Iago responds, "I am your own forever."

With these words, Othello weds himself to his new Lieutenant.  Indeed, he has sold his soul to the devil.  These words not only seal the fate of Cassio and Desdemona, but Othello--as a tragic hero--most of all.

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What is a significant quote in Act 4 of Othello and why is it important?

Othello has been outside and is speaking to Iago, Iago's scheme of planting the suspicion of Desdemona's affair with Cassio is about to come to fruition.  The way that Iago has continually planted seeds in Othello's mind leads the general to exclaim:

Lie with her! lie on her!—We say lie on her, when
they belie her.—Lie with her! 'Zounds, that's fulsome!
Handkerchief—confessions—handkerchief! To confess(45)
and be hanged for his labor first, to be hanged, and then
to confess. I tremble at it. Nature would not invest herself
in such shadowing passion without some instruction. It
is not words that shakes me thus. Pish! Noses, ears, and
lips. Is't possible? Confess?—Handkerchief?—O devil!(50)

Iago's plan has succeeded and at this expression, Othello falls into a fit signifying the end in some ways of his rational being, he will now be completely in bondage to Iago's scheme and the suspicion that has been planted in his brain.

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What is a significant quote in Act 5 of Othello, and why is it important?

As Iago has built up Rodrigo to be willing to kill Cassio in order to gain favor with Desdemona, he is almost ready to give up the fight but Iago convinces him once more to give it a go.  As he goes forth to strike Cassio, Iago says:

I have rubb'd this young quat almost to the sense,
And he grows angry. Now, whether he kill Cassio,
Or Cassio him, or each do kill the other,
Every way makes my gain.

The reference to a vegetable or fruit is notable as Shakespeare often uses the imagery of the garden for various purposes.  It shows us Iago's incredible ego as he believe that no matter what his plan will succeed.  Of course, in the next few lines he realizes that no, in fact Cassio must die for him to succeed but no matter, he will find a way to accomplish his purpose, that he never doubts.

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What is a significant quote in Othello and its importance?

"Oh beware my lord of jealousy, it is the green eyed monster that doth mock the meat it feeds on."

This underlies the premise for the play -- jealousy. This is seen in Iago and Othello and Roderigo, and it is what causes Iago's plot to be mostly successful.

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What is a significant quote in Othello and its importance?

In act. V, scene I Iago says "If cassio do remain/He hath a daily beauty in his life/that makes me ugly..." In this quote he shows the banality of his drive to destroy others. Iago shows himself to be the small person that he really is.

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What is a significant quote in Othello and its importance?

In Act I, scene I, Iago says to Roderigo, "I am not what I am." This is important because it openly states how Iago will behave throughout the entire play. His words and actions will all be lies. No one should trust him. Othello's fate (and through it, Desdemona's) is spelled out right there.

Greg

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