Othello’s Handkerchief

Othello

That Handkerchief did an Egyptian to my mother give. She was a charmer and could almost read the thoughts of people. She told her, while she kept it, Twould make her amiable and subdue my father entirely to her love; but if she lost it or made a gift of it, my father’s eye should hold her loathed, and his spirits should hunt after new fancies.  Act 3.4 (56-63)

The handkerchief is brought up numerous times in the play, and is symbolic for the marriage between Othello and Desdemona. The interest I have in this quote is that Shakespeare is giving us a whole symbolic history for the handkerchief making its importance even more valuable in the play. The history also brings the idea that the handkerchief also represents love and fidelity.

One thought on “Othello’s Handkerchief”

  1. The handkerchief in Othello is a symbolic staple throughout the play. As Hannah noted above, “…Shakespeare is giving us a whole symbolic history for the handkerchief making its importance even more valuable in the play.” I agree with this statement, but I also believe the handkerchief can hold another meaning. Othello faces guilt after smothering Desdemona, and there is no way to rid himself of this guilt. I believe the handkerchief, among “love and fidelity,” can also represent the truth Othello swallows – the truth that he cannot wipe away his guilt along with the understanding that he’ll be stuck with these feelings until the very end. – N

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