Symbols Of Shakespeare 's Othello Essay

Symbols Of Shakespeare 's Othello Essay

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Symbols are an important part of literature used to help enhance stories. A symbol can allow readers to understand a story on a deeper and more meaningful level. They can also provide an insight to characters depending on their relation the symbol itself. Shakespeare frequently uses symbols in his plays to symbolize an idea that is more abstract. For example, a handkerchief in Othello is a key symbol in the play. The importance of the small object becomes evident as the play progresses. Although many characters come in contact with the handkerchief throughout the play, it holds special importance to the characters Othello, Desdemona, and Iago.
The handkerchief held sentimental value for Othello because it was a gift from his mother. He tells Desdemona this: “She, dying, gave it me / And bid me, when my fate would have me wived, / To give it her” (III.iv.63-65). Othello gave Desdemona this handkerchief as a symbol of their marriage and his love for her. When Iago planted the seed in Othello’s head that Desdemona and Cassio were having an affair, Othello became furious. Iago convinced Othello that the handkerchief represented Desdemona’s faithfulness towards him, which is why it was so important to Othello that she still had the handkerchief. It is the reason why he used a story about the magic behind the handkerchief to try to scare Desdemona into admitting to her alleged affair with Cassio. Othello believed that if Desdemona had lost or given away the handkerchief, it would be “…perdition as nothing else could match” (III.iv.67-68). In other words, there would be eternal punishment for Desdemona if she did not still possess the handkerchief. When Othello saw it in the hands of Cassio, it changed from a symbol of marriage and love...


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...mportant item to Othello, Desdemona, and Iago because it represented something significant to all of them. Essentially, the importance of the handkerchief to Desdemona and Iago came from the importance that it held for Othello. It was important to Desdemona because it was the first gift she had ever received from Othello and it was important to Iago because he needed to manipulate it to change what the handkerchief symbolized to Othello. A small item that started out with little significance became a big and crucial part of the play. In the end, the importance that the handkerchief held for the characters eventually lead to their downfalls. Othello committed suicide after he realized he wrongly accused and murdered Desdemona, Desdemona’s cause of death was because of the handkerchief, and Emilia saw through Iago’s schemes, which caused Iago to be put in jail.







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